Jesus proclaimed a new political reality, the Kingdom of God, and it bore little resemblance to the political systems of this world.
When Jesus appeared in Galilee, he began to proclaim the “Kingdom of God” – “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand.” In his ministry, the reign of God began to invade the earth, but his realm is of an entirely different nature than the political systems of the present age. On more than one occasion, he refused that kind of political power, especially when it was offered by Satan.
Continue reading PATH TO THE KINGDOM
After his baptism, the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. But he succeeded where Israel had failed.
After his baptism, the Spirit “drove Jesus into the wilderness” for “forty days and nights,” just as Moses found himself alone on Sinai when he received the Law. And like Israel, Christ was “tested” in the wilderness. But unlike the Israelites, he overcame every test and emerged victorious from the desert – “full of the Holy Spirit” – well-equipped to proclaim the gospel.
Continue reading EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT
Matthew portrays Jesus as the Greater Moses, the True Lawgiver who brings the “Law and the Prophets” to their intended fulfillment.
In Matthew’s gospel, the life of Jesus echoes events from the history of Israel. The point is not that Christ reenacted what Yahweh did in Moses and for Israel, but that he brought what God had begun in the distant past to fruition. He is the Greater Lawgiver foreshadowed in the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt under Moses.
Continue reading THE GREATER LAWGIVER
At his baptism, the “voice from heaven” called Jesus “my beloved Son,” identifying him as the Messiah and the “Servant of Yahweh” – Matthew 3:17.
A key theme in Matthew’s gospel is fulfillment. In Jesus, the promises from the Hebrew Bible find their fulfillment and their correct understanding. Peter, for example, declared Jesus the “Messiah” but he failed to understand that he must fulfill that role as the suffering “Servant of Yahweh,” the one destined to die on behalf of his people.
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Jesus declared, definitively, that the “end” will not come until “this gospel of the kingdom of God is proclaimed to all nations.”
When we discuss the future coming of Jesus, quite naturally we ask what “signs” will precede it. Wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, and the like? Spectacular cosmic events in the heavens? The rise of unprecedented evil and chaos? Fortunately, Jesus provided us with a most definitive answer – The completion of the church’s mission.
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At the conclusion of his sermon delivered on the mount, Jesus vested his words with ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY – Matthew 7:21-28.
The Sermon on the Mount is not a program for reforming civil society, implementing economic justice, or a utopian pipe dream for the perfect society. Instead, it provides clear instructions for how his disciples must live in the present age as faithful citizens of HIS kingdom. For his followers, his teachings are not optional, and at the sermon’s conclusion, Jesus vested his words with ultimate authority.
Continue reading PRUDENT OR FOOLISH?