Friday, April 21, 2006

The Resurrection and Ascension as Royal Enthronement

Luke describes Jesus' baptism as his royal anointing. Jesus is declared to be God’s son in language evoking Psalm 2,[1] a royal enthronement psalm.[2] It is also interesting to note that Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, who was probably a Levite, since Luke tells us that he was son of a priest (cf. Luke 1:5). In this, we are reminded of the anointing of Solomon, who was also anointed by a Levite (1 Kgs 1:39). Moreover, from what follows, it seems clear that Davidic imagery provides the backdrop to Luke's narrative. Immediately following his baptism, Luke tells us that Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry—the same age David was when he began to reign as king (2 Sam 5:4). He then traces Jesus’ genealogy back through David (Luke 3:23).

David Ravens points out that Luke’s unique telling of Jesus’ ministry in Samaria (Luke 9:52; 17:11), seems to emphasize Jesus’ role as the Davidic restorer of the united kingdom.
“[Luke’s] understanding of the restored Israel is rooted in the idea of one nation under a Davidic king, modeled on the nation before its division into the two kingdoms.”[3]
Furthermore, the program of the missionary enterprise of the Church described by Jesus in Acts 1:8, “Jerusalem . . . Judea and Samaria . . . the end of earth,” describes the territories of the original Davidic Empire in the reverse order in which they successively were lost.

Luke describes the Resurrection and Ascension as Jesus’ divine royal enthronement. In his sermon at Pentecost Peter uses the Psalms to show how the Resurrection and Ascension represent the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Citing Psalm 16:8-11 he explains that the Lord has fulfilled David’s prayer for preservation from death not in himself, for he died, but in Jesus who is raised from the dead (Acts 2:24-31). He then draws on Psalm 110:1 to show how the Lord establishes Jesus as King at his right hand in his Ascension (Acts 2:32-36); through the Ascension Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of God.[4] Though Jesus was “anointed” as king in his baptism, it was only in his Resurrection and Ascension that he was elevated and installed as king. Strauss explains, “An analogy may be drawn here to David, who was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel long before he was enthroned as king.”[5]
[1] “The wording of Ps. 2.1-2 in this passage is one of the few cases of an exact agreement between the lxx and Luke-Acts.” Darrell L. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology (JSOT Supplement Series 12; Sheffield, JSOT Press, 1987), 203.
[2] Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (in New International Biblical Commentary; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999).
[3] David Ravens, Luke and Restoration of Israel (JSNTSS 119. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 105.
[4] Mark Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts: The Promise and its Fulfillment in Luke
JSNTSS 110: Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 140-45.
[5] Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, 145.

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