Reading Diachronically–The Gospel Story (2)

The risen Christ himself is exemplary in the way in which he reminded his disciples of the gospel story. As he guided them diachronically through the whole Old Testament (i.e., the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms), they were re-taught how to interpret the Scriptures with new Christological lenses—seeing Jesus as the supremely good news of their inherited Story. His gospel reading of their Scriptures is essentially this: “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,” for the repentance and forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ disciples are then sent as his witnesses to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations. These missionaries will indeed testify to their being changed by the risen Christ as they continue retelling the gospel story diachronically, as shown throughout the Book of Acts.

In the Book of Acts, the gospel is mainly proclaimed through the form of a story. On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter interprets their experience of hearing foreigners speak in their own language, by quoting the prophet Joel and King David. Joel speaks of this day as the beginnings of an age when “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Indeed, here Peter pulls from the grand story line highlighting the theme of redemption. He calls David “a prophet” who “foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ.” Peter compares Jesus of Nazareth to King David, saying essentially, “‘This Jesus, whom you crucified,’ is the better King. David died and was buried. Yet, Jesus ‘was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.’ God raised him up. ‘Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, has poured out this that you are seeing and hearing.’”

In order to tell the gospel story along the timeline of the Bible, one does not necessarily need to include every theme in the story—creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. The important thing is to highlight the essentials as they point to the Christ of the story. The gospel message that Peter tells in story-form can be highlighted in these essential parts: 1) Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins. 2) God raised Jesus from the dead. 3) He is now exalted at the right hand of God. 4) God has made him both Lord and Christ. Only after reading these snippets of the gospel story through a wide-angle lens—in its full breadth, can one now begin to more fully understand and see the gospel in its depth when reading the Bible through a narrow-angle lens.

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