Published on July 16, 2009
Bible Alive: Jesus Christ
Class Ten: The Implicit Christology of Jesus
The following presentation would be impossible without these resources
And most of all… By Father Roch A. Kereszty o. cist. Thank you Father Roch!
Setting the Tone We look at the heart of the Lord and the question that is decisive for eternity fills our innermost being, our innermost heart and life: Do you love me? Do you love me in such a way that this love generates a blessed eternity, that it truly, powerfully and invincibly generates my everlasting life? This question is not answered because the answer would no longer be a secret; we could give it to ourselves. The question enters the mystery that has come near to us in the heart of the Lord. But when it enters this heart, because it is asked with faith, hope and love, that question is not answered but overpowered by the mystery that is love, by the unquestionable reality of the mystery of God. . . . —Karl Rahner, S.J.
Setting the Tone The Spiritual Birth within my soul is oneWith that whereby the Father doth beget the Son. —Angelus Silesius.
Setting the Tone It is impossible properly to teach devotion to the Sacred Heart. With confidence in the Church and the Spirit, we must try to approach its mystery. We must eventually, in the luminous and in the dark hours of life, try to pray: ‘Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me.’ We should perhaps try to practice a prayer like the Jesus prayer of the Russian pilgrim. We might venture to use this word like a mantra in Eastern style meditation. But over and above all that, we must experience in life that it is most improbable, most impossible, and so most evident that God, the incomprehensible, truly loves us and that in the heart of Jesus Christ this love has become irrevocable.” —Karl Rahner S.J.
Let us Pray O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.
Summarizing Last Class We saw that Jesus did not need divine inspiration to realize that his life was in imminent danger. We discovered how Jesus saw his vocation as the fulfillment of the suffering Servant and thus his death as an expiatory sacrifice of a unique kind. We saw how Jesus’ suffering and death could be and were part of God’s plan. We explored the Kingdom of God in the Last Supper. We learn the significance of “Eli, Eli, lemahsabbachtani,” and saw the Sacrifice of Jesus in new light and what it brings about..
Scholar War In the early part of the twentieth century there was a battle between what Dogmatic or Systematictheologians and professional exegetes could discover about Jesus from Scripture. What do you think the dogmatic or systematic theologians were eager to find in the “authentic words” of Jesus? They desired to find “explicit references and statements” in the “authentic” words of Jesus himself IN SUPPORT OF the dogmatic truth of his divinity, his equality with the Father, and his pre-existence.
In this Corner, the Exegetes… What did the modern exegetes say to this? They agreed with Adolf von Harnack (d. 1930) that the Gospel as Jesus proclaimed it, has only to do with the Father, not the Son.
Balanced Perspective CRISIS— Hans Urs von Balthasar (d. 1988) and Walter Kasper were able to resolve the dilemma and built a truly Catholic systematic Christology that is honestly and deeply biblical. Here are three considerations to take into account with their findings when dealing with this apparent contradiction:
ONE: Jesus with the BIG HEAD?? If Jesus is truly the Son, he should be expected to speak about the Father rather than himself. Why?— Imagine a Jesus with an “explicit Christology”, a Jesus who would place his own person and dignity at the center of his preaching and everything. What would that indicate? That would be a warning. It would be highly suspicious. It would indicate a megalomaniacal personality in Jesus.
TWO: Jesucristoesnumero UNO! Jesus had a mission of solidarity and self-emptying with us. What would have happened to that mission of solidarity if he preached an explicit Christology?— Since the mission of the Son was to be like us in all things except sin, he would have defeated his mission of solidarity and self-emptying if his preaching centered on his own greatness.
THREE: God is ONE Consider the religion of Jesus and his contemporaries. What is significant about it that could be destroyed by an explicit Christology? Jesus viewed Jewish monotheism as the starting point for his preaching. Since Monotheism is Jesus’ starting point, he would do nothing to destroy or weaken it. Thus, Jesus had to abstain from any explicit Christology. Only at the end, when he gave up his life in obedience to the Father and rose in the transcendent glory of the resurrection could he be known for what he is: he is no second god, a rival to Yahweh, but rather the Son whose divine dignity and being consist precisely in that he receives EVERYTHING from his Father. In other words, ONLY HIS DISCIPLES could develop an EXPLICIT Christology, after seeing his life and pondering his teaching in the light of his death and resurrection.
How Jesus Saw HIMSELF We MUST now study the “implicit Christology of Jesus.” We must ask him, along with his contemporaries, “WHO do you claim to be?” How does that question relate to the four written Gospels? Each, at its center, ASKS that question, and EACH, in its OWN WAY, attempts to ANSWER that question. As explained in the first classes, Kereszty also approaches this question with the Easter-faith.
POST-Easter Perspectives The Apostolic answer to the question is always given from the perspective of what event? EASTER. The Resurrection! And often the answers we find to the question are given in the four gospels accompanied with formulations developed by the early church after several decades of pondering over and reflecting on the Mystery of Jesus.
History as Easter Foundation Keretzky, relying on the exegetes’ works, NOW seeks to isolate, with a certain degree of probability and even certainty, the sayings of the earthly Jesus (Stage One) from the later kerygmatic and catechetical formulations of the Church (Stages Two and Three). It is on the basis of these claims and sayings that he attempts to describe the “claim” Jesus made during his earthly life. Why does Kereszty do this? It is necessary to show us that the Easter faith of the disciples in Jesus Christ the Son of God and God Himself is NOT discontinuous, nor unrelated to, the EARTHLY figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Stages Two and Three CONTINUE and RELATE to Stage One. In truth, it was the earthly itinerant Rabbi who laid the foundation for the Easter Faith.
What is IMPLIED by “Among You”? When he says that the original Gospel of Jesus is only about the Father and not the Son, Harnack exaggerates. Yet there is in his statement a kernel of truth: The transcendent identity and dignity of Jesus is revealed primarily in the way he speaks and acts in his Father’s stead and in the way he relates to his Father. Read Lk 17:21. Jesus says The Kingdom of God is among you. What is implied there? What would people “with ears for hearing consider this saying to mean? Those with “ears for hearing” would catch the implication—The Kingdom is among them because in the words and mighty deeds of Jesus God himself is present and active.
Come Upon You? Read Mt 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS! Read Mk 2:1-12 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic – "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
Forgiveness of Jesus, Forgiveness of God Read Mk 2:1-12. Describe God’s power present in Jesus. God’s power in Jesus not only heals the sick, but he also goes after and forgives repentant sinners. Jesus’ TABLE fellowship with sinners, Walter Kasper rightly observes, implies that Jesus is AWARE that he has the authority to proclaim God’s forgiveness of their sins. By forgiving sins, he attributes a divine authority to himself. The Pharisees clearly see the enormity of this claim: read again Mk 2:7. The forgiveness Jesus pronounces is the forgiveness of God himself.
Authority of the Prophets Ex 5:1—Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” Ex 8:1—Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me…’” Ex 10:3—So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me…’” Ex 32:27—And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” Ex 35:1—Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things which the LORD has commanded you to do…”
Authority of the Prophets 2 Sam 12:1-7—And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity!” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul…’”
Authority of the Prophets Is 1:2—Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken:“Sons have I reared and brought up,but they have rebelled against me…” Is 3:15-16—“What do you mean by crushing my people,by grinding the face of the poor?” says the Lord GOD of hosts. The LORD said:Because the daughters of Zion are haughtyand walk with outstretched necks,glancing wantonly with their eyes,mincing along as they go,tinkling with their feet… Jer 26:2, 4—“Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah which come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word … You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law which I have set before you…’”
Authority of the Prophets Ezek 5:5—Thus says the Lord GOD: This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries round about her. Ezek 5:7-8—Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes or kept my ordinances, but have acted according to the ordinances of the nations that are round about you; therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you; and I will execute judgments in the midst of you in the sight of the nations. Ezek 5:11—Wherefore, as I live, says the Lord GOD, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will cut you down; my eye will not spare, and I will have no pity.
The Authority of Jesus Compare these statements with Jesus’ sayings on the kingdom. What is different? It is most unusual. When introducing his teaching on the Kingdom, Jesus says “I say to you” or “Amen I say to you.” How is this different than the prophets? The prophets transmitted a message from One outside and above them. But Jesus’ “I” speaks with absolute divine authority, an authority even above and beyond that of Moses’. Jesus does not simply transmit a message from someone OUTSIDE himself. The word of Jesus comes from DIRECTLY from the Father. His words are DIRECTLY God’s word. The “amen” formula used by Jesus, something that could only make sense in his Jewish milieu, nonetheless is totally unique to Jesus. NO other known Jewish charismatic or teacher used that expression.
Amen Explained Amen comes from the same root as the word “believe” and “trust” in Hebrew—aman. This root word expresses solidity, trustworthiness, and faithfulness. And so we can understand why “amen” may express both (ONE) God’s faithfulness towards God’s People and (TWO) the People’s trust in him. Whenever amen is used, it is ALWAYS a response. It is a response to God, appears at the end of prayer, and in the Old Testament whenever uttered implies ABSOLUTE and total submission to his Word. Neh 8:6—And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. It was also used as a liturgical acclimation by which the community of faith makes as its own the prayer and praise of one who prays in its name. 1 Ch 16:36—“…Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said “Amen!” and praised the LORD.
The Amen and Jesus Thus the “amen” PRECEDING an address of absolute authority—“I say to you” contains in nucleus the whole of Christology. The Amen of Jesus has a HIDDEN PREHISTORY; it is the final act of a dialogue between the Father and Jesus.
Unique Authority Because it comes from the Father, the words of Jesus are of divine authority. Yet the Father’s divine word is Jesus’ own, not that of an “outsider” as is the case with all other prophets. HERE then is the first hint of the mystery of Jesus’ personal identity: Jesus absolute authority is based on his absolute dependence on his Father. This is contained in the “Amen, I say to you…”
The Amen This is contained in the “Amen, I say to you…” Jn 7:16, 8:28—So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me … When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.” Rev 3:14—“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation…” See how the Fourth Gospel sometimes paraphrases this formula? See how the book of Revelation goes one step further by saying that not only is Jesus’ word a response and witness to the Father, but that Jesus himself is “AMEN,” his very person is the response and faithful witness to the Father.
Master & Disciple Consider how Jewish teachers and rabbis of ancient times related to their disciples: A young man who wanted to learn Torah would seek out a master. Then he would join the Rabbi, become a member of his family, live with him, until the time arrived when he achieved a certain level of expertise. At that point he would leave the Rabbi and be recognized as a Teacher of the Law in his own right. Is that how it is with Jesus’ disciples? NOT AT ALL…
Discipleship & Jesus Read Mk 1:16-20—And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.”And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. Mk 2:14—And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him Mk 5:18-19—And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Discipleship & Jesus Read Lk 5:1-11—While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Discipleship & Jesus Read Jn 1:35-51—The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Kephas” (which means Peter)...
Discipleship & Jesus John continued— …The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
A Different Kind of Discipleship Is the Master-Disciple relationship different in the case of Jesus? It is very different with Jesus. First, unlike the case of rabbinical students, Jesus’ disciples are ELECTED by Jesus, as HE, the TEACHER, seeks them out and finds them; the initiative lies not in the disciple. With sovereign freedom he SEARCHES out those he wills; others, he sends away.
Discipleship Forever Also, how long does discipleship last? Mt 10:24-25—“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!” Mt 23:8—But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. Once a disciple of Jesus, always a disciple. Unlike the students of Rabbis, to be a disciple of Jesus is a permanent condition.
Beyond ALL OTHER Disciples Luke 14:26—“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple…” Even his closest family ties are to be abandoned in comparison to Jesus’ call to be his disciple. This is very different than Jewish contemporary teachers. Lk 9:59-60—To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” One of the most sacred duties of a Jew was to bury his own parents. But the call to be Jesus’ disciple takes precedence even over that!
OUTRAGEOUS! What do you think, upon hearing these outrageous statements concerning his disciples, Jesus’ contemporaries must have asked themselves? Who is THIS!?!? Who in the HELL does he think he is? Who is he to DEMAND from me unconditional loyalty, an absolute allegiance that dwarfs even the most sacred family bonds, intimate relations, and even attachment to my very life???
Allegiance to God in Allegiance to Jesus What do we encounter here in Jesus’ paradoxical attitude? The absolute allegiance to the person of Jesus is ultimately is allegiance to God. The “Amen,” Jesus’ WHOLE LIFE is a response to a divine “demand” (dei). He MUST accomplish his mission in obedience, and he includes his disciples in the same mission. He calls people to UNCONDITIONAL discipleship by an authority BASED on his own UNCONDITIONAL obedience to his Father.
Parables & Christology The parables present an implicit Christology. They are meant to shake the listener up and make them think they can never exhaust the meaning of the parable.
Parables & Christology Read Lk 15:3-6—So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’”
Parables & Christology Jn 10:1-18— “Amen, amen, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them...
Parables & Christology Cont. …So Jesus again said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”
Comparing Shepherds Ezek 34:1-12—The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them…
Comparing Shepherds "Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
Jesus—the Good Shepherd When comparing “the Good Shepherd” of the New Testament with Ezekiel 34:1-12, what do we learn about the image of “shepherd.” Who is the Shepherd really? The well-intentioned, biblically educated hearers of the parable in Luke and Jesus’ teaching about the Good Shepherd in John… what would they have gotten from this? It is God HIMSELF who will do this! Ezek 34:12—I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
The Prodigal Son Take the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Who does the forgiving Father represent? Who does the wayward son represent? Who does “the other brother” represent? The audience must realize who the Father in the parable represents. But if that is so, how would they interpret Jesus’ banquets with repentant sinners? Those who see these things witness God’s loving and merciful action.
Consider the Bridegroom Read the short simile of Mk 2:18-19— Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast…”
Consider the Bridegroom Now read Is 62:1-5— For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,until her vindication goes forth as brightness,and her salvation as a burning torch.The nations shall see your vindication,and all the kings your glory;and you shall be called by a new namewhich the mouth of the LORD will give.You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.You shall no more be termed Forsaken,and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;but you shall be called My delight is in her,and your land Married;for the LORD delights in you,and your land shall be married.For as a young man marries a virgin,so shall your sons marry you,and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,so shall your God rejoice over you.
Consider the Bridegroom Jer 3:1-3— “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from himand becomes another man’s wife,will he return to her?Would not that land be greatly polluted?You have played the harlot with many lovers;and would you return to me? says the LORD.Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see!Where have you not been lain with?By the waysides you have sat awaiting loverslike an Arab in the wilderness.You have polluted the landwith your vile harlotry.Therefore the showers have been withheld,and the spring rain has not come;yet you have a harlot’s brow,you refuse to be ashamed…” Consider also Hosea chapters 1-3 and Ezekiel chapter 16
Who is the Bridegroom? In the prophetic tradition the whole history of Yahweh and Israel is dramatized as what? It is as a love story between the jealous husband Yahweh, and his unfaithful wife, Israel. Who is the bridegroom then in Jesus’ simile in Mark about fasting? If anyone was familiar with the prophetic tradition listening to Jesus call himself the Bridegroom, what would be the inescapable conclusion? Jesus is comparing himself to Yahweh! Could he really be Yahweh COME to the Messianic Wedding Feast?
The Landowner’s Son Explain the seeming paradox of the story of the wicked tenets, found in all Synoptics (Mk 12:1-9), told in the narratives when the storm of opposition increasingly endangers his life. How could the Landowner recklessly and foolishly risk the life of his son?? The only way to comprehend this detail of the story is if the Landowner EXPECTS his tenants to RECOGNIZE him as DIFFERENT from all the previous messengers, as his Son, and that they will be awed by the greater dignity of the latter. This is a warning for the Leaders of Israel not to murder the Son. A given for the story is the qualitative difference between the Son (Jesus) and the other messengers (the prophets before Jesus). The parable makes no sense otherwise. This is a self-revelation that is INDIRECT and open-ended. In this way, Jesus avoids being squeezed into any pre-existing category or formula, and invites his audience to consider his identity.
Something Greater than the Old Prophets Mt 12:41-42— The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Who is this man? He is affirmed to be GREATER than the prophet who converted the dreaded Ninevites, that is, the worst of the Gentiles! Who could be greater than the wisest, most glorious king on earth? Jesus only makes sure that his audience CANNOT avoid the issue of his personal identity; the audience itself must draw the conclusion. But what would they be thinking?
Abba When Jesus is confronted by hostile or indifferent audiences, he often pressures them to consider his identity. In the presence of his chosen disciples, it is different—Jesus manifests the unique relationship with his Father: In particular, he allows them to SEE and HEAR his prayer. Through the use of Abba, Jesus shows his unique intimacy with the Father.
The Way Jesus used “Abba” Kereszty agrees with J. Jeremias (d. 1979): It matters not whether each and every instance of addressing God as “Father” (“Abba”) in Jesus prayer is historically authentic (Stage One). Perhaps other Jewish charismatic miracle workers occasionally called God “Abba,” Father. But no one can deny that Jesus uses “Abba” in all his prayers, with the exception of his Markan-Matthean prayer on the Cross, in which he quotes Psalm 22:2 (see J. Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus, p. 55).
Unique Use of Abba Kereszty: this fact is unique in Israel’s history By the time of Jesus, some Jewish prayers were addressed to God as Father in Heaven—Israel considered itself as a whole the son of God (cf. Ex 4:22-23; Hos 11:1). And yet “King,” “Ruler of the Universe,” and “My Lord and my God” were far more predominantly and frequently used—“Abba” never became prevalent. Since the earliest, pre-Pauline Christian communities, the word “Abba” (expressing the unique, filial relationship of Jesus to God) has characterized the Christian’s share in that relationship. Paul assumes his audience is already aware of that relationship in his own use of “Abba” (cf. J. Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus, pp. 11-29): Gal 4:6—And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Rom 8:15—For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!"
The Meaning of Abba Kereszty explains “Abba” is a family word that means “father” with the emphatic and vocative case—“MY FATHER!” In using this address in all his prayers, Jesus demonstrates an awareness in his unique intimacy with God. Note that he distances himself from his disciples: Jesus never addresses God together with them as “Our Father,” and yet, he bestows on them a share in his own unique relationship with his Father. The Theology of the Fourth Gospel clarifies that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we become the brothers and sisters of Jesus. It is only then that his Father becomes our Father (Jn 20:17).
Fragmentary Evidence Kereszty explains that this investigation has taken us through fragmentary evidence; it is not against reason to attribute these to the earthly Jesus (Stage One), but Kereszty holds that the Gospel Traditions describe Jesus authentically. Kereszty’s purpose is to provide for the claim of the earthly Jesus SOME historical evidence founded on reliable exegesis. A series of converging indications has been collected and presented here This evidence should not be easily dismissed by an open-minded historian.
Martin Buber: Open-Minded Jewish Philosopher and Theologian Martin Buber (d. 1965) on Jesus from his lifelong studies of the New Testament: My own fraternally open relationship to him has grown ever stronger and clearer, and today I see him more strongly and clearly than ever before. I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to him in Israel’s history of faith and that this place cannot be described by any of the usual categories (Two Types of Faith: A Study of the Interpretation of Judaism and Christianity, pp. 12-13).
Who is this Man? Jesus is Mystery. Without the perspective of the Resurrection, all one can say is that the words and works of Jesus do not fit any pre-conceived human category Jesus seems greater than rabbi, chaismatic miracle worker, or prophet. He seems closer to God than any other human, but he is more an abysmal failure than any other so-called “great historical personality.” This inability spurs us on to answer the question: “Who is this man?”
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