September 21, 2009

The Promise of Nazareth - 1

Jesus himself testified, according to John, that his teaching came from the Father and we must conclude those lessons began of providence in the Nazareth Synagogue. Yet Jesus did no teaching in his hometown before his baptism and we have no reason to think he went anywhere else to do any teaching. So what did he do with all that learning for thirty years, besides sit on it?

Did Jesus live by the lessons he was learning in Nazareth? It would be absurdly hypocritical to imagine he did not. Did Jesus teach lessons he'd spent three decades practicing? Again, if the Gospels' high opinion of this man is reliable, we must assume that he did. The lessons Jesus taught, which eventually came from his Father in ways mystical as well as providential, were entirely focused on interpreting the Law of God and applying it to situations of daily life.

The commandments of God expressed to the Hebrew Nation those things that God wants, that he desires, that he in fact commands. Therefore, sucessfully fulfilling those commandments, one would have to assume, should naturally bring God some divine manner of satisfaction. Thus, in a manner of speaking, fulfilling the Law would be the way to please God.

Matthew, Mark & Luke all profess near the beginning of their Gospels that God was indeed pleased with Jesus. Matthew adds, more pointedly, that Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and fulfilled the Law. The entire Law? Or His own interpretation of the Law? It doesn't matter. Matthew's testimony is that Jesus' life in Nazareth was pleasing to God, and Matthew's account of Jesus' teaching is the Lord passing on ways the rest of us may also become pleasing to God.

Are we therefore also required to fulfill the Law? The Law no longer needs to be fulfilled. Are we required to earn our salvation? Of course not. Jesus already did that for us, too. With such mercies, are we expected to live up to Jesus' standard? With such mercies, we trust that God knows our very human limitations. But with such mercies as we have from God, who among us would not desire to please Him?

To be continued...

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