Excellent observation from john! Prof N T Wright brings up the view in his Youtube discussion How God Became King when he remarks that Christians are content to accept that Christ died for our sins, thereby winning entry to heaven for all who believe in Him, and dismiss everything that happened between His baptism and the Atonement. The Synoptic Gospels take a lot of trouble to describe that period, and for a reason. They are a model, a path, a Way for His disciples, past and present to EMULATE! Wright says that the Cross casts a shadow over all His ministry. Everytime Christ speaks or acts, He is LAYING DOWN HIS LIFE. I'll try to expand this answer. DO, DO FAST FORWARD TO 45:00 and watch till 49:30 on the above video clip!
Transcript from Video How God Became King
Pres MBI: How do you avoid the error of tacking on the story of the crucifixion as the sad end of a promising story of the kingdom of God? If I can clarify this in connection with the question ”What would be the connection be between the crucifixion and the resurrection and the kingdom of God that He proclaimed in His brief earthly ministry?”
NTW: The book does go into exactly that in some detail. All the way through from the beginning of Mark pretty much when Jesus is doing all that kingdom stuff, there is opposition, there are threats, there are plots, there are accusations. The shadow of the Cross is cast upon the story of the kingdom of God from the beginning. Just as when Jesus is going to the Cross, the evangelist makes it clear that this is not something other than the climax of His kingdom work when He is crucified with the words ”King of the Jews” above his head.
The point is that when Jesus is doing all that ”kingdom stuff”, He is figuratively laying down His life, picking up His cross, DAILY.
Luke 9:23-24 NET Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
It's no easy task to stick out your neck and propose an interpretation of a text or pray for a blind person to be healed (both are healing blindness, albeit one being spiritual versus physical). Failure at either invites attack. Trust in God is vindicated as the healings do take place, Jesus being resurrected on each occasion. People believe, are saved.
John 15:13 NET No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.
Trust in God is what enables success in overcoming obstacles, be they the ”giants” in Canaan, or the Law of Sinai. Victory leads to entry into the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God. Joshua's trust cleans the people, but to clean the land the trust must be a physical sacrifice, the eponymous act at Calvary. Picking up the cross is not just figurative there, but real.
A pure people in a pure land make a powerful combination. Jesus purified his mind and His body, during the stint in the wilderness, there where Israel failed. He is now living the eternal life, the subduing power life assigned to Adam: even the wind and the waves listen to Him. However, every time He exercises that power, He takes His life into His own hands. Will God continue to vindicate His stepping out in faith? The results are plainly seen, as the curses of the Fall are rolled back, till even physical death must be conquered.
Now Jesus lays down His life, by surrendering to the authorities, returning to Jerusalem, to certain death. Will God again vindicate Jesus obedience, confirming that the Second Adam has the power to command even death to come and go, as well as again defeating His adversaries by proving His claims (and saving even more people in the process)? Obedience previously rewarded by entry into the Promised Land, where empowered obedience is again rewarded by being confirmed as belonging to God. And who better to be used as a test for this other than He who will lay down His life only to take it back again.
John 10:17 NET This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.
Hebrews 3:15-19 NET As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership? And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.
Brothers and sisters, strive to enter that rest. Keep this verse in mind, as a reminder that the empowering is from God, lest you strive in the flesh:
Exodus 14:14 NET The Lord will fight for you, and you can be still.”
That is why the rest is a real rest:
Matthew 11:28 NET Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Please critique the above and provide input where it can be improved on.