2 May 2013

Jesus the Messiah and Creation

landscapeThere’s a lot that could be written about Jesus and Creation. What is the relationship of Jesus to the creation? It is complex. As the pre-incarnate logos, all things were created through him. As the incarnate logos, he has become part of the creation, taking matter as part of his being. The entry of the creator into his creation is critical to any biblical theology of creation. When the logos became flesh, he was born as Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the promised figure who would bring salvation.

In Ephesians, Paul tell us that God’s purpose is:

to bring together all things in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:10

The root of the Greek word (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι) I’ve translated as ‘bring together’ (as does the NIV) really brings the idea of integration, but the prefix ανα- focusses that in on restoration. That restoration is not only a ‘spiritual’ restoration, but one which embraces the created world, the earth. Andrew Lincoln points out in his Ephesians Commentary (Word) that interpreters who believe that Paul is here teaching a view similar to the Gnostics, that there will be a dissolution of the cosmos and an end to time, misunderstand Paul fundamentally:

Such an interpretation does not take seriously the letter’s close associations with Colossians…and posits a total break with Paul’s gospel with its hope of the redemption, not the dissolution, of the created order. 33

The associations with Colossians that Lincoln mentions is a reference to the ‘hymn’ of Colossians 1, which links Jesus as the Son to creation and restoration, with the cross being the ground of that hope. The same phrase is repeated there: God is reconciling all things to himself through Jesus’ death on the cross, ‘whether things on earth or things in heaven’. The way the world is today is a result of the entry of sin into the created order; it’s a result of the fallen-ness of human beings. Jesus the Messiah has come into the world, has died and has been raised to life to bring the restoration, not only of human beings, but of the whole of the creation.

Only when our proclamation of the gospel makes that clear are we proclaiming the gospel that Paul believed and taught.