I don’t know about you, but inheritance was something I never imagined would apply to me. An inheritance was something rich people left for their kids. It was something for the spoiled trust-fund heirs who might speed around Malibu in their sports cars. It’s hard for many of us to imagine the place of inheritance in the world in which our Bible was first revealed.
But, in the gospel, the cross is about, among other things, your future economic status.
In the world of the Bible, one’s identity and one’s vocation are all bound up in who one’s father is. Men are called “son of” all of their lives (for instance, “the sons of Zebedee” or “Joshua, the son of Nun”). There are no guidance counselors in ancient Canaan or first-century Capernaum, helping “teenagers” decide what they want “to be” when they “grow up.” A young man watches his father, learns from him, and follows in his vocational steps. This is why “the sons of Zebedee” are right there with their father when Jesus finds them, “in their boat mending the nets” (Mark 1:19-20).
The inheritance was the engine of survival, passed from father to son, an economic pact between generations. To lose one’s inheritance was to pilfer for survival, to become someone’s slave.
The inheritance structure is part of something deeper, more real, the inheritance that a Father God gives to those who share in his image. The Bible identifies Jesus as the One who inherits all the promises. He’s the One of whom it is said, “You are my Son” (Psalm 2:7), to whom the Father promises to make “the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8).
The Fall ruined us economically. The primeval insurrection in the garden forfeited our inheritance, as we walked away from our Father’s house. The heirs were gone, done in by our appetites. And a serpent now holds the cosmos in captivity, driving along the deposed rulers, the disinherited heirs, as his slaves.
But then there’s Jesus.