Jesus and the Reign of God

Jesus and the Reign of God

Jesus and the Reign of God

Jesus and the Reign of God

Synopsis

Jesus and the Reign of God is a powerful and compelling evocation of the vision and reality of God's reign and its possibilities for the "transfiguration of life" in faith.

Song's search for a "vision of life in God," inaugurated in his previous volume, Jesus, the Crucified People, takes him from ancient Egypt and China to modern Singapore, from Gethsemane to Tiananmen Square and always pulls him back to the Gospel stories.

In its earnest and intense quest for religious integrity in a world no longer dominated or defined by Christianity, Song's theology is a startling rebuke to Christologies centered either in historical-critical searches or church doctrines. For him theology is the biography of God, and Jesus' message of God's reign is evident in the densely packed histories of strangers and outcasts: in an Egyptian Muslim who composed a Christmas carol, in a Korean woman in Japan, in an old musician in a ruined church in China.

Engaged by these stories, the reader is pulled ineluctably into the reality they evince. As Song says, the reign of God in Jesus "becomes manifest through movements of people to be free from the shackles of the past, to change the status quo of the present, and to have a role to play in the arrival of the future."

Excerpt

Jesus has been an “object” of intense interest for the past two thousand years. One can safely predict that he will continue to engage human minds intensely for the next two thousand years. the fragile moral fiber of our world will not disintegrate as long as the name of Jesus is remembered in the hearts of people, mentioned on their lips, and celebrated in their struggle for a life richer in meaning and more fertile in hope.

Jesus holds the central place in Christian devotion. Theologians do not spare efforts to penetrate the mystery surrounding his person and to decipher the meaning of the signs evoked by his ministry. Artists through the ages, inspired by the beauty and tragedy of the noble figure of Jesus, pour out their genius to recast him in portrait, in plastic image, or in oratorios. and in the world of injustice, oppression, and greed, Jesus is held as a liberator who brings God’s justice, love, and freedom to the suffering multitudes.

What, then, did Jesus actually look like? How did he sound? What was his gait like? No camera, no television, no video existed in those days, so one has no choice but to leave such questions to one’s own imagination. Still, one wonders why no portrait of him, not even a simple drawing of him, was done by his contemporaries. At least we are not aware of its existence. But would such a portrait or drawing make a difference to our faith in him? Perhaps not. Preoccupation with his person would, in fact, have jeopardized the message he preached. It might have diverted the attention of the writers of the Synoptic Gospels from the challenge of his message to the cult of his person.

The heart of Jesus’ message is the reign of God (basileia tou theou). in all he said and did he was at pains to make clear that God’s reign is primarily concerned with the people victimized by a class-conscious society and a tradition-bound religious establishment. God’s reign, in light of what Jesus said and did, inaugurates an era of people. It sets a new stage for their life and history. It marks a fresh beginning of the divine-human drama of salvation. Indeed, the reign of God has become flesh “and dwelt among us,” to use the words of John, the author of the Fourth Gospel. It is this . . .

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