Fill the Earth: Jesus the Redeemer… of Mission!

It is not uncommon for churches to be called “Redeemer.”

One of the more well-known churches in my denomination, the PCA, is Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, planted and pastored for many years by Tim Keller. The wonderful church where our family worships when we’re in the US is also called Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

I’ve heard of churches called Redeemer City Church, Redeemer Community Church, Christ Our Redeemer, and many others. It’s a common church name because it’s such a central and precious element of the biblical story: Jesus redeems us as sinners.

Not Just the Redeemer of Sinners

Yet although the term “Redeemer” is common, recognition of the full extent of Jesus’ redemption is not as common. When people think of Jesus as “Redeemer,” they typically conceive of Him as I wrote above: the Redeemer of sinners. And while it is true that Jesus redeems sinners by His atoning work on the cross, this does not exhaust the scope of His redemption.

In a previous post I suggested that humanity’s fall into sin in Genesis 3 is portrayed as frustrating our ability to fulfill our mission as God’s representative images in this world. This set the stage for us to view redemption not simply as reconciliation with God but also as a restoration of our ability to fulfill our mission.

What I seek to show in chapter 7 of Fill the Earth is how Jesus is portrayed not simply as the Redeemer of sinners but also as the Redeemer of the mission of God’s people. In His righteous life Jesus faithfully fulfills the roles of both Adam and Israel, obeying where these two OT predecessors disobeyed. As the Isaianic suffering servant, Jesus dies in place of His people to secure their forgiveness. As the righteous Davidic King, Jesus leads His people faithfully and inherits God’s covenant promises of an everlasting and worldwide kingdom. As the Danielic Son of Man, Jesus ascends to God’s right hand in order to rule over this multi-national kingdom. And as the eschatological temple, Jesus is the latter-day intersection of God’s heavenly presence on the earth.

Through these interrelated images, the New Testament presents Jesus as redeeming the mission of God’s people. He saves us from sin, not simply so that we will avoid judgment, but also that we might be incorporated into His kingdom and join in the advancement of that kingdom throughout the earth.

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