Johnson University: Jesus Christ’s Understanding of His Own Nature and Mission.

First of all, let me say that this paper is lacking a lot of important points. But they only gave us five pages (double spaced). Well, at least you know it’s a short read. 🙂 My favorite point is highlighted, below.

JESUS’S UNDERSTANDING OF HIS OWN NATURE AND MISSION

The Jewish understanding of Messiah, in first-century Palestine, was “not uniform,” “sometimes confused,” and seldom carried scriptural connotations.[1] What uniformity canbe observed expects a Messiah with an earthly kingdom, who will rescue Israel from its earthly enemies.[2]Jesus saw Himself as the incarnation of YHWH.[3]Thus, Jesus saw his Messianic reign as greater than this world, just as He and his kingdom are greater than this world; and his mission was to help the world’s understanding of the kind of King the Son of Man was to be, as He did.[4]

The Davidic Messiah took on “super-human and transcendent” qualities and was expected to free Israel from earthly powers, in second temple literature.[5]All three synoptic gospels—and John—record Jesus responding to blind men calling him the son of David—and Jesus reaffirming this title’s truth by healing those men—immediately before his entry into Jerusalem—where He was praised as the “Son of David … in the highest heaven (Mat 20:30–31; 21:9 // Mark 10:47–48; 11:9–10 // Luke 18:38–39; 19:38–40).[6]This shows the crowds understood Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem—on a donkey—as a claim to be the Davidic Christ as well. After this Luke tells us of Jesus’s statement—to the Pharisees—that if the crowds stopped praising his name, “the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:40).[7]

Further,  Jesus confirms his kingship when telling James and John that the Father will choose who sits on the right and left of his throne—in heaven (Mark 10:40 // 20:23), and when telling the disciples that they will sit on thrones—under Him—in the coming Kingdom (Mat. 19:28–29 // Luke 22:28–30).[8]Jesus’s explaining his coming to “bring a sword” (Mat. 10:34), and “fire” (Luke 12:49), echo functions of the coming Davidic Messiah—to judge the earth—in OT and second temple literature.[9]Jesus claims of his mission to save the lost sheep of Israel (Luke 19:10; Mat. 10:6) also fulfill the Messianic function of salvation.[10]

Lastly Jesus confirms Peter’s confession that He is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16–17); “the Messiah” (Mk 8:29–30) “the Messiah of God” (Luke 9:20–21).[11]Note how Peter, Matthew, Luke, and—probably—Mark, understand the Davidic Messiah to come from God—not David. And how Jesus affirms He is the Davidic Messiah—who is from God—in all three cases. It is also important to note that Jesus affirms that Peter’s understanding—that Jesus is from God—was given to him by God (Mat. 16:17).

Further, the question invoking Peter’s confession of Jesus’s Messiahship—in Matthews account—is “Who do people say that the Son of Manis?” Not who do people say that I am? Therefore, Mathew, Peter, and Jesus all understood “Messiah” to be a synonym of “Son of Man.” Given that “the Son of Man” is the title Jesus uses most often—by far—to refer to Himself, clearly shows that he understood himself to be the “Messiah of God.” Though some claim that Jesus was denying his Messiahship when referring to Psalm 110 in Mark 12:35–37—the preceding affirms that Jesus is actually developing its primitive worldly definition into something greater.[12]

“The Son of Man” is a theologically loaded phrase used by many prophets and originating with Daniel,[13]However, it is most completely understood in its Davidic and Messianic contexts, and was shown to refer to the “Son of God”—in second temple Judaism—with the discovery of the dead sea scrolls.[14] Furthermore, at Jesus’s trial, the high priest equates “the Messiah” to being the “Son of God,” and Jesus adds “the Son of Man” to these first two synonyms, in his response to the high priest (Mat 23:63–64 // Mk 14:61–62 // Luke 22:67–70).[15]

Except for Mark 15:34, Jesus always refers to God as Father in the synoptic gospels.[16]“… [N]o one know[ing] the Son except the Father, and no one know[ing] the Father except the Son …” (Mat. 11:27; c.f. Luke. 10:22) adds to this idea that—in proclaiming to be “the Son of God” Jesus is claiming to beGod.[17]Therefore, every time Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” He is claiming to be a part of the God Head.[18]It is prudent to note that the previous logical conclusion can be reached from each and everysynoptic gospel. This is important because many—in modern scholarship—refute Jesus’s self-understanding as Emanuel—in the synoptic gospels, to make John’s recordings—of these claims—out to be a later exception to earlier Jesus tradition.

In John’s gospel, Jesus claims to be: “bread of life” (John 6:35, 48) or “living bread that comes down from heaven” (John 6:51); “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12); “the door”—for the sheep (Jn 10:7, 9); “the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14); “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6); and “the true vine” (Jn 15:1, 5).[19]Though some would undoubtedly argue, that these descriptions are ambiguous, a few things must be considered first. John’s grouping of these sayings into seven—the number representing perfection—and God—suggests John understood each one of them to be a claim of divinity.[20]In five of the seven, Jesus contrasts Himself from humanity, by claiming to have life in Himself. John’s prologue explains the pre-existence of Jesus as the “Logos,”which he undoubtedly learned from Jesus when—or after—He claimed to be that “Logos.”Therefore, Jesus’s clame to be the Logos is a claim to be God. Jesus also—explicitly claims to have existed before Abraham (Jn 8:58).

The world has not seen God’s heart from the day it ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, to Israel’s exodus, to the turn of the first century. Then God became a man—who knew he was the incarnate God—to help the world understand things as He did; including his Messiahship.[21]Jesus had come to “proclaimed the message of God” (Mark 1:38 // Luke 4:43).[22]The message was that He was God, and had come to save those who accept they have sinned (Mat. 9:13 // Mark 2:17).[23]And that whoever believes that He is God, will be saved (John 3:16). The purpose of the ministry Jesus did for the people’s physical wellbeing was to help them embrace the truth that the Messiah, is the Son of Man, who is the Son of God, who is God. This is so that we can have a relationship with Him. Now that Jesus has revealed his identity as Lord and Savior, we can begin to do this. How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t know or understand?

SOURCES CITED.

Bird, M. F. “Christ.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Bock, D. L. “Son of Man.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Miura, Y. “Son of David.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Schnabel, E. J. “Mission.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Stapleton, Andrew J.  “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2). (2006): 23–40.

Williams, C. H. “‘I Am’ Sayings.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Winn, A. “Son of God.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

[1]Andrew J. Stapleton, “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2), (2006): 24.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Ibid.

[5]M. F. Bird, “Christ,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 116; Y. Miura, “Son of David,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 882; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24-25.

[6]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26; The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989); All further Biblical citations will be in the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

[7]Miura, “David,” 883

[8]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[9]Bird, “Christ,” 118; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[12]Bird, “Christ,” 117; 119.

[13]D. L. Bock, “Son of Man,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 894.

Bird, “Christ,” 117; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24; A. Winn, “Son of God,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 888.

[15]Bird, “Christ,” 117.

[16]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29; Winn, “Son of God,” 888.

[17]Winn, “Son of God,” 889.

[18]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[19]C. H. Williams, “‘I Am’ Sayings,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 397.

[20]Ibid.

[21]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[22]E. J. Schnabel, “Mission,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 605.

[23]Ibid.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s