Chapter 6 “Energizing and Amazement in Jesus of Nazareth” pp. 101-113
In this chapter, Brueggemann contrasts the idea of “hope” and “optimism.” Optimism, according to his model, is based on good feelings, a sentiment of something working well, or an expectation that all will be well at some point in the future. This stands in contrast to hope, which is based on a definite promise. Hope looks to something which is promised and is associated with a change in conditions. The true hope that a prophet can bring, says Brueggemann, is the hope of Jesus, who comes to change darkness into light, death into life. We find this energizing that we need in the promises surrounding Jesus’ birth. We find the energizing we need in the works he does in ministry, often pointing forward to the new order of eternity, a time of peace, life, and healing. Possibly one of the greatest difficulties we have in our 21st century world is that we read the accounts of Jesus and have become accustomed to the ideas put forth. They are no longer as amazing as, in fact, they were in the first century. Jesus’ teachings, likewise, overturn the established stranglehold on society and life. Yet they seem somehow less revolutionary to those of us who have heard his teachings again and again. Finally, Jesus’ resurrection overturns death itself. Again, all that Jesus does serves as a definite promise associated with a change in conditions. He thus energizes and amazes his audience, as he should energize and amaze us.