Even if he did it in the middle of a capital city before thousands of onlookers, how would they get beyond complete shock and begin to make sense of it?
One way would be to situate these events in a broader context. Instead of seeing these events as random occurrences in the midst of history, waiting for our cognitive registration, they could be interpreted as central elements in an unfolding plan. Jesus' work could be understood on a broader horizon encompassing the creation of the universe in the past and its ultimate renewal in the future.
Details could be added to this plan to fill out the picture. They could include the notion that human beings have a role to play in this unfolding drama. There could be the election of a special people, the institution of specific ordinances, the provision of particular media and mediators and so on. This comprehensive vision could encompass our own lives, so that we too are part of the drama.
When located at a specific point in this story, Jesus' achievements could take on a whole new dimension of meaning for those who choose to accept them. No longer are we just to believe in them, but we are to see that they compel us to a particular way of life, a particular sense of purpose and a particular vision for the construction of our lives.
This is indeed the traditional Christian 'metanarrative', expressed, for example, in Irenaeus' 'rule-of-faith'. Somewhere in this story the fact of 'Scripture' breaks in. The prophets had always spoken of the destiny of this chosen people as being guided in some sense by a "word of God". This word is creative, accomplishing what God purposes (Isaiah 55:11). It “overtakes” the generations it once addressed to speak an abiding word to later generations (Zech 1:6), “creating of itself new scope and range of meaning” (Seitz, 1998: 12). The function of this Word is not just to report what God has done, but to teach and guide. It has a pedagogical dimension which has continued into its inscripturated form. The text itself, as part of God's ways with his people, draws us in , challenges us to be who we should be, upturns our self-serving views of how the world should be. As M. Sternberg points out in relation to the ideological function of the biblical narrator:
he sets out not to destroy an enemy but to redeem and establish control over his own people and, what is more, to manipulate them into the reverential obedience that his lord exacts as his due (1987: 154).
As such, the Bible itself, as God's word become text, is part of his redemptive ways in the world. It's meaning is not a static deposit to be preserved in an archive; it is a gospel to be proclaimed and a text to be used. As Childs says concerning traditional Christian understandings of their Scripture:
The ability of the scriptures continually to evoke new and fresh understandings was commensurate with the promised Spirit of the resurrected Chirst to illuminate and guide the Church through the Word" (2005: 314).
Text and subject matter, event and interpretation cannot be separated. And given the urgency of the task of mission and discipleship it is incumbant upon us to attend to their subtle and complex interrelation.