I'm ever so slowly getting some reading done in the large stack of books on the edge of my office bookshelf consisting of books I've bought in the last four years but not yet read. Right now it's N.T. Wright's classic - Following Jesus.
I've just read the first chapter so far, but it's been awesome. He discusses a different biblical passage (or entire book) in each chapter, as it pertains to who is Jesus is and what it means to follow him.
This first chapter consists mostly of an overview of the book of Hebrews... that's right, the NT book considered so difficult to understand that Michael Card waited to do it last in his series of albums based on books of the bible, even after Revelation. Yet Wright makes it so understandable.
Here's what rocked me about Wright's explanation of Hebrews:
"Look at it from the viewpoint of a wider biblical theology. God chose the human race to be the priests of all creation, offering up creation's worship to him and bringing his wise order to it. When humans sinned, God chose the nation of Israel to be the priests of the human race, offering up human praise and putting into operation God's solution to the problem of sin. Israel herself, however, was sinful; God chose a family of priests (the sons of Aaron) to be priests to the nation of priests. The priests themselves failed in their task; God sent his own Son to be both priest and sacrifice. The inverted pyramid of priesthood gets narrower and narrower until it reaches one point, and the point is Jesus on the cross. The sacrifice of Jesus is the moment when the human race, in the person of a single man, offers itself fully to the creator."
I love this! And one of the things I love about it, is that I think Wright's "inverted pyramid" of the whole arc of biblical theology can be expanded back out again in a chiastic form (like an hour glass, or this shape ><>
I remember fondly every year I worked at Calvin Crest the end of the staff orientation week, when in a worship service the summer staff were commissioned by the executive staff and camp board members with a litany that included these words from 1st Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
The whole story of the Bible--the entirety of salvation history--comes down to the single point of Jesus, God in the flesh, on the cross. But like the BIG BANG, that single point explodes outward with the power of the resurrection, the commissioning of the disciples, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the Church, the expansion of the Gospel, and now our participation--in Christ--in God's mission to the world! Because Christ is our one priest and sacrifice, in Christ we who follow him are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, lifting up a living sacrifice--love of God and love of neighbor--by the grace of our Loving Savior!