Thursday, July 06, 2006

Jesus, Second Adam & True Israel

Two brief comments (both of which I assume commentators have regularly pointed out, but which I've only just noticed).

First, Luke inserts his genealogy between Jesus' baptism and his temptation in the wilderness. While parts of the genealogy might be of intrinsic interest, it seems apparent that Luke's genealogy aims to teach us that Jesus is the second Adam. After Jesus' baptism a voice declares that Jesus is "my beloved son, in you I am well-pleased" (Lk 3.22). Luke then inserts the genealogy which ends in v. 38 with "(son) of Adam, (son) of God." The implication is that Jesus is the son of God in the same direct way that Adam was the son of God.

So, too, in the book of Mark, Satan approaches Jesus to tempt him, just as he approached Adam.

The differences between the account of Adam and the account of Jesus are just as compelling as the similarities, however. Adam faced Satan in the Garden surrounded by good food; Jesus faces Satan in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days. Adam sins, Jesus does not.

The passage ends recording that "when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time" (4.13). Jesus did not struggle with earthly authorities -- the Roman and Jewish leaders were epiphenomenona -- Jesus struggled against Satan throughout his earthly ministry. This, too, is the foe against which the Church truly struggles.

A second thought: Matthew records that Joseph fled to Egypt with Jesus and Mary to protect him from Herod. There is of course an irony here in that the messiah is taken in exile to Egypt, the land of oppression and slavery, for salvation from the king of Israel.

Matthew then applies a statement to Jesus that Moses applied to Israel, "Out of Egypt did I call my son" (Mt 2.15, Ex 4.22). He thereby identifies Jesus with Israel, while pointing out that Jesus must flee from Israel (or official Israel, at least).

The ironic, thematic identification of official Israel as the Egypt-oppressor resounds throughout the Gospels.


Post a Comment

<< Home