Randy Frazee teaches us that in the Bible there are two stories going on at the same time. There is the lower story which is how we see life from our perspective. Then there is the upper story which is how God sees things from his perspective. In God the Savior, the chronology from Matthew to Revelation, Jesus’ entry into our world is very pivotal. He comes to fulfill prophecies, and to represent us in our humanity and in our weakness. But that is very different from how he will be coming the second time.
Every story of Israel, including 353 Old Testament prophecies, have pointed to this day of Jesus’ birth. His ministry is announced by John the Baptist, who proclaims that he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John thus makes the connection that the Passover lamb who saved the firstborn sons of Israel from the angel of death was really a symbol foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.
The ministry of Jesus is now in full motion. Jesus’ teachings give people a glimpse of God’s kingdom and vision for the life he intended them to have. Jesus’ healing ministry not only shows mercy to the recipients but also authenticates his identity. Yet the people do not understand what kind of king he has come to be—a suffering king—and what kind of kingdom he will rule—an eternal one.
All hope in Jesus being the promised Messiah now seems to be lost. In the lower story, when Jesus is crucified, it looks like Jesus is finished. But in the upper story, he has actually finished what God sent him to accomplish. The plan set in motion back in the Garden of Eden is complete, and salvation is available to all nations. Jesus, the Son of God, has died for the sins of the world, once and for all.
Jesus came into our lower story world to represent us by taking on a perishable body. During his thirty-three years on earth, he resisted every temptation and, unlike Adam in the Garden of Eden, came out sinless. His perishable body died, but three days later he rose from the dead to conquer death once and for all. God had kept his promise, and the way back to him was now open for all people from all nations.
God creates a new community called “the church” to reveal his plan and to point all people to the second coming of Christ. Believers form the body of Christ and collectively extend Jesus’ presence and purpose earth. God, the Spirit, who in the Old Testament previously existed behind the thick curtain in the temple, now takes up residence in believers in Christ, who represent his new temple.
God selects Paul to be the primary catalyst of his promise to Abraham that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him, and directs him to take the message of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul responds to that call and is responsible for planting many Gentile churches, strengthening numerous others, and writing thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
Paul reminds believers in Christ that they are now part of a unified body and that each member has a specific part, purpose, and function to perform. Paul knows that his time on earth is short, so he calls on co-workers like Timothy and Titus to continue this mission of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.
The last two chapters of the Bible read almost the same as the first two chapters in the Bible. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. The tree of life is at the center of the garden. A community of people will be there with new bodies that are not infected with sin. This is not really the ending of the story, but a new beginning. God has restored what was lost in the first beginning through Christ.