Jesus, Peace, and Symbolism


Luke 21:25-36

Jesus coming in a cloud. Literal explanations are so much easier than allegory or symbolism. There’s no concreteness in symbolism. You can’t be certain you’ve got it right. As if it’s more concrete to explain signs or changes in the sun, moon, and stars literally. If you can “see” it, you can believe it.  Not.

Signs of global warming can’t be the consequences of human greed and lust for more than is needed. They are God’s signs predicting doom for non-Christians and disobedience. Again – not.

Why couldn’t Jesus speak clearly so we could understand him?

I’ve already blogged about heaven and earth passing away a couple of weeks ago. That was from Mark 13. And now it shows up again in Luke 21— the Bible says heaven will pass away. It’s in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

We just might have to hope that Jesus meant something below the surface instead of the literal meaning. He spoke in Aramaic which can have many levels of meaning. There’s going to be a lot of people upset if they’ve worked so hard to get to heaven, only to have it pass away.

Here I want to investigate “your redemption draws near.” This statement follows the image of the son of man coming in a cloud (and we all know that means he will be riding a white horse, like a conquering military leader with weapons in hand, not riding the foal of a donkey like the last time).

Maybe the image of “coming in a cloud” is how he will usher in the kingdom of God, fading into your life through the haze of ancient ritual and doctrine and human teaching that has clouded up the truth.

Your redemption draws near – as his image gets clearer. The son of man is a prince of peace. Not a warrior who destroys evil people. He brings peace with him…and that’s the kingdom of God. Peace, harmony, unity. I’m going to guess he isn’t going to force peace on anyone who doesn’t want it.

The word “redeem” in Greek literally means to recover from the power of another, as in to ransom or buy off. But the Greek concordance also says to redeem can also be a metaphor of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic law at the price of his death.

They must get that from Bible verses like Galatians 3:13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for  it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree, or Galatians 4:5, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Redeemed from the law of Moses?

To make it worse for those who think faith is all you need and relying on any works is heresy, a second definition of the Greek puts redemption in the hands of the one being redeemed: to buy up for one’s self. It explains it this way – to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal and well doing are, as it were, the purchase money by which we make the time our own.

You can play a part in your own redemption? If you do good, the kingdom of God will come near? It’s getting a little cloudy in here. Unless you go back to the image of Jesus riding a white horse, sword in hand, and coming through the clouds.

Jesus coming to destroy unbelievers or coming to reveal the goodness of God in himself?What makes more sense? Literalism or symbolism? What brings peace to you?

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