N.T. Wright on the change Jesus brings

Jesus did not come to “teach a new ethic.” Nor did he come to teach people that everything they’d ever thought about human behavior was wrong and that they should begin again from the beginning. Nor did he come to show us how to keep God’s Law, or, for that matter, to warn us that we couldn’t do so even if we tried, so we’d better come to him for forgiveness. Jesus didn’t come, in other words, to reinforce any of the normal ways in which Western Christians–and Western non-Christians, too–have thought about “behavior.” He came to inaugurate God’s kingdom, in his life and public ministry, and through the climax of both in his death and resurrection. He came to rescue Israel, to rescue humankind, and thereby to rescue creation. And, with that, everything is different.

Jesus came, in fact, to launch God’s new creation, and with it a new way of being human,  a way which picked up the glimpses of “right behavior” afforded by ancient Judaism and paganism and, transcending both, set the truest insights of both on quite a new foundation. And, with that, he launched also a project for rehumanizing human beings, a project in which they would find their hearts cleansed and softened, find themselves turned upside down and inside out, and discover a new language to learn and every incentive to learn it. God’s kingdom was bursting in to the present world, offering a “goal” the like of which Aristotle had never imagined. Human beings were called at last to rediscover what they have been made for, what Israel had been created for. They were, after all, to be rulers and priests, following Jesus’ ultimate royal and priestly achievement, and they would have to learn from scratch what that meant. They were to practice virtue–virtue of a kind never before imagined. And in this, as in so much besides, the first great theoretician among Jesus’s followers was that tireless, restless, lovable, and often puzzling man named Paul.

N.T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, 133.

prayer for the third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer