Background: This post is for a theology class assignment. I just like the topic so I thought I would post it here. I was asked to “summarize your vision of the gospel, of who Christ is, and what he has done, and how this has to change everything.”
Jesus Christ is known for quite a few things. To some he was a good man, with a moral message that the world could learn a thing or two from. Others, especially those who adhere to the Islamic faith, see him as a prophet; perfect and inspired by God. Still others take his single usage of the phrase “born again” and plan entire ministries about it. There are elements of truth in all of these statements. Jesus was a good man, a prophet, and did give the analogy to Nicodemus that being born again was the only way to see the kingdom of heaven (I think we may interpret this wrong. Nicodemus was a member of the Pharisee sect of Judaism and thus saw holiness as being equal to following a set of rules. Jesus was probably referring to the fact that Nicodemus would have to see things entirely differently in order to appreciate the kingdom of heaven for what it really was (kingdom of heaven is also a loaded phrase in Judaism… but this double-parenthetical aside is getting rather long)).
Really though, Jesus was a revolutionary. Revolutionaries change the status quo. In Jesus’ historical period conflict was everywhere. You had Pharisees advocating for legalism in Jewish society (which, by the way, was under Roman rule (oppression?)). Other sects of Judaism were advocating complete withdrawal from society (Sadducees) or rising up and fighting the Roman oppressors (Zealots). Instead of joining the status quo, Jesus created a unique perspective that captivated (and offended!) many. Jesus taught that strict legalism led to problems (countering the Pharisees), emphasized nonviolence over violence (countering the zealots), and encouraged an engagement of the culture (countering the Sadducees). Jesus was decidedly countercultural! His vision of the kingdom of heaven was contingent on a worldview that “changed everything” that the Jews held dear.
Christ’s life changed everything. His death and resurrection changed everything again. Instead of atoning for sins through ritualistic sacrifice, Christ shouldered the blame for everyone’s sin. Everyone. He who was blameless took the blame of everyone upon his shoulders in a revolutionary way. His resurrection demonstrated his triumph over sin and gave validity to his message and way of life.
Paul’s letter to the Romans emphasizes another way in which Christ’s life and death changes everything. It would be a shock, a moving back to square one, for the Jews to hear that the Gentiles were being included in God’s work. Yet that is just what the opening chapters of Roman’s states. The point is, Christ’s death was for everyone, and God can do work in and through those we might not expect. Without Christ we are sin-filled, yet Christ’s death atones for that sin. Christ changed everything. Christ changes everything. Christ is changing everything!