Jesus Christ proclaimed God’s kingdom and family⤒🔗
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Matthew 7:28-29
Jesus was Son of God incarnate, and his teaching, given him by his Father (John 7:16-18; 12:49-50), will stand forever (Mark 13:31) and finally judge its hearers (John 12:48; Matt. 7:24-27). The importance of paying attention to it cannot, therefore, be overstressed. Jesus taught as Jewish rabbis generally did, by bits and pieces rather than in flowing discourses, and many of his most vital utterances are in parables, proverbs, and isolated pronouncements responding to questions and reacting to situations.
All his public teaching was marked by an authority that brought amazement (Matt. 7:28-29; Mark 1:27; John 7:46), but some of the teaching was enigmatically expressed, requiring thought and spiritual insight (“ears,” Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; Luke 14:35) and baffling the complacent and casual. Jesus’ reason for only dropping dark hints about (for instance) his messianic role, atonement, resurrection, and forthcoming reign, was twofold: first, only events could make these things clear in any case; and second, Jesus’ concern was to call people into discipleship through his personal impact on them, and then teach them about himself within that relationship, rather than to offer detailed theological instruction to the uncommitted. Nonetheless, Jesus’ statements often are clear, and many of the fuller presentations in the epistles are best read as so many footnotes to what Jesus said.
Jesus’ teaching had three regular points of reference. The first was to his divine Father, who had sent and was now directing him (Matt. 11:25-27; 16:13-17, 27; 21:37; 26:29, 53; Luke 2:49; 22:29; John 3:35; 5:18-23, 26-27, 36-37; 8:26-29; 10:25-30, 36-38), and to whom his disciples must learn to relate as their Father in heaven (Matt. 5:43-6:14, 25-33; 7:11). The second was to people, both individuals and crowds in their lostness (Matt. 9:36; Mark 10:21), the addressees of his constant and many-faceted calls to repentance and a new life (Matt. 4:17; 11:20-24; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32; 13:3-5; 15:7; 24:47). The third was to himself, as Son of Man, a messianic title (Matt. 16:13-16). “One like a son of man” takes the kingdom in Daniel 7:13-14. For Jesus’ own use of this title, see Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62 (echoing Daniel); Matthew 12:40; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33, 45; 14:21, 41; Luke 18:31-33 (predicting his death and resurrection); John 3:13-15; 6:27 (declaring his saving ministry).
Out of Jesus’ witness to his Father, to people’s need, and to his own role, three theological themes take form:
- The kingdom of God. This is a relational reality that came with Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s plan for history, of which Old Testament prophets had constantly spoken (Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-12:6; 42:1-9; 49:1-7; Jer. 23:5-6). The kingdom is present with Jesus; his miracles are signs of it (Matt. 11:12; 12:28; Luke 16:16; 17:20-21). The kingdom becomes real and crucial in a person’s life when he or she submits in faith to the lordship of Christ, a momentous commitment that brings salvation and eternal life (Mark 10:17-27; John 5:24). The kingdom will be preached and will grow (Matt. 24:14; 13:31-33) until the Son of Man, now reigning in heaven, reappears for judgment and, in the case of his faithful servants, for joy (Matt. 13:24-43, 47-50).
- The saving work of Jesus. Having come down from heaven at the Father’s will to bring chosen sinners to glory, Jesus died for them, calls and draws them to himself, forgives their sins, and keeps them safe till the day of their resurrection, glorification, and introduction into heaven’s happiness (Luke 5:20, 23; 7:48; John 6:37-40, 44-45; 10:14-18, 27-29; 12:32; 17:1-26).
- The ethics of God’s family. The new life, which comes to sinners as a gift of God’s free grace, must be expressed in a new life-style. Those who live by grace must practice gratitude; those who have been greatly loved must show great love to others; those who live by being forgiven must themselves forgive; those who know God as their loving heavenly Father must accept his providences without bitterness, honoring him at all times by trusting in his protecting care. In a word, God’s children must be like their Father and their Savior, which means being utterly unlike the world (Matt. 5:43-48; 6:12-15; 18:21-35; 20:26-28; 22:35-40).
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