Free «Matthew, Portrait of Jesus» Essay Sample

The New Testimonies portrays Jesus as a man with strong ethical values and moral principles. The stories of the New Testimonies are the announcement that in the face of this hopeless situation God has done something to set things right. The Christ-centered unity of the Bible is expressed in the theme of promise and fulfillment. Christians often express this truth by saying that the Old Testament prophecy finds its fulfillment in the New Testament. At times this theme receives a mechanical expression that obscures its real strength. Examples of strained interpretation occur.

Certainly Jesus, while he founded his teaching upon the fact of the living God and his rule, and set the individual in social relationships as an essential part of human life, nevertheless put his message before people for their personal decision and claimed their lives for responsible personal obedience. That is why he came preaching. He did not try to use compulsion, although his deep earnestness was unmistakable. He would have nothing to do with merely formal religious living. (Matt. 7:21) He appealed for voluntary, responsible decision to accept his message, enter his movement, and take a willing part in his work. Jesus could establish his movement within the framework of Judaism; it was already common practice for groups to arise, press their interpretation of the ancestral faith, and still remain within the bounds of Israel. Similarly, Jesus had no intention of seceding from Judaism; he considered himself fully loyal to his people's heritage (Matt. 5:17). But he had a new message of the Kingdom to present, and he called men to repent, believe, and shape life in the light of that truth. Because he rejected every usual support of political organization, nationalistic appeal, or formal ritualistic worship, he was the more able to put his message before people so that it demanded intelligent personal decision (Porter, 2007).

Sanders (2006) admits that the writer of Matthews did not take into account the parallelism in the poetic passage of Zech. 9:9, where only one animal was in mind, so he described Jesus as riding into Jerusalem on two animals (Matt. 21:1-7). From the later stages of God's working, the church could look back and see that in Christ and the rise of the church, God had in part fulfilled those promises. The church did not claim complete fulfillment. The decisive action had occurred in Christ, but the full results of that victory had not yet been achieved. They would come; what God had done in Christ guaranteed this to men of faith, and the working of the Holy Spirit steadied and supported this confident conviction.

The intended audience of Mathew is Jews.

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It addresses problems and concerns of this nation and their need for faith and strong moral values. The decisive stage of fulfillment, however, had begun. Prominent in Jesus' message of the Kingdom is the promise that the effective and full reign of God is coming.) This has always been God's world. He made it; he has never lost control of it. But the sin of men and the moral conflict of history has obscured the fact of his lordship, and the existing situation fails to express the kingship of God (Porter, 2007). The New Testament promise of the Kingdom assures believers that the manifest, full, and effective reign of God is coming. Instead of the moral confusion that has marked the world scene, evil will be defeated, right will be vindicated, the loyal people of God will be given free and secure fellowship with him, and the honor of God will be vindicated. Mathew writes:

"Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit" (Mathew 3: 12)

Taking into account the original audience, I can say that Jesus was moved to speak by his conviction that history had arrived at its climax, that mankind faced its greatest crisis, that God was in the act of bringing his full and effective rule to pass. Part of the significance of Jesus' miracles lies in their evidence to Jesus that this effective rule of God was beginning. We usually think of these miracles as expressions of Jesus' compassion, and so they are. His human kindness, his care for health of body and mind as well as of soul, find winsome expression in these powerful acts. But Jesus saw more in them. He saw the triumphant power of the Spirit of God at work to banish sickness and death as well as sin and frustration (Matt. 12:28). To those with eyes to see, they were clues that the kingdom of God had begun to be effectively established in their midst. But this is far from being the whole truth. The fact of conflict between the will of God and the forces of evil remained. Neither Jesus nor any of his followers were in doubt about that. They could not say that the Kingdom had fully come, that God's will was being done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:10.) Jesus spoke of the fully realized kingdom as future (Porter, 2007). He warned his hearers to live by the will of God in order to be ready to enter the Kingdom.

"And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased" (Mathew 3: 21).

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Even at the end of his life Jesus spoke of the still future final drama. He used pictorial language, and it is not certain how clearly the church preserved his words on this theme. But this much is clear: he declared that the coming, final action of God through the Son of Man would effect the full purpose of God and establish his permanent reign over all the world.

I agree with the proposed interpretation of Jesus and his portrays because it unveil human features of Jesus and emphasizes his strong national character. To ignore that future aspect of Jesus' kingdom teaching makes it hard to understand why the apostolic preachers emphasized the future coming so much. It also conflicts with the words of Jesus and assumes that Jesus ignored the moral conflict that still existed in the world. This change of emphasis was not an essential change in Jesus' message of the Kingdom. To be sure, if Jesus had spoken of the eternal Kingdom, present before he came and continuing in and beyond his ministry, then stress on the fresh privilege of eternal life (Porter, 2007).

A change in the focus and statement of the Christian message, however, is just what we would expect the church to develop. Momentous events had occurred: the final rejection of Jesus by Jewish leaders, the death of Jesus, his resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. His followers could not be content to repeat just what he had said. They had to face the fact that he had not won his people by his life and teaching; he had been widely rejected. His ministry and teaching alone had not achieved his purpose. Even his closest disciples had deserted him at the last, and Peter had denied him. They needed something more, divine help that came only through the complete work of Jesus. The Cross and Resurrection were seen to be essential to all future faith and thought. The New Testament doctrine ties back to an historical event, and the Christian interpretation of that event appears so promptly and universally in the church that we can hardly ascribe it to pagan influence. The pagan nature cults reveal a longing for life, and in their later forms a longing for life beyond the grave, but they cannot serve as the explanation of the New Testament emphasis on the Cross. This teaching of the importance of the individual has been looked on as a foundation of democratic government and is one of the things people often have in mind when they talk about the religious foundation of democracy. His death showed the completeness of his dedication to God and love for man. It willingly accepted the uttermost sacrifice to give the help which kindness, friendship, and teaching combined had thus far failed to give. It was at one with the love of God in its purpose of redeeming men. He knew what he was doing. He was acting out of steadfast good will to accomplish what even his life and ministry had thus far failed to achieve. As a matter of fact, it is a constant feature of human life that parents, friends, and sometimes even strangers act in moments of danger or over long times of strain to relieve endangered or helpless people from whatever danger besets them. People are reached by unselfish love, and recaptured for physical life or moral renewal, precisely by unselfish dedication of others, who pay a cost and suffer a penalty or burden which they had no need to assume apart from human love or kindness. The feature of vicarious helpfulness and even of sub-stitutionary suffering to rescue and deliver others is not the moral outrage some take it to be. God has built it into the very heart of the gospel, and wherever his Spirit and will prevails. These early Christians were not so concerned to explain how this had happened as to witness to the fact that it had happened to them and to many others they knew. Christ died for them; it was a great truth, in view of their spiritual failure, that he had died instead of them. They did not seek to escape condemnation for their sins; they could not worship a God who did not condemn them; they accepted that condemnation. They had been deeply in the wrong and unable to do anything about it; but they had found when they confessed their guilt that Christ had given them the deliverance they had not deserved. This was the miracle of grace which Christ's death had brought. It had been costly; it had been vicarious; it had been effective (Sanders, 2006).

Thus all that Jesus Christ meant to faith and all that believers must say of him came more clearly to light with the passing of the years. The essentials of the high view of his person emerged with amazing rapidity, but its full and formal statement took time. All of this Christology grew out of a vivid sense of the unique meaning of his work. What he had said and done, what he had meant to his hearers and followers, led them to fuller statement of what he was. This is why we first described Jesus as the herald and bringer of the Kingdom, and as the effective redeemer of men, before attempting to sum up what the New Testament says of his personal greatness (Sanders, 2006). Because he has done great things for his people, because he is the living God who acts in history and is the sovereign Lord of men, the Bible must make great affirmations about him and his importance for human life and thought.

Just so, the work of Christ leads to high statements about his nature and relation to God. Jesus was a prophet and teacher. In this he was like many Old Testament spokesmen for God. He followed the prophet John the Baptist, and like John, he gathered disciples and taught men. He was much like the rabbis of his day. The rabbi had his followers, who learned their message and their place in Jewish leadership by accompanying their leader, hearing him, watching what he did, and discussing problems with him. Lord would act for the Father at that judgment. He would have and exercise the authority to pronounce the final divine judgment on all mankind. The pictorial portrayal of the judgment in Matt. 25:31-46, a section which many Christians have taken as a nonChristological passage, teaching only human kindness, indicates that Jesus himself thought of his work as extending to that final judgment (Sanders, 2006). The New Testament does not often use the designation God for Christ, and it is not possible to determine how many passages contain it. Some cases are ambiguous; the reference may be to God the Father rather than to God the Son. (Pelikan, 1999).

In sum, Mathew proposes an outstanding portrait of Jesus and his deeds based on historical traditions and audience's needs. More than this, through Christ God opens the possibility of righteousness to men through faith. Here is a totally new way of dealing with sin. Men could not be made righteous by punishing them, for this left them where they were, though it prevented complete chaos in the world. They could be made righteous only by treating them as if they were righteous, by breaking the chain of evil that held them in bondage. Obviously Jesus was no mere man to these Christians. He was so linked with God the Father that they had to recognize his high rank and unique nature as "our great God and Savior." The use of the designation God to define that high nature was the logical crystallization of the attitude which worship and thought had presaged throughout the course of the historical age.


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