OVERVIEW – Jesus was the promised Messiah, but he fulfilled that role as the Suffering Servant on his way to die in Jerusalem. His disciple must likewise take up his cross and follow him – Mark 8:27-38.
On the “way to Jerusalem,” Jesus entered Caesarea Philippi and questioned his disciples about his identity – “Who do men say that I am?” Momentarily, Peter began to perceive and confess who and what he was – “You are the Messiah!”
Continue reading WHOSOEVER WILL FOLLOW ME
“I will give him a portion among the great, because he poured out his soul unto death, and with transgressors let himself be numbered” – Isaiah 53:12.
Unlike Adam, the “Servant of Yahweh” did not grasp at the “likeness of God.” Instead, he humbled himself and chose obedience, even when that meant his submission to a most shameful death. For this reason, God highly exalted him and installed him to reign over all things as “Lord.” Exaltation did not precede the death of Jesus – it followed it.
Continue reading SERVANT OF YAHWEH
OVERVIEW – Was the New Testament composed in Greek or Hebrew? All evidence points to the former as the original language.
What was the original language of what we now call the “New Testament”? For centuries, the consensus was that it was written in Greek. In recent years, however, a growing minority has claimed it was first composed in Hebrew (or Aramaic), then translated relatively early into Greek. After all, the apostles and first Christians were all Jews, and, of course, first-century Jews spoke Hebrew. But what does the evidence show, and does it matter?
Continue reading LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
OVERVIEW – To follow Jesus means self-denial and a willingness to suffer for his sake – Persecution is the highest honor for his disciple – Matthew 5:10-12.
According to Jesus, and contrary to the “wisdom of this age,” rage and violence are NOT appropriate reactions for his disciple to rejection and persecution, real or imagined. For that matter, the values and “wisdom” of the present age are contrary to the teachings and example of Jesus, especially to the paradigm of Christ crucified.
Continue reading DISCIPLES AND PERSECUTION
OVERVIEW – Jesus came to fulfill the “Law and Prophets,” the entire Old Testament revelation that prepared the way for Israel’s Messiah – Matthew 5:17-21.
The theme of fulfillment is pronounced in the Gospel of Matthew. With the arrival of the Messiah, the age of fulfillment had arrived, the “kingdom of God” had commenced its “invasion” of the old fallen age. But what were the implications for the Law provided by Yahweh at Mount Sinai? Rather than simply reaffirm the Law, Jesus declared that all the “law and prophets” would be fulfilled.
Continue reading LAW AND PROPHETS – FULFILLMENT
OVERVIEW – Acts of mercy and love are the defining characteristics of the true disciple of Jesus and reflections of the nature of God – Matthew 5:43-48.
We are easily confused and even overwhelmed by the exhortation of Jesus for his disciples to be “perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We assume that “perfect” refers to some standard of righteousness that is impossible for any man or woman to achieve. How can anyone ever hope to emulate the perfect righteousness of God? Fortunately, Jesus told us exactly how we are to become “perfect” and, thereby, emulate our “heavenly Father.”
Continue reading MERCY IS NOT OPTIONAL