62: Prof. Joel B. Green | The Scandal Of the CrossL

ProF. JoeL B. Green

Joel B. Green is Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at  Fuller Theological Seminary, where he has also served as Provost and Dean of the School of Theology.

He holds the PhD in New Testament Studies from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), as well as the MTh (Perkins School of Theology) and the BS (Texas Tech University). He has completed further graduate work in the neurosciences at the University of Kentucky.

In the academic world of biblical scholarship, Professor Green is noted above all for his work in Luke-Acts, his contributions to the theological interpretation of Christian Scripture, and his commitment to interdisciplinarity, particularly the theological study of the human person.

In the world of the church, he is known for his interests in Christian formation and mission, and for his commitment to renewal.

Joel and I chat about how the cross defies everything power stands for, the atonement of Jesus, and what the resurrections achieves.

4:30 Share a little of your faith journey with us.  When and how did you come to know Jesus?

7:17 As we approach Easter, many Christians are reading the gospels to reflect and proclaim again the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that saved us from our sin. You co-authored a book Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. What is the scandal of the cross?

“That language comes from Paul, from 1 Corinthians 1 where Paul says that he preaches Christ crucified, a scandal to Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles.”

9:36 What is it about the cross of Christ that defies everything power stands for?

“If you look at that text 1 Corinthians 1, why is the cross a scandal to Jews for Paul? The answer is pretty clear, because Deuteronomy 21 tells us that anyone who’s hung on a cross, anyone who is hung on a tree is cursed by God. So you have this weird, paradoxical, oxymoronic, putting side by side of Christ, which means Anointed One, next to crucified, which by the first century, was read in terms of Deuteronomy 21. Anointed One, cursed one, it doesn’t make any sense, right? And you know, Paul picks up on that in Galatians 3, when he talks about Jesus becoming a curse for us.”

15:35 There are several theories of atonement, so in your personal study and understanding of Scripture how does the cross literally and effectively deal with sin?

“When 1 Peter says that Jesus bore our sins on the tree, then there’s the same kind of language being used… back in Leviticus that speaks to the effectiveness of sacrifice in terms of exchange and representation…[S]in and death are transferred to the sacrificial victim. In this case, Jesus, and his purity and his life are transferred to those who receive the benefits of the sacrifice.”

“The problem is not outside of us, the problem is inside of us. And so the cross is the means by which we are cleansed from sin, proceeding through death into life that opens up new life.”

“How will the world which is estranged from God be brought close? The question is not, how can we take care of God? The question is, how is God going to take care of the problem of the world? And the answer is the atonement Jesus.”

19:05 Did the wrath of God fall on Jesus at the cross? And what do you believe Jesus cry on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me” meant?

“I think it’s important not to just have a Bible trivia game… It’s not enough to know the facts, you need to know the whole story. You need to have fluency so to speak and not just this kind of factual awareness [of God’s Word].”

“Read the Bible for no good reason. Not because you’re trying to get something all the time. [Not] because you’re trying to grasp something. [Instead] you’re trying to get your your head around God’s big picture.  What God is up to from creation to new creation, and when you’re reading these verses or that paragraph or so on, it’s all a part of something bigger.”

28:29 Why was the resurrection of Jesus necessary and what did it achieve?

“Jesus doesn’t wake up on morning and say, ‘I’d really like to go to Golgotha. Wouldn’t that be grand? Wouldn’t it be grand to go to the place of the skull?’ Jesus, if you will, he wakes up in the morning and he says, ‘I’m about my father’s business. I’m doing what is necessary according to God’s plan.’ Which in a world set against God’s agenda can bring him suffering. And so suffering is not something that he’s looking for, it’s a byproduct of his central aim…You could say the same thing now about following Jesus. We don’t say to ourselves, I just hope I can suffer today….More suffering is is not the thing. Suffering is a byproduct that may or may not come in the context of faithfulness.”

39:25 What is something believers often miss in the passion story that you believe is helpful to understand?

“It’s this putting together things that shouldn’t be put together. Mark’s gospel, for example, tells us clearly, but so do Matthew and Luke, Jesus is king. Jesus is Messiah, Jesus is Christ. That should not lead to the cross. What happens with the stories of Jesus suffering and death is in some ways the opposite of what we would anticipate… It should prove that he isn’t what he said he was or what people said he was, but it actually does the opposite. It just shows that the kingdom of God is hidden. Because we don’t have eyes to see it, because we’re looking for the wrong things.”

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