New Testament writers offer varied and persuasive pictures of Jesus that seek to draw people into faith.
For David Bartlett, New Testament Christology is “not so much a set of doctrines as a variety of stories, songs and scriptural interpretations that help Christian believers and Christian churches follow the Jesus they read about, hear about, and praise.“ Early Christians framed and told stories, shared teachings, testified to encounters, found solutions to problems, acted out in faith and love, and sang songs about and to Jesus Christ– the resurrected one who represents and shares God’s very self to repair and redeem a broken world.
Baptized by John the Baptist. Embarrassingly crucified. Teacher and interpreter of Torah. Reformer. Messiah. Proclaimer and agent of a new Kingdom era. Lord above and beyond Caesar’s empire. And most of all, a suffering, resurrected savior addressed through poetry, songs, stories, titles, and ongoing encounters with the community gathered by and in his name. Bartlett takes readers on a quick look journey through the New Testament writers’ understanding of Jesus and his saving significance. In the process, he reminds Christians and those who would understand their founding documents that these differing, context-dependent portraits of Jesus are vehicles of a practical, living faith. They don’t just say something, they do something, revealing an underlying conviction: somehow God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to God’s very self (2 Corinthians 5:19).