We will move into the period of time that Jesus lived on earth. This period will consist of about 30 years from his birth, to crucifixion, to resurrection and then ascension. We will examine this period to test and verify the information leading up to his birth. We find a lot of scripture that substantiates previous periods and societal conditions that we need to put a verification stamp on the period.
The exact date or the time of year of the birth of Jesus Christ is uncertain. Matthew’s Gospel (see Matthew 2:1) records that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (who died in 4BC). Herod’s decision to order the slaughter of all boys in the Bethlehem area aged two or under when he heard the report of the magi (see Matthew 2:16) suggests that Jesus was born during the two years before the death of Herod.
The birth and childhood of Jesus 6BC – 26AD
6 or 5 BC - Jesus is born in Bethlehem. He is visited by the shepherds at Bethlehem, and consecrated to the LORD at the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is visited by the magi at Bethlehem. He and his family escape Herod’s persecution by fleeing to Egypt.
4 BC - Herod the Great dies. Palestine is divided between his three sons – Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Philip.
c.2 BC - Jesus and his family return from Egypt to Nazareth in Lower Galilee.
c.5 AD - Saul (Paul) is born at Tarsus in Cilicia.
6 AD - Archelaus is deposed. Judaea is ruled by a Roman procurator.
c.7 AD - Jesus sets off to visit the Temple in Jerusalem aged 12, rapidly approaching manhood on his thirteenth birthday.
14 AD - Augustus Caesar dies.
26 AD - Pontius Pilate is appointed as Procurator of Judaea.
The ministry of Jesus Summer 26AD – Spring 30AD
Summer 26AD - John the Baptist begins his ministry.
26AD - Jesus is baptized by John in the River Jordan.
26AD - Jesus meets Andrew and his brother Simon.
26AD - Jesus is tempted by the Satan (the ‘accuser’) in the Judean Desert.
Autumn 26AD - Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding at Cana in Galilee.
Spring 27AD - Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. He performs many miracles and teaches Nicodemus about spiritual re-birth.
Summer 27AD - Jesus and his disciples baptize in the River Jordan.
27AD - John the Baptist is imprisoned at Machaerus by Herod Antipas.
27AD - Jesus goes north to Galilee. En route he meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar (Shechem).
Autumn 27AD - Jesus is met at Cana by a royal official. Jesus heals his son.
27AD - Jesus raises a widow’s son from death at Nain.
27AD - Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples.
27AD - Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law at Capernaum.
27AD - Jesus makes Capernaum the base for his ministry.
27AD - John sends two disciples to ask whether Jesus is the ‘Messiah’.
Winter 27AD - Jesus goes on his first preaching tour in Galilee.
Spring 28AD - Jesus preaches the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ near Capernaum.
28AD - Jesus heals a paralyzed man in Capernaum.
28AD - Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) to be a disciple.
28AD - Jesus’s disciples pick ears of corn on the Sabbath.
28AD - Jesus heals a man in the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees begin to plot Jesus’s death.
28AD - Jesus appoints his twelve apostles overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
Summer 28AD - Jesus teaches parables about the ‘Kingdom of God’.
Autumn 28AD - Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
28AD - Jesus sends numerous evil spirits into a herd of pigs near Gadara.
28AD - Jesus brings Jairus’s daughter back to life at Capernaum.
28AD - John the Baptist is beheaded by Herod Antipas at Machaerus.
Winter 28AD - Jesus sends out his twelve disciples across Galilee.
Spring 29AD - Jesus feeds five thousand people in the territory of Decapolis.
29AD - Jesus walks on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.
29AD - Jesus visits the Mediterranean coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon. He heals the daughter of a Phoenician woman.
29AD - Jesus miraculously feeds another four thousand people.
Summer 29AD - Jesus visits Bethsaida and heals a blind man.
29AD - Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the ‘Messiah’ at Caesarea Philippi.
29AD - Jesus is transfigured on the snow-topped Mount Hermon.
29AD - Jesus pays his temple tax to the tax collectors at Caesarea.
Autumn 29AD - Jesus attends the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. The Pharisees try to stone him for alleged blasphemy. He heals a blind man.
Winter 29AD - Jesus is in Jerusalem for the mid-winter festival of Hanukkah.
29AD - Jesus declares ‘I and the Father are one’. The Jews try to stone him for what they perceive to be blasphemy.
Spring 30AD - Jesus travels east and preaches near the River Jordan.
30AD - Jesus visits Mary and Martha at Bethany. He raises Lazarus from death.
30AD - Eyewitnesses report the event to the Jewish Sanhedrin, who plot to kill Jesus. Jesus escapes secretly to Ephraim with his disciples.
Spring 30AD - The death and resurrection of Jesus
Spring 30 AD - Jesus passes through Jericho on his last journey to Jerusalem. He meets Zacchaeus and heals Bartimaeus – a blind man.
Sunday 2 April - Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds assembling for the Passover Festival spread palm leaves on the road and greets him as the ‘Messiah’. Jesus and the disciples stay overnight at Bethany.
Monday 3 April - Jesus curses the fig tree for its failure to bear fruit. On arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus enters the outer courtyards of the Temple and drives out the merchants and money-changers.
Tuesday 4 April - Jesus teaches in the shade of Solomon’s Porch, a colonnaded portico on the edge of the Temple courtyard. In the evening, Jesus is anointed with expensive perfume at Bethany.
Wednesday 5 April - Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests and agrees to betray Jesus.
Thursday 6 April - In the evening, Jesus and his disciples share the Passover meal in an upper room in Jerusalem. Afterwards, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus is arrested and is held overnight at the house of Annas, one of the chief priests.
Friday 7 April - Jesus is tried before the Jewish council (the ‘Sanhedrin’) at daybreak. He is found guilty of ‘blasphemy’ which the council considers merits the death penalty. Peter follows, but denies three times that he knows Jesus. Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate in the Praetorium (Herod’s Palace) and is condemned to death for insurrection. He is crucified by the Romans at Golgotha (the ‘Place of the Skull’) on the hill of Calvary just outside the walls of Jerusalem, and is buried in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. The Sabbath day, the first day of the Feast of Passover, begins at dusk.
Saturday 8 April - The tomb is guarded by Roman soldiers during the Sabbath day.
Sunday 9 April - Three women come to anoint Jesus’s body, but find the tomb empty. An angel tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead. The risen Lord Jesus then appears to Mary Magdalene, to two disciples journeying to Emmaus, and to the eleven disciples in the upper room.
One week later - Jesus appears again to the eleven disciples in the upper room and invites Thomas to touch his wounds.
Some time later - After the disciples return to Galilee, Jesus appears to them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus cooks breakfast for them and asks Peter to ‘take care of my sheep’.
Forty days later - Jesus blesses the disciples and passes into heaven on the Mount of Olives.
We chose to review this point of history for two fold. One was to present references made by Jesus as contained in the New Testament from the Old Testament giving us validation of the Old Testament scriptures, people’s actions and prophecies. This provides us validation of things provided by Old Testament scripture to support historical events. We take this first validation from an article written by Jews for Jesus.
From start to finish, the New Testament contains quotations, references, allusions and paraphrases of the Old Testament. Sometimes the New Testament follows the Hebrew text; in other cases it more closely follows the translation into Greek of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.
This article lists many references to the Old Testament found on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels. They have been organized by the three divisions of the Old Testament: Torah (Five Books of Moses), Prophets (or Nevi’im), and Writings (or Ketuvim).
When Jesus was tempted
The Torah is foundational to Judaism, and Jesus quoted it often. The first three examples below come from the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan out in the desert. Jesus responds to each temptation by quoting from the Torah, showing the supreme value he placed on it for life, thought and behavior.
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, cf. Luke 4:4)
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7; cf. Luke 4:12)
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16)
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10, cf. Luke 4:8)
It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
In the Sermon on the Mount
The next set of examples is from the “Sermon on the Mount,” in which Jesus gives ethical instruction. Each time Jesus begins “You have heard that it was said…” and contrasts it with “…but I say.” He is not contradicting the Torah, about which he would have said, “It is written.” The phrase “You have heard that it was said” referred to popular understandings of the Torah—the way it was understood and applied, the way people learned it from their parents and teachers, the way it was repeated at the watering trough and the back alleys and the shoemaker’s shop. Sometimes that was the same as what the Torah had to say; sometimes not. Yet the basis of those understandings was the text of the Torah, and so we include these examples here.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ ” (Matthew 5:21)
“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’” (Matthew 5:27)
“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18)
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’” (Matthew 5:31)
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house . . . (Deuteronomy 24:1)
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’” (Matthew 5:33)
If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:2; cf. Deuteronomy 23:21)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’” (Matthew 5:38)
But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:23–25; cf. Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:21)
Honoring parents: a key Jewish value
Everyone Jesus spoke to agreed that the Bible taught honor for one’s parents. Then as now, there were some legal loopholes that allowed unscrupulous (or lazy) people a way out. Someone might decide to donate their old bedroom dresser, which otherwise could have been sold or used to help one’s parents, to the Temple in Jerusalem. The dresser would be physically labeled with the Hebrew word “Korban,” meaning “given to God.” (Think of labeling your boxes on moving day “For the kitchen,” “for the den.” These items were “for the Temple.”) According to one school of thought, now that the dresser was “for the Temple,” no one else could use it, including family members. In Jesus’ view, such people neglected to ensure that parents would be honored. In the following example, to make his point, Jesus quotes from the Torah.
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.” (Matthew 15:1-6 ); cf. Mark 7:10)
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, cf. Exodus 21:17)
Divorce and creation
In our next example, Jesus in addressing the question of divorce goes to the Torah.
What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6), cf. Mark 10:6-8)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
The Ten Commandments
Next, Jesus converses with a young man regarding the way to eternal life and God’s commandments. He quotes from the Ten Commandments, also known in Jewish tradition as “the Ten Words.”
And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:17–20, cf. Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20)
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:12–16, cf. Leviticus 19:18">Deuteronomy 5:16-20, Leviticus 19:18)
What Proof Do You Have That Jesus Is the Messiah?
The Scriptures tell us specific credentials to help us identify the Messiah.
The Torah and the resurrection from the dead
In the following example, Jesus quotes from the Torah to challenge the Sadducees’ lack of belief that the dead will (eventually) rise again with a quote from the Torah. Jesus is either arguing that God says, “I am,” not “I was,” and so affirming that if He is their God in the present, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must have continued to live beyond death.
“And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32, cf. Mark 12:26, 27, Luke 20:37-38)
And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:6)
This kind of argument was known to rabbinic Judaism, too. We find something in similar in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 90b), as scholar Joseph Klausner notes:
“It is written, ‘And I also kept my covenant with them (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to give them the land of Canaan;’” it says not “to you” but “to them;” therefore we must deduce the resurrection of the dead from the Law—i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall come to life again and to them shall be given the land of Canaan in the world to come. (Joseph Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth [New York, Macmillan, 1926] p. 319.)
The two greatest commandments
In the next instance, Jesus replies to an inquiry by citing the two greatest of all the 613 commandments of the Torah. Why are they the greatest? Because all the others can be placed under one or the other of these. Note that while the Torah has “all your might,” in Matthew Jesus says “all your mind.” Variations like that were common (the Greek translation of the Torah has “all your strength”) and all the more in verbal conversation. Perhaps Jesus wanted his inquirer to think more deeply about things!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37–39, cf. Mark 12:28-34)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5, cf. Leviticus 19:18)
The testimony of two
In John chapter 8, Jesus’ discussion with some Pharisees is cast in terms of a legal case, for which two or three witnesses are needed. Jesus appears to uses the rabbinic qal va-homer (“how much more”) argument: if the testimony of two people is true, how much more so is the testimony of Jesus and his heavenly Father. The chapter is really about the identity of Jesus (he claims to be the light of the world), and he uses Deuteronomy to highlight that his claim is true.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” . . .
“In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” (John 8:12-13, 17-18)
On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. (Deuteronomy 17:6, cf. Deuteronomy 19:15)
The prophets were the watchdogs of Israel’s conscience. While the Torah instructed in what to do, people often fell short, or worse. So the prophets reminded Israel of the Torah, called them to repentance, and in addition told of what would happen to the nation in the future—judgment for sin, but hope for the future if the people returned to God. Remind, repent, return—this is one of the rhythms we find in the prophets.
Jesus reads from the Haftarah
In the first example below, Jesus is in his hometown synagogue, invited to speak on what today we would call the Haftarah, the portion of the Old Testament accompanying the weekly Torah reading. Here is a message of hope, which Jesus applies to himself. Audacious or not? The listeners will need to decide based on what Jesus will teach and do from now on.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. . . . Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. [Emphasis supplied.] (Luke 4:17–19, 21)
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; . . . (Isaiah 61:1–2)
The centrality of mercy
In the next example, Jesus is confronted by some who wonder why he was not as stringent as they were when it came to whom to eat with. Jesus’ response in Matthew 9:13">Matthew 9:13 is taken from the prophet Hosea, and he applies it to his own attitudes and behavior. “Go and learn” was common rabbinic parlance for studying the Scripture; here Jesus sends his listeners to the prophet Hosea. Later, in Matthew 12:7 "he cites the same passage in connection with criticism that his disciples were plucking grain on the Sabbath."
“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13, cf. Matthew 12:7)
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
The pains of the messianic age
Jesus is sometimes accused of encouraging family turmoil, whereas his followers portray him as a man peace. One might gain such an impression from the following passage in Matthew 10, unless one recognizes that Jesus is quoting from the prophet Micah. Micah’s words form the backdrop to the rabbinic understanding that the messianic age would be a time of great social disruption—and not just the rabbinic understanding, but Jesus’ as well. For more on this section, see “Did Jesus teach his disciples to hate their parents?”
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:35–36), cf. Luke 12:52, 53)
For the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. (Micah 7:6)
The messenger arrives
John the Baptist (or Baptizer) was the forerunner of Jesus. Here Jesus quotes from the prophet Malachi to indicate that John was also a messenger who prepared the way for the Lord. There is an undertone here that Jesus is more than meets the eye, for if Malachi’s messenger prepared the way for God, and John was fulfilling that promise by preparing the way for Jesus, what does that say about Jesus? But it is here no more than an undertone; the focus is on exactly who John is, given the fact that crowds came out to hear him preach.
This is he of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.” (Matthew 11:10; cf. Luke 7:27)
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
Hearing but not understanding
Jesus frequently taught in parables, that is, stories with a point. The point, while often unstated, would be understood by the disciples of a rabbi. Here, Jesus quotes Isaiah, who was told by God that the people would hear Isaiah’s words but fail to understand their spiritual import. Jesus applies that to the people of his day. Many of them will also hear the words of Jesus but not really grasp their import, which was designed to lead them to repentance and faith.
They should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.
Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:14–15, cf. Mark 4:11–13, Luke 8:10)
And he said, “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9–10)
True and false honor
For details, see above on “Honoring parents: a key Jewish value.” There Jesus quoted from the Torah on honoring parents. Here, in the same chapter, he also quotes from the prophet Isaiah about “commandments of men,” that is, human-constructed commandments.
It’s important to note that Jesus was not against any and all traditions. For example, when he observed Passover, he did so by following many traditions that had developed since the days of Moses (the drinking of cups at the Last Supper, etc.). Jesus loved his people, but took issue with certain traditions that may originally have been well-intentioned, but ended up violating the very Torah they were meant to uphold.
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:7–9, cf. Mark 7:6–7)
And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, . . .” (Isaiah 29:13)
House of prayer or den of robbers?
The context in the following gospel passages is Jesus’ displeasure with the way moneychangers operated in the Temple. When Jews from around the Diaspora came to Jerusalem to buy animals for sacrifice, they would need to convert their foreign currency into local coinage. Jesus’ problem was not with the system itself, but with the fact of its location. It may well be that the area called the Court of the Gentiles—the furthest that non-Jewish visitors could approach to the Temple proper—was being overspread by moneychangers, limiting the access non-Jews could actually have. There is also the possibility that price gouging took place. Jesus quotes from both Isaiah and Jeremiah to sum up his assessment of the situation; the “den of robbers” in Jeremiah is metaphorical for a variety of sins listed there. Perhaps the thought is that people were robbing God of the worship and obedience due him by their behavior.
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13, cf. Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46)
. . . these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)
Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:11)
Shepherd and sheep
Jesus here predicts that in the ensuing events—his arrest, trial, and crucifixion—his disciples will scatter as though they never had been his followers. Subsequent events show that when he was crucified, many of them returned to their old jobs, so to speak, disillusioned that he had failed to show himself to be the Redeemer—until the Resurrection forever changed their minds. Jesus here quotes from a portion of Zechariah describing a messianic figure who is taken for a false prophet. He is “my shepherd,” that is God’s, but his striking is all in God’s plan, though it leads to his followers being scattered about.
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” (Matthew 26:31, cf. Mark 14:27)
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. . . .” (Zechariah 13:7)
Counted as a criminal
Here, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 52:13–53:12, the famous Suffering Servant passage of Isaiah. A significant stream of Jewish tradition sees Israel in this passage, while other Jewish writers and the New Testament point to the Messiah as the fulfillment. Inasmuch as the New Testament shows Jesus to be the ultimate Israelite, it makes sense that the passage would be fulfilled in him. Here Jesus quotes from a verse that speaks of how he will be perceived by others: as a criminal, a transgressor, a sinner in Israel.
For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’
“For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:37)
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
God and his students
Here Jesus uses a verse from Isaiah to illustrate his point. Isaiah 54 is talking about the messianic age, a time of comfort and peace when the LORD himself will be the teacher. Jesus intimates that his followers, those who “come to” him are the ones who will show that they have been taught by God and will participate in the messianic age. The additional thought of peace is an undercurrent, suggesting that coming to Jesus will bring peace to individuals and society.
It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me . . .' (John 6:45)
All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)
The Writings, or Ketuvim, include the Psalms (which form an integral part of Jewish liturgy), the Proverbs (giving practical, God-centered advice for life), and a number of other books such as Qohelet (Ecclesiastes), Job, Song of Solomon, and others.
Out of the mouths of babes
In Matthew chapter 21, Jesus is being acclaimed by the crowds as “the Son of David,” a messianic title. Even the children, we read in verse 15, are crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” The acclamation is seen as a threat to the status quo of the Temple and its relationship to Rome. Jesus proceeds to quote from Psalm 8 "in which babies may be metaphoric for the weak and powerless who “speak truth to power”—as the literal children, unbeknownst to themselves, were doing in Matthew. (Praise in place of Psalm 8’s strength is from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in wide use among Greek-speaking Jews.)
. . . and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalms 8:2)
The unexpected cornerstone
Later in the same chapter, Jesus tells a parable (a story with a point), giving another example of “speaking truth to power.” This parable indicts the leadership of the day and warns that they will be replaced by leaders true to their calling. In the process Jesus again quotes from the Psalms, this time from one of the Hallel Psalms, recited at Passover and other occasions. The verse Jesus cites speaks of a “rejected” stone becoming a “cornerstone,” which is a stone of great significance for the entire structure. Perhaps in the original Psalm it referred to the reversal of positions: the nation that once was enslaved becomes a key to the world’s redemption. Jesus applies it to himself: rejected by the Jewish leadership of his day, Jesus will nevertheless occupy the key position in the redemption of the world.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (Matthew 21:42, cf. Mark 12:10, 11, Luke 20:17)
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalms 118:22–23)
The Lord to the Lord
Jesus engages in a discussion about the widely accepted idea that the Messiah would be the son, or descendant, of King David. Jesus quotes from Psalm 110 to demonstrate that the Messiah is more than simply an ordinary descendant of David. Jesus’ words, “How is it then,” is not meant to argue against the common idea, but is a typical challenge to figure out just how various parts of Scripture lined up with one another. The Messiah is both David’s descendant and yet someone greater than that.
He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’?” (Matthew 22:43–44), cf. Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, 43)
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalms 110:1)
When redemption happens
The following example is quite straightforward. Jesus cries out a lament over Jerusalem in the tradition of the prophets and books such as Lamentation. The nation has not accepted the divine love offered, pictured under the image of a hen gathering its chicks. Jesus speaks of the soon-to-come the destruction of the Temple (which occurred some forty years later) and quoting from Psalm 118 again, intimates that redemption will not come to Israel until he is accepted as Messiah.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, 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.’” (Matthew 23:37–39, cf. Luke 13:35)
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. (Psalms 57:1; see also Exodus 19:4; Psalms 61:4)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. (Psalms 118:26)
The abomination of desolation
Jesus refers to the book of Daniel which, on several occasions, mentions an “abomination that makes desolate” or a similar phrase. The chronological context in Daniel varies from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (2nd century B.C.E.) to the first century C.E. and beyond. In other words, this “abomination” is not a one-time occurrence but a pattern that happens at various points in Jewish history. Matthew refers to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., and the abomination has been thought to refer to the bringing of Roman standards into the Temple or Josephus’ mention of a desecration of the Temple by the Zealots. At any rate, the citation from the book of Daniel is to warn Jesus’ hearers and the later readers of Matthew to flee the devastation. (Note: in the Jewish Bible, Daniel is included among the Writings rather than in the Prophets.)
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15–16)
And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27)
Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. (Daniel 11:31; cf. 12:11)
Gods and the Son of God
Next, we find Jesus quoting from Psalm 82. That psalm spoke of “gods,” referring either to the kings of the world who thought of themselves as deities, or to those in Israel such as the judges—we should think of the day-to-day judges of the legal system rather than the special leaders in the book of Judges—who were meant to administer God’s justice. Either way, the psalm says, so much for their failure to do so; the unjust and arrogant will die like all human beings. In John, Jesus uses the rabbinic qal va-homer argument, from the lesser to the greater. If the term “gods” could be applied to those people, how much more can Jesus be the “Son of God.” His remark about consecration may reflect the context of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, which is explicitly mentioned in John 10:22.
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:34-36)
I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” (Psalms 82:6-7)
Betrayal by a friend
Here, Jesus intimates his betrayal by Judas and quotes from Psalm 41. That psalm speaks of a righteous person suffering from illness and from his enemies. Even the psalmist’s close friend who ate meals with him—a special mark of intimacy in ancient times—has turned against him, that is, “lifted his heel” (a move of contempt in some ancient cultures). Jesus had chosen Judas to be part of his intimate circle, but he ended up being the betrayer.
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’” (John 13:18)
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. (Psalms 41:9)
Jesus quotes from one of two psalm that speak of a righteous person and the groundless hatred shown by his enemies. Jesus applies the verse to the way his opponents reacted to his person and to his message. Interestingly, Jewish tradition names baseless hatred (sinat hinam) as one of the causes of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
“But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ” (John 15:25)
Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. (Psalms 35:19, cf. Psalm 69:4)
A psalm from the cross
In the following, Jesus is dying on the cross and cries out with the first verse of Psalm 22. Some have taken this as showing that Jesus abandoned all hope; but the full context of Psalm 22 is rescue and vindication following suffering, and it was frequent to quote part of a Scriptural passage with the full context in mind (possible even in the midst of the agony of crucifixion!). Furthermore, since Jesus atoned for the sins of the world at his crucifixion, it is often suggested that for a moment God the Father forsook Jesus as He turned away from the sins of humanity that Jesus had taken on.
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, cf. Mark 15:34)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? (Psalms 22:1)
The second reason we wanted to review this period is to set the perspective of going forward in history. When Jesus died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven the world changed. Just as we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:52 KJV “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Things happened that way the day Christ arose from the grave.
Let’s look at just some of the changes.
Salvation through faith not sacrifices.
World finally was all Gentiles and Jews. We had a label.
The world, even though the Jews were God’s chosen people through Abraham, we were all on a level playing field. Everyone had to be saved through Christ in order to go to Heaven.
The world was put on notice that he who protects God’s people, the Jews, would also be protected and blessed. This was important because of how history has unfolded around the persecution of the Jews as we will see in our rebuilding of history.
The church was the same before Christ was born, when he was born and after he ascended into Heaven. They worshiped idols throughout history. So for those of the Roman Catholic Faith don’t be discouraged that you had no idea as such. People were taught lies about the church before Christ. Christ took them on head-on during his life and showed their satanic ways. Christ did not change the church before or after his death. They were left to their own with all other gentiles that had to come to salvation. The church should not and continues to be one that people have placed on a high pedestal of how religion should be practiced. We need to wake up and understand the truth here. They have been the same in the Old Testament, during Christ’s time on earth and remain the same today.
Jesus as the “Presence of the Future”
1. By his resurrection and ascension, God’s Son preceded us into the future of the whole universe, thus becoming humankind’s one and only hope. In 1 Peter 1 we read: (NIRV, emphasis added):
In his great mercy God has given us a new birth and a hope that is alive. This hope is living because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He has given us new birth so that we might share in what belongs to him . . . . Even though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, you believe in him. You are filled with a glorious joy that can’t be put into words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls. It is the result of your faith.
2. Who holds the future? Jesus claims he does:
I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22, NIRV).
3. At the opening of Revelation, not only is our Savior honored as the one who “is and was” but also is declared to be the one “who is to come.” In other words, he has reached the grand climax of history ahead of us. But even now the grand themes of our future can be seen in who he is, where he is headed, what he is doing, and how he is being exalted at this very moment—with dramatic specificity.
Our Lord Jesus provides the WAY to reach our ultimate destination because he precedes us into that future and by the Spirit comes to us to lead us there.
4. In contrast, even at their best, other religious founders and teachers who try to provide their followers a path to some ultimate destiny continually fail because like us, they are corralled by the present, confined one moment after the next in the vortex of time.
In John 14, Jesus reassured his disciples about this dimension of his current activity in an exchange with Thomas. We read: “[W]ould I have told you that I would prepare a place for you there? If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIRV, emphasis added).
5. Creation’s future will not be defined and decided, first of all, through apocalyptic interventions but rather through a Person.
Not only is Christ leading us to the end, he is waiting for us at the end because he himself is the end. Not only does he call his disciples to follow him to the end, but he also brings back to us foretastes of the end as he reigns among us right now the way he will rule among us then.
6. Christ fulfills in himself our grandest expectations about what eternity holds for us.
All of God’s promises are defined by him and consummated in him. Therefore, today those in union with him already are enjoying delights of the life destined eventually to saturate the new heavens and earth.
He’s been there before us. Therefore, at this very moment, right where we live, he is able to bring his indestructible life back to us as he shares its blessings with us, doing so not superficially but substantively.
7. As the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1), Jesus has become for us the vanguard for our coming day of resurrection.
It has already arrived—in him! Therefore, we are walking in resurrection today because we are walking united with him!
Furthermore, because he was designated the firstborn of creation and firstborn of the resurrection, and in keeping with the custom of the Hebrews’ firstborn sons, Jesus has been designated and ordained to be the solitary heir of everything created and recreated. He inherits everything that is delivered from the curse of death—all that comes “alive in Christ” both now and later.
8. Similarly, the ascended Jesus presents himself before the eyes of the universe as the firstfruits of the greater harvest yet to come (1 Corinthians 15).
In a profound sense, our death already has been swallowed up in victory. That happened when the long-anticipated day of resurrection broke in upon our fallen world that first Easter Sunday.
Now, in his continuing incarnation, in his glorified humanity, Jesus is “Exhibit A” of what all of his followers soon shall become—in body, soul, and spirit—at the hour of his glorious re-appearing.
9. We might say that as the “Son of Man,” the Son of God defines God’s people “eschatologically.”
In Jesus, as the “Son of Man,” we see how humankind one day will be reconstituted. We see humanity as our Creator intended all along.
In fact, who Jesus is right now is what all of God’s redeemed one day will become when we are fully conformed to Jesus’ image.
God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. In that way, Christ will be the first and most honored among many brothers (Romans 8, NIRV).
10. Because Christ has gone ahead of us into the Consummation, we can look at him right now and say with the reformer John Calvin:
Although I am weak, there is Jesus—already powerful enough to make me stand straight. Although I am feeble, there is Jesus—already living in immortal glory and what he has right now will be given to me, and I will partake of all his benefits (emphasis added).
11. Jesus has gone ahead of us into the future to prepare our dwelling place in his approaching kingdom. Compare these two statements Jesus made in the upper room:
There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, would I have told you that I am going there? Would I have told you that I would prepare a place for you there? If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am (John 14, NIRV).
Then, a few minutes later he prayed:
So now, Father, give glory to me in heaven where your throne is . . . . Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me (John 17, NIRV).
12. Primarily, it is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus brings the future to us. As he promised in the upper room:
[The Spirit] will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me (John 16, NLT, emphasis added).
Although we may not experience the quantity of the Consummation that remains in the future, Christ by the Holy Spirit pours into us the quality of our coming life with him.
13. Specifically, we have been sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit as a down payment on all that is waiting for us from our Lord in the coming ages.
The Spirit’s presence among God’s people guarantees to us the total fulfillment of the future toward which Christ currently is leading us (2 Corinthians 1).
14. His Spirit abiding within us, in fact, creates a deeply intimate experience of the “presence of the future”—a daily, personal foretaste of the life we one day will share under Christ’s reign.
Already through the Spirit’s activity among us, we have been allowed to “taste of the powers of the age to come,” according to Hebrews 6.
15. Now, as we follow Jesus, we are invited to present ourselves to God as if we already were raised from the dead, as we walk in the newness of his risen life.
[W]e were buried with Christ into his death. Christ has been raised from the dead by the Father’s glory. And like Christ we also can live a new life . . . we have been joined with him in a death like his. So we will certainly also be joined with him in a resurrection like his . . . . We died with Christ. So we believe that we will also live with him . . . . When he died, he died once and for all time. He did this to break the power of sin. Now that he lives, he lives in the power of God. In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead as far as sin is concerned. Now you believe in Christ Jesus. So consider yourselves to be alive as far as God is concerned (Romans 6, NIRV, emphasis added)
16. Outside of Christ, we once were “dead men walking.” In union with Christ, who has gone before us into eternity and brought that future back to us, we have become “risen men and women reigning.” Just as Paul reminds us:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5, NIV).
17. Right now Jesus puts us on the resurrection ground of the future so that we may present ourselves to the Father as those whom he regards as having passed from death into life through our Savior (Romans 6; John 5).
Participating by faith in Jesus’ end-times resurrection, we are treated by God as if we currently were standing on the other side of judgment day and walking in the new heaven and earth.
18. We have been forged so thoroughly to a destiny that’s inseparable from the destiny of God’s Son that we are reckoned by the Father as if already we’ve been glorified. Note how all the verbs in Romans 8:30, including “glorified,” are written in the past tense:
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8, NIV, emphasis added).
Our Father receives us and treasures us as if we are living with Christ at the Consummation, already enjoying many of the universal displays of his cosmic reign, already “glorified” with him and all who belong to him.
19. Therefore, abiding in Jesus, we too should follow him daily as if Jesus in his second coming already had arrived and gathered us to himself.
In a very real sense, through our union with the one who has gone before us into the future, it has!
We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder (Hebrews 12, NIV).
20. In Christ we should live each day as if we already had stepped into the City of God that someday soon, at the end, will descend out of heaven (see Revelation 21-22). That’s precisely how Hebrews 12 describes Jesus followers at this very moment:
You HAVE come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You HAVE come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. (Hebrews 12, MSG, emphasis added).
21. United to Christ, believers around the globe are abiding daily in the coming age because all of us are abiding daily in the Ruler of that coming age.
He is for us, here and now, the substance and source of the new creation that one day soon will engulf all things, especially the saints from all the ages.
22. So, as we saw previously, we might say that even if the end is not yet chronologically near, it is always Christologically near.
It resides in him, while at the same time he resides among us. What a marvelous transaction that is! In Christ the future remains forever “at hand.” It is always impending, always imminent. That’s because at every moment “the Judge is standing at the door” (James 4).
23. Therefore, we should live daily in unceasing anticipation of how Jesus will bring to us what we might call “approximations of the Consummation.”
We should expect to experience such foretastes in very practical ways as Christ brings the future back to us and includes us in “previews” of its promises—doing so within us and through us moment by moment.