Monday, July 30, 2012

Hamilton reflects on glory, judgment and the cross in the Gospels

As Dr. Jim Hamilton finishes his the section on the Gospel of John in his biblical theology entitled God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment he summarizes his work on John's gospel in particular but also the rest of the gospel narratives with focus on the cross of Christ:
At this point we can reflect on the ways that God and Christ will be glorified in the cross. God will be glorified in mercy and justice. His justice will be seen in the outpouring of his wrath to uphold truth and establish his righteousness. His mercy will be seen in the fact that the substitutionary death of Jesus makes it possible for God righteously to extend forgiveness to those who believe. God's love and justice, then, are put on display at the cross.

Christ also is glorified, as his unique ability to absorb God's wrath without remainder is displayed. Jesus exhaustively receives the wrath of God. His greatness is seen both in his ability to satisfy the demands of god's justice and in his own righteousness whereby he is a sinless sacrifice.

Moreover, the love of the Son for the Father's honor is displayed as Jesus obediently goes to the cross. The love of the Father for the Son is displayed as the Father honors the Son for his greatness. The love of both the Father and Son for sinners is displayed by the enormous length to which each goes to establish salvation.

The cross uniquely displays that both Jesus and the Father are committed to justice and mercy, even unto death. The cross displays that Jesus and the Father are unique-holy-in their devotion to righteousness, to mercy, and to one another. The cross displays the all-conquering love of the Father and Son for rebels who will repent and believe in Jesus. Such a sacrifice to save sinners!

The God-honoring, righteousness-upholding, others-benefiting, self-sacrificial way that Jesus loves his disciples is the way he then calls them to love one another in the "new commandment" John 13:34-35. This is a love that upholds the righteousness of God while extending unmerited kindness and mercy to others at the expense of oneself. The display of this kind of love, then, cannot but show forth the priority of God, emphasizing his glory. The new-commandment love that Jesus enjoins on his disciples, like the cross where he supremely manifests that love, centers on the display of God's glory in justice and in mercy, justice highlighting the gracious, free character of the mercy. (416-7)
This is a striking excerpt and is worth re-reading. As Hamilton summarizes God's glory as seen in the judgment and salvation enacted in and through Christ's atoning work at the cross we are witnesses to the foundation of Hamilton's argument. The epitome of God's interaction with humanity is the cross and therefore to see the true focal point of Hamilton's biblical theme we should also look to the cross. In this passage we see clearly how the author perceives this central and foundational event and it seems to me hit hits the mark.

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