Gospel and Israel | Scot McKnight

This is my third post on Scot McKnight's new book The King Jesus Gospel. So I grew up mostly in conservative Reformed circles, but had more-than-typical exposure to various Christian traditions. Whether it was Vacation Bible School or the (50 minute) sermon, we'd regularly hear about Israel or the Old Testament. Most things were chunked into stories about people: David or Daniel, Esther or Moses. And typically the point of these stories was one of "example": be obedient (faithful/brave/righteous/willing...) like this person was.

Knowing more detailed/nerdy things about Israel was also appropriate for two categories:

  1. Bible Trivia (how many precious stones on the high priests ephod?? And name three!), and
  2. Bible End-Times Prophecy (rapture, Armageddon, etc. Israel always figured prominently here).

As a pastor's kid, I knew a lot of this Israel stuff. But it was Bonus Knowledge. Extra. And that didn't seem to change as I grew older. The OT story was boring family history, but not central to the church and especially not relevant to the Gospel, unless you were illustrating a time when God used to NOT give people grace.

I can't recall once hearing that the Gospel itself is dramatically and wholly dependent on the Story of Israel.

If we put this gospel now into one bundle, and if we focus on how that gospel was preached by the apostles, the book of Acts reveals that the gospel is, first of all, framed by Israel's story: the narration of the saving Story of Jesus—his life, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, and his coming again—as the completion of the Story of Israel.

But here are some of many of the Biblical connections Scot reminds us of:

  • Mary and Zechariah and John the Baptist see Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel who will sit on David's throne and restore everything that was promised long ago
  • Jesus stands up and reads from Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:18-19) and then claims that he's the guy
  • Jesus picks 12 disciples as the 12 tribes of Israel
  • Eucharist/communion: The cup of the new covenant and the bread of his body=Egypt's lamb's blood of salvation and the hastily-made journey bread

These are the kinds of things the Apostles are preaching when they tell the gospel story.  Examples:  Acts 2.14-39, Acts 3.12-26, Acts 4.8-12, Acts 10.34-43, Acts 11.4-18, Acts13.16-41, Acts 14.15-17, Acts 17.22-31, (Acts 7.2-53).

It starts to become hard to see how you could speak of Jesus and the Gospel without telling the Story of Israel!

What don't the apostles consistently include in their gospel-proclamation?  I've got to leave that to another post.