18. Jesus the Fulfillment of the Promise – Part Two

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Introduction

Last session we considered Paul’s statement, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (II Corinthians 1:20) and saw how Jesus came not merely to fulfill God’s promises but as the fulfillment itself. We saw that Jesus is the Messianic King, Second Adam, the Faithful Israel, and the New Tabernacle. We will continue our overview of the life of Christ and consider how He is the fulfillment of all God’s promises.

I. The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Part Two

A. Jesus’ Galilean Ministry

Turning to the book of John we begin after the temptation in the desert and find Jesus calling his first disciples. Turning to chapter two we see His first sign of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. As a sign this serves to illustrate the newness of Jesus’ messianic mission and serves as a symbol of the messianic age. By this he manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him. As Jesus continues to travel he arrives in Jerusalem and cleanses the temple an event that both inaugurates and illustrates the nature of His ministry.

Will someone read John 2:18-22?

While no one seems to understand the significance of Jesus words here He boldly claims that He is the true temple. His cleansing of the temple symbolizes His mission to fulfill the temple’s purpose and replace it with an undefiled temple. This theme is expounded upon as Jesus leaves Jerusalem and begins to travel to Galilee. Jesus chose to go out of His way and travel through the despised region of Samaria and eventually He arrives in the town of Sychar and he sits down by a well.

Will someone read John 4:7-26? What is the significance of Jesus’ offer of living water? What is the significance of “this mountain” and Jerusalem as it pertains to worship?

If we were to turn back to Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple (Ezekiel 40-48) we would see that water is to flow from the new temple to nourish the land. Jesus is boldly proclaiming to be the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision and the Holy Spirit is the living water which flows from Him (cf. John 7:37-39). The mountain Jesus is speaking of is Mt. Gerizim, the center of Samaritan worship. As the new temple a time will come when worshipers will neither worship at Gerizim nor in Jerusalem because they will worship in Christ.

With the arrival of Christ in Galilee we turn to the synoptic gospels.

Thinking back to our previous study what was the message that John the Baptist was sent to proclaim?

John was sent to warn the people the King was coming as he cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Would someone read Matthew 4:12-17 and Mark 1:14-15? What message does Jesus come to proclaim? What accounts for the difference between the messages of Jesus and John?

Jesus comes proclaiming the presence of the kingdom! The King has arrived and He is calling His people to repentance!

What all does this entail? What does He mean by this? If we turn to Luke 4:16-30 we will see how Luke describes the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry and the reaction of those who came to hear Him.

How does Jesus describe His ministry and why do the people react so violently?

The people who heard this clearly understood that Jesus was claiming to be the Lord’s anointed, the son of David, the Messianic King who would liberate God’s people from captivity and proclaim the Lord’s salvation. Unlike John Jesus did not speak as one heralding the coming kingdom, He spoke as the embodiment and fulfillment of the kingdom. This sparked rage in Jesus’ hearers a rage that was compounded when he responded by reminding them of how Elijah and Elisha were not sent to heal Israel but the enemies of Israel. With this they sought to throw Him off of a cliff.

While Jesus claimed to be the Messianic King “in a certain sense Jesus himself is the kingdom of God because he reveals the dynamic and spiritual power of the kingdom.”[81] Not only is Jesus the kingdom of God He is also the fulfillment of the prophetic ministry; as both revealer of the kingdom and the kingdom revealed Jesus is the true prophet. As the kingdom that Jesus was proclaiming was far different than what the people had expected, to the point that they would react violently to its proclamation, we need to look to the Kingdom Parables for a further explanation (Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18).

There is much that can be learned from these parables; however, only a few aspects will be highlighted here. First, the kingdom has both present and future aspects, it is not arriving all at once. Second, the kingdom begins small and grows so that many are blessed by it.

B. Jesus’ Later Judean Ministry

Due to time constraints we will not be looking at Jesus’ later Judean ministry.

C. Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus seeks to prepare His disciples for what is about to occur with His third and final passion prediction (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34).[82]

Will someone read the passion prediction in Mark?

This sets the tone for everything that follows. Despite the crowds’ seemingly unanimous approval at the triumphal entry they will quickly turn against Him.

D. Jesus’ Death, Burial, and Resurrection

The scene of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem is described in Mark 11:7-10.

Will someone read that passage?

What follows is a type of literary sandwich, also called interpolation, in which the final temple cleansing is set within the narrative of Jesus cursing a fig tree. Just as we noted earlier that the temple cleansing in John serves to symbolize the inauguration of His ministry so too is this event equally symbolic as it symbolizes the consummation of His ministry. Like the fig tree, that was condemned for failing to bear fruit, so too Jesus condemns the temple because it has failed to function as “a house of prayer for all the nations.” Jesus as the new temple will replace this failed temple and He will be “a house of prayer for all the nations.” Over the following days the plot to kill Jesus unfolds as the tension between Him and the religious leaders grows. On the night before his betrayal He gathers with His disciples to celebrate the Passover.

Will someone read Luke 22:14-20? What is Passover? How does Jesus transform the meaning of Passover?

The Passover is the celebration and remembrance of when the Lord passed over those who had placed the blood of the sacrificed lamb upon their doorposts and killed the firstborn of those who did not. Jesus is the Passover lamb through whom we have redemption. Even more Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire sacrificial system if we were to read the book of Hebrews we would see how Jesus fulfills both the role of the priest and of the sacrificial lamb. And with His death, burial, and resurrection He does just that. The forgiveness promised by the prophets and longed for by Israel has been granted in Jesus.

Nevertheless, the kingdom has not fully come and so in Acts 1:6 the disciples ask “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus responds not by explaining when the kingdom will come but by pointing them to how the kingdom is presently coming “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7b-8). Just as Jesus came and proclaimed the presence of the kingdom so too are the disciples to go and spread the presence of the kingdom by witnessing to the good news concerning its King.

II. The Life and Ministry of Jesus as Eschatology

While all of the promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus the tension between the present state and the future realization of the promise that we have noted up to this point continues even after the death of Christ. This is the tension between inaugurated and future eschatology. It has both present and future aspects. While the kingdom has come most fully in Jesus it has not come in its entirety. God’s people still await future fulfillment.

Conclusion

Of all of the Old Testament roles and promises that Jesus fulfills which is the most significant to you and how is this applicable to your life?

[81] VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 353.

[82] The first passion prediction (Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-91; Luke 9:22-27) and the second (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43b-45)

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