God’s Promises to Man and the World

GOSPELS AND THE PROMISES

Mark introduced Jesus as the One to come by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1.  Matthew 3 and Luke 3 quoted Isaiah correctly.  The messenger or the voice in the wilderness was identified with John the Baptist.  The One in question was Jesus the Christ or the Messiah.  Jesus himself insisted that John the Baptist was Elijah and that he was the last and greatest of the prophets.  Mark quoted, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.” “But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it was written about him,” (Mk. 9:12-13). 

Matthew added, “This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'” “I tell you the truth: ‘among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.  For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come'” (Mat. 11:10-14).

Jesus would suffer like Elijah, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.  But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.  In the same way the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood hat he was talking to them about John the Baptist (Mat. 17:11-13).

Both, Matthew and Luke regarded Jesus as a descendant of David (Mat. 1:1-16; Lk. 3:23-31).   He was identified with the Immanuel prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and with his birth in the Davidic town of Bethlehem in Micah 5: 2 (Mat.3; Lk.3).  On the eight day, the baby Jesus was circumcised and dedicated in the Temple with the prescribed pair of doves (Lk. 1:21-24).  For Matthew, Jesus was the Light of Isaiah 9:1-2 and the Servant of Isaiah 42: 1-4 (Mat.5: 15-16; 12: 18-21).  When Jesus read the Scroll of Isaiah 61, he quoted verses one and two, and declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Then, Jesus added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:17-21).

By the Scriptures Jesus hinted at Moses and the Prophets as sufficient guides that can qualify a person for the kingdom (Lk. 16:29; Mk. 12:28-34; Mk. 10:19).  He felt strongly that the traditions of the fathers had abrogated the Law (Mk. 7:8-13; Mt. 15:3-9).  He declared emphatically, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teach these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:17-20).

In essence, the Scriptures were the map or even the schedule Jesus had to follow.  In the parable of the tenants, after the owner of the vineyard was killed, Jesus concluded, “Haven’t you read this scripture: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;  the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'” (Mk. 12:10-11 or Mt. 21:42; from Ps. 118:22-23).  John the Baptist was sent as a witness and Jesus had this to disclose, “I have testimony weightier than that of John.  For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.  And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me.  You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One he sent.  You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (Jn. 6:36-40).

The very lack of response to Jesus was in accordance with the Scriptures.  Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:9-19 and 29:13, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, ‘You will be ever hearing but not understanding; you will be ever seeing but not perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them'” (Mt. 13:13-15). “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.       They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by man” (Mk. 7:6-7).

Noteworthy was Jesus claim in John 7:38, that is if he had Zechariah 14:8 in mind.  I believe that Jesus did. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (Jn. 7:37-39).  Jesus echoed Zechariah, “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.  The Lord will be king over the whole earth.  On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zech. 14:8-9).

There are two references from the Psalms that Jesus used to claim his Lordship (Ps. 110:1) and his Son-ship (Ps. 82:6).  These came in response to the common believe that Christ was David’s son and that no human being could be the Son of God.  “How is it that the teachers of the Law say that the Christ is the son of David?  David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord,’ “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.  David himself calls him ‘Lord.’  How then can he be his son” (Mk. 12:35-37; Mt. 22: 41-45; Lk. 20:41-44)?  Jesus raised this question,” Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?  If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came – and the Scripture cannot be broken – what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?  Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?  Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.  But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may learn that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (Jn. 10:34-38).

On the last day of his life, of course, Jesus no longer went as the Son of Man but as the Christ.   At his trial he remained silent until his Son-ship was questioned.  Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus.  “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mk. 14:61-62).  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it was in accordance with Zechariah 9:9 and with Psalm 118:26.  His own did not receive him, but children sang praises to him (Ps. 8:2).  His house of prayer (Isa. 56:7) had become a den of thieves (Jer. 7:11).  Jesus’ zeal for his house (Ps. 22:18), drove the abomination out of the temple (Jn. 2:17).  He stood on the Mount of Olives (Zech.14 4), saw the abomination and desolation of Daniel 12:11 coming down upon his beloved city and cried out to them,  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Mt. 23:37-39; Lk. 13:34-35).  Jesus had fulfilled the conditions to the Promises when He spoke his last words: “It is finished”(Jn. 19:30).