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The Gospel Of Matthew by William R. Cannon


Before his election to the episcopacy in 1968 United Methodist Bishop William R. Cannon served as Professor of Church History and then Dean of Chandler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. Other books by Bishop Cannon include The Gospel Of John, Jesus The Servant, and The Book Of Acts. The Gospel Of Matthew was published by The Upper Room, Nashville, 1982.This material prepared by Paul R. Mobley.


Chapter 6: The King Of Glory


In Matthew's Gospel, the passion, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Christ are presented as a single event. Indeed, this is the only way the evangelist can justify his claim that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. To be sure, a king can be deposed by his subjects, and this is what happened to Jesus. A deposed king is generally either exiled or killed. When killed, there is no possibility of the restoration of a monarch. When exiled, there is always the chance, remote though it may seem at the time, that the ruler will come back, destroy his enemies, and take full possession of the kingdom. His reign does not end with his being deposed. Deposition is but an interlude, not a finality.

The passion and crucifixion are the deposition of Jesus as King of the Jews. At the same time, they are necessary preparation for his exaltation as the king of glory. John Wesley used to recite every Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer: "Thou art the king of glory, O Christ; Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. . . . When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers." Christ was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God only after undergoing the pain of rejection, condemnation, and crucifixion.

Matthew, like the other three evangelists, had the benefit of seeing the end of the story of Jesus. He did not consider each incident in the career of Jesus as it happened, but rather saw it all in general perspective. Consequently he gives a regal cast even to the passion and death of Jesus. They stand not in the dark shadow of the cross but in the rising morning light of the Rtion. The regicide committed by Jesus' contemporaries is, then, the coronation and glorification of God's only begotten son.

1. Conspiracy and Consecration (Matt. 26.1-16) Rejection and glorification are delineated together throughout the final section of the Gospel.

Jesus' work as a teacher is over. His oral message is finished. Now he is not so much the subject of action as he is the object of the action of others: his fellow countrymen and the Romans who destroy him, and God who raises him from the dead and thereby proves that he is indestructible.

Jesus again foretells his crucifixion and warns his disciples that it will be only two days hence (Matt. 26:1-2). The conspiracy against Jesus by the chief priests, the elders, and Judas Iscariot is juxtaposed with the tribute paid Jesus by the woman with the alabaster box of precious ointment.

First comes the conspiracy. The Jewish leaders confer about how they can secretly arrest Jesus and kill him. Then they agree it must not be at the Feast of the Passover, lest their action incite a riot (Matt. 26:3-5). Evidently Jesus is very popular with the people even in Jerusalem. Alongside the Jews' resolve not to do anything against Jesus during the season of the feast is Jesus' own prediction that he will die after the Feast of the Passover. This is most important in Matthew's interpretation of Jesus. The blood of the sacrificial lamb on the doorposts of the Israelitish homes in Egypt caused the death angel to pass over and spare the firstborn within those homes. Now the Lamb would be sacrificed, and his blood would spare from sin and death those who depend on it. Jesus uses the passive voice in his prediction, saying that he is betrayed in order to be crucified. But the active voice is used throughout in the conspiracy scene. The chief priests and elders take the initiative. Their plan to kill Jesus is carefully considered. The death of Jesus is premeditated.

The scene of the conspiratorial council is interrupted by another action, entirely different from it. While Jesus is eating a meal in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, his attention is drawn to a woman with a very expensive ointment which she pours on Jesus' head. The disciples disapprove of her action. To them this seems a total waste. The ointment might have been sold and the proceeds from it given to the poor. But Jesus appreciated what she did, was grateful for her gift, and said she did this in preparation for his burial. He knew the disciples would not have objected to her action had he been dead. It was customary for loved ones to anoint the bodies of their dead with precious oils and spices. When a king was anointed, oil was poured on his head. This woman by her act had anointed her king. Jesus' crucifixion and burial would at the same time be his coronation. The coronation by the Jewish crowds on Palm Sunday, which they would repudiate on Good Friday, this good woman had hailed and reaffirmed in her act of consecration in the house of Simon the leper.

What the disciples wanted to do with the ointment by selling it on behalf of the poor was laudable, but not as laudable as what the woman did with it. Jesus accepted her act as a dedicatory offering. He rebuked the criticism of the disciples with his own criticism of them. He told them that they would always have the poor with them and that there would be innumerable opportunities to help the poor. But he told them that they would not always have him. If they wanted to do something for him, now was the time.

What this woman has done will be told wherever the Gospel is preached, Jesus said, so that long after she is dead and gone, her act of tribute will stand as a perpetual memorial to her.

Except in reference to the Last Supper, this is the only time the word memorial is used in the Gospels, and it is used to describe this expression of love on the part of the woman for Jesus. What she did was not a philanthropic act. It was not charity in the sense of giving something to someone in need. It was not done in behalf of the destitute and needy. Instead, it was an extravagance, a waste, a display of luxury on the part of one who could least afford it lavished on one who really did not need it. Yet that act of personal tribute becomes a part of the Gospel, illustrating love for Jesus must be the highest priority in our lives.

Judas Iscariot was there, saw what the woman did, and witnessed its effect on Jesus. Nonetheless, he repaired himself to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus to them for a price. Even in the action of Judas, Matthew sees the fulfillment of prophecy. "They weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver" (Zech. 11:12). The chief priests and the elders, the Romans, Judas -- though all evil in their handling of Jesus and worthy of final judgment and condemnation -- are nonetheless pawns of destiny and agents in the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew remembers Jesus' words: "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" (Matt. 18:7).

The anointing of Jesus by the woman on the one hand and the conspiracy of the priests and elders and their contract with Judas on the other hand, though entirely different in motive and deed, nonetheless stand together in the Gospel. Both are essential in the fulfillment of the mission of Jesus.

2. The Passover Meal (Matt. 26.17-30) The double motif is apparent at the Last Supper. On the one hand, Jesus observes the Passover with the Twelve and interprets it, not historically, but eschatologically (in terms of the future), where he himself becomes the paschal lamb. On the other hand, he calls their attention to the fact that there is a traitor among them.

The disciples asked Jesus where he wanted to go for the meal. He replied that they should ask a certain person in Jerusalem to invite them home for the observance. This would have been on Thursday of what we now call Holy Week, the day before the Crucifixion. On that day the lambs were slaughtered, and they had to be eaten that very evening. A day started and finished at sunset for the Jews.

Moses prescribed that the Passover would be observed by families. Each household would provide its own meal. However, if a family was too small to consume the lamb, another might be invited in to share the meal. Jesus' family was the disciples. In this instance, it is not likely that they shared the meal with the family in whose house they observed the Passover. Probably the family ate their meal together in one part of the home, and Jesus and the disciples ate theirs in another, say in a room upstairs, the upper room as it has come to be called. Matthew stated that the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them to do and that they prepared the meal (Matt. 26:19). If they had eaten with the family, the members of the family would have prepared the meal.

Matthew recalls that at the beginning of the meal Jesus predicts that one of the Twelve will betray him. This upsets the group. Each protests that it is not he to whom Jesus refers. We translate this response as a question: ''Is it I, Lord? Is it I?'' But what they really meant was a categorical denial, "Not I, Lord! No, no, not I! "Jesus ignores them. He goes on to say that the person who dipped his hand in the dish with him is the guilty person. In Jesus' day people ate their food by sopping a piece of bread in the dish and taking pieces of food up on the slice of bread. However at Passover, they dipped their hand in the dish and took the food out with their fingers. In all likelihood they had not noticed the person who put his hand into the dish with Jesus. The man himself knew. Jesus knew. Judas said, "You don't mean me, do you?"Jesus simply replied, "You know the person I mean." Here again the others seem not to have caught the meaning of Jesus' response to Judas. Had they understood, they probably would have risen in indignation against Judas.

Immediately Jesus took bread and blessed it and gave it to them to eat with the explanation that this broken bread was his body. He gave thanks for the wine and poured it for them to drink, explaining that this was his blood which he would shed for many for the forgiveness of their sins. He called this the new covenant. He insisted that he would never again drink wine until he had the opportunity to drink it with them in the kingdom of God. What does all this mean?

Bread and wine are the perpetual symbols of Jesus' body and blood. At the Last Supper, Jesus served the disciples the bread and wine which they themselves had prepared for the meal. The bread and wine represented the sacrifice Jesus would later make on the cross for them and for others, so that their sins might be forgiven.

This was a new covenant which would take the place of the old covenant established by Moses in Egypt when the Israelites ate the lamb and spilled its blood on the doorposts of their home so that the angel of death would pass over them. The followers of Jesus would substitute the Last Supper for the Passover meal of the Jews. They would eat bread and drink wine in remembrance that Christ their savior died on the cross for their sins and thereby effected their deliverance from sin and death.

Jesus knew that this would be his last meal on earth. He would eat no more. The next banquet he would host would be with those whom he had redeemed in God's everlasting kingdom beyond all time and all earthly existence. Thus the Last Supper anticipates the messianic banquet in the kingdom of heaven.

After eating bread and drinking wine together, Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn and walked out of the house, left the city, and came to the slopes of the Mount of Olives.

All the food and features of the old Jewish Passover are here. The ritual observances are in order and are complete. But as the meal progresses, it takes on a new character altogether. It is transformed by Jesus into a Christian sacrament. The prayers and the hymn are the same as they always were, and yet they are entirely different. This feast marks the transition from the old order to the new. The Passover in Jerusalem on the eve of the Crucifixion becomes the Eucharist, the new meal in the new Israel to establish a new world.

3. In the Garden and before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:31-75) But the old Israel is in power now, so much so that even the heralds of the new Israel cannot resist its sway. Therefore, Jesus' first utterance when he and his disciples reach the Garden of Gethsemane is the lament that they will all desert him before this night is out. Their failure to stand by him in his passion is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, which Matthew is careful to note by including the quotation which Jesus gives when he predicts what his disciples will do. "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Zech.13:7).

Peter protests. He says to Jesus, "No matter what these others might do, I will never desert you." Jesus responds, "Why, Peter, you will be the very first one to leave me. Before dawn, you will deny me three times by swearing that you never knew me." "No, no, no," Peter cries, ''I will die first. You mean more to me than life itself." And the other ten who are present echo Peter's sentiments.

Jesus turns away from the disciples and walks farther into the Garden of Gethsemane on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, but Peter, James, and John follow him. He stops them and asks them to stay together where they are and pray for him. He tells Peter and the two sons of Zebedee: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Matt. 26:38). Jesus is so steeped in scripture that he expresses himself with quotations from the Hebrew Bible. What he says here is from Psalm 42:5. He goes farther on but stays in sight of the three disciples. When he is entirely alone, he unburdens his soul to God. He confesses to his heavenly Father that he is afraid and wants to be spared the agony that is before him, but that he is prepared to fulfill the will of God. Here we see how human Jesus really was. His reaction to anticipated pain was the same as ours would be.

He comes back to find the three disciples have fallen asleep. He shames Peter. "Remember what I told you. See, you could not stay awake praying for me just one short hour. Oh, I know your intentions are good, but you are weak. You had better pray that you do not fall into temptation."

Jesus walks away to pray again to God. He still dreads what lies before him. He comes back a second time to the three disciples. This time they are fast asleep, and he does not disturb them. It is after he has prayed alone the third time that he wakes them, for he realizes that the time of his arrest has come. "Get up," he says. "Be wide awake. I am about to be betrayed. Let us go from here."

At that point Judas Iscariot arrives with the guards of the high priest and others forming a motley crew. The noise no doubt drew the other ten disciples to Jesus. Judas had told the chief priests that he would identify Jesus by kissing him. So he rushes up to Jesus, throws his arms around him, and kisses him. Jesus says to Judas, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?''

Matthew is the only evangelist who uses the word friend in his Gospel. Usually he employs the word to mean its opposite. It is used sarcastically or tongue in cheek. Jesus calls Judas friend when his act of treachery shows him to be the worst enemy Jesus could possibly have.

One of the disciples, whom Matthew does not identify, tries to defend Jesus. This disciple cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest with his sword. John tells us in his Gospel that the disciple was Peter (John 18:10). But John wrote his Gospel after Peter was dead. If Matthew wrote his while Peter was still alive, then perhaps he did not identify him for security reasons. He did not want to expose Peter and make him liable for prosecution. Peter probably had acted so quickly that, in the dark, the crowd had not seen who had struck the servant of the high priest.

In order not to diminish Jesus' role as rightful king, Matthew is careful to record that Jesus said he could have called down from heaven more than twelve legions of angels if he had chosen to do so. He rebuked the guards for coming after him in the middle of the night with weapons when they might have taken him at any time while he taught the people in the Temple.

Jesus was brought then before the high priest and the council of the Sanhedrin, the highest governing body in Jewry. The law required that for a person to be indicted there had to be at least two witnesses to the crime. The tribunal produced many witnesses, but the evidence they gave was contradictory and insubstantial. Finally two witnesses did agree that Jesus had predicted that he would destroy the Temple and then rebuild it in three days. But this testimony became irrelevant when the high priest asked Jesus, "Are you the Messiah?" Jesus replied, "You have spoken correctly, and you shall see the Messiah in power and coming on the clouds of heaven." This is all the Sanhedrin needed. It condemned Jesus for blasphemy.

The other disciples dispersed and fled after Jesus' arrest in the garden. But Peter followed the master and waited for him in the courtyard outside the high priest's palace. There he was accosted by two different women, each of whom said Peter had been with Jesus. He said he did not know what they were talking about. But others who stood about said, "Your accent is Galilean. You have to be one of his followers." Peter swore that he had never known Jesus. The cock, herald of the dawn, began to crow. Peter remembered Jesus' prediction that he would deny him, and Peter broke down and cried.

Inside the high priest's palace, Jesus was being mocked and abused and spat upon. People would come up behind him and strike him with their hands and then say, "Messiah, prophesy to us and tell us who hit you."

4. Condemnation and Crucifixion (Matt.27:1-66) The trial of Jesus is unique. There has been none other quite like it before or since. Jesus was exonerated under Roman law. Nonetheless, it was the Roman penal code that put him to death.

All the Sanhedrin could do was to indict Jesus. It acted as a sort of grand jury. It could neither try a case nor pronounce a sentence. It could recommend, in this case, to indict. It was up to the Romans to make final disposition of a case when the case was grave enough to carry the death penalty.

Early on the Friday morning after Passover, the Jewish leaders took Jesus to the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, insisting that he find Jesus guilty and put Him to death. The evidence the Jews presented was so flimsy and nebulous that Pilate found Jesus innocent.

When Judas Iscariot heard that the Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus to death, he regretted that he had betrayed his master, and he returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. He admitted to them that he had betrayed an innocent person. "That means nothing to us," they said. They had gotten from Judas all they needed. The traitor flung the pieces of silver on the floor before them and went outside the city and hanged himself. The Jews could not put "blood money" into the Temple treasury, so they bought a field with the thirty pieces of silver and used it as a place to bury strangers. It was known as potter's field or the field of blood.

Matthew says this is the fulfillment of prophecy. He quotes a verse from the Old Testament which he attributes to Jeremiah, but which is from Zechariah I 1:12-13. He knew the verse, but his memory failed him as to its author. The name "potter's field" comes from the fact that Zechariah threw thirty pieces of silver to the potter. Matthew's confusion was due to the fact that Jeremiah went to a potter’s house (Jer. 18:2) and later purchased a field (Jer. 32:6-15). The land was also called "field of blood" because the chief priests had purchased it with blood money. Matthew does not specify where Judas hanged himself. Later tradition identifies the place as this same field of blood. If so, the priests purchased the field of Judas' suicide.

Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews, and he admitted to Pilate that he was. However, Jesus refused to respond to any of the witnesses the Jewish leaders brought to testify against him. Though his life was at stake, he offered no defense. Pilate marveled at his composure and self-control. Pilate's wife warned her husband to take no action against Jesus. She had had a dream about Him, and she was sure Jesus was innocent. Pilate realized that the Jews were trying to kill Jesus because they envied him.

Since the custom was to release a prisoner each year at the time of the Feast of the Passover, Pilate offered to release Jesus. Evidently there was only one other candidate for clemency, a notorious criminal named Barabbas. He was so notorious everyone knew his name. Nonetheless, the crowds chose Barabbas. The people would choose anyone in preference to Jesus. Only because he feared a bloody riot did Pilate yield to the demands of the crowd. He took a bowl of water and washed his hands, saying that he found no fault whatever in Jesus and could not assume responsibility for his death. The Jews in the courtyard cried out that they would take responsibility for Jesus' death.

The soldiers took the prisoner, stripped him of his garments, put a scarlet cape over him in imitation of the purple robe of an emperor, gave him a reed for a scepter, put a crown of thorns on his head, bowed before him in mockery, and taunted him as King of the Jews. Afterwards they led him out with his own cross on his shoulder. It was so heavy that a Cyrenian, Simon by name, had to be conscripted to carry it for him. Pilate had inscribed over his head on the cross: "This is Jesus the King of the Jews" (Matt. 27:37). Even in mockery, Jesus' claim was honored and the truth told.

According to Matthew, of all Jesus' followers, only three women accompanied Jesus to the cross, and Matthew does not include among them Jesus' own mother. The evangelist specifies that Jesus was led out to the place of the skull for his execution. Evidently it was a hill resembling a human skull. It was unclean because it was the place of executions. The sign Pilate put on the cross was the charge made against Jesus, the one charge Jesus admitted to. He was being executed simply because he had said that he was the King of the Jews. The Romans always attached the crime for which criminals were executed to the cross on which they were nailed.

Jesus was executed between two thieves. Here again the Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled. "He was numbered with the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12). They gave Jesus vinegar to drink mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink. "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Psalm 69:21). The soldiers gambled for his clothing. This was the custom in that day, for soldiers were given the personal effects of the criminals they executed. "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Psalm 22:18). The crowds around the cross taunted Jesus, saying, "You claim to be able to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. If you can do that, you ought to be able to save yourself now. If you really are the Son of God, you can come down from your cross. Do it! Prove it to us!" The chief priests, scribes, and elders joined the others in reviling Jesus. "Let's see if God will help him. He claimed to be God's son. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from his cross, and we will believe him.'' The thieves, the two persons crucified with Jesus, also joined in mocking him. "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him" (Psalm 22:7-8).

This went on until Jesus in desperation cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). The people about the cross thought he called to Elijah for help, and they said, "We will see whether Elijah will come to save him.'' Jesus' words are the opening verse of Psalm 22. If not aloud, at least in his heart he said the rest: "For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard" (Psalm 22:24).

For three hours before Jesus' death, there had been darkness over the land. This often happens when a storm sweeps up from the desert to the east of Jerusalem. It carries dust and sand in its wake. Before the first Passover in Egypt, when God slew the firstborn of the Egyptians, there had been darkness in the land for three days (Exod. 10:22). Amos, too, had prophesied: "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day" (Amos 8:9). That is what happened. It was dark on the day of crucifixion from noon until three in the afternoon, when Jesus died.

Just after Jesus' death, Matthew relates that an earthquake occurred. The quake opened graves and the saints of Israel's past awoke from their sleep, and, after the Resurrection, walked the streets of Jerusalem and were seen by many people. The veil of the Temple was rent in two and the Holy of holies was exposed. The Roman centurion and his guards saw all this and were afraid. They said: "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54). This "regicide," committed by the people of Jerusalem, was the beginning of the new kingdom of the Gentiles.

Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man who was a follower of Jesus, got permission from Pilate to remove Jesus' lifeless body from the cross. He deposited it in his own newly hewn tomb, and two women sat opposite the site as a stone was rolled to close its entrance. The Jews set their own guards to watch the tomb and to seal its entrance. All this was done before sunset, which was the beginning of the sabbath day. Jesus had been tried, condemned, crucified, and buried all within the span of a single day.

 

5. Glorification (Matt. 28:1-20) Matthew adds several details in his account of the Resurrection which are not found in Mark's Gospel. The women who sat opposite the tomb know the exact site of the place where he was laid. Matthew mentions but two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and John, whom he calls the other Mary. He tells us that there was a great earthquake, in the midst of which an angel descended from heaven and rolled back the stone. Evidently the earthquake broke loose the seal by which the Jews had secured the stone against the entrance to the tomb. Stones used to close the entrances to the tombs of the rich in Jesus' day were big round slabs in the shape of wheels. They were set in channels, also hewn out of stone, and could, with great effort, be rolled back and forth to open and close the entrances. The stone to the entrance of Jesus' tomb had been sealed permanently by the Jews (Matt. 27:66). The earthquake and the descent of the angel had taken place before the women undertook their journey to the tomb.

Before the women arrive, the guards whom the Jews had set on watch before the tomb have all gone. They were on duty when the earthquake shook the tomb and when the angel descended from heaven. They actually witnessed what to them was a dread event. The angel's appearance was like lightning, and his raiment was as white as snow. They were so frightened by what they saw that they could not move. They either fainted or else were paralyzed by fear. This was before daybreak.

When the women arrive, the angel is sitting on the stone he has rolled back from the entrance, and the tomb is wide open. The Matthean details which are not in Mark include the earthquake, the descent of the angel, the terror and paralysis of the guards -- the preparation in advance, so to speak, for the coming of the women. Mark leaves all this out of his account, where the women are surprised to find the tomb open and venture inside before they receive news about Jesus.

In Matthew the angel dispels the fear of the two women by telling them he knows whom they are seeking and that Jesus is not here but has risen from the dead. The angel invites them to come into the tomb and see where it was that Jesus had been laid at his burial. Evidently they had not gone into the tomb with Joseph of Arimathea when Jesus' body had been carried there from the cross.

The angel commissions the women to tell the disciples what has happened and to instruct them to return to Galilee in order to meet Jesus there. The women run to bring the good news to the disciples. Jesus stops the women on the way. When they recognize him, they fall at his feet and worship him. Jesus affirms the directive of the angel that they are to tell the brethren that he will see them in Galilee.

At this point in his account Matthew returns to the guards at the tomb. They have recovered from their shock, regained the use of their limbs, and have reported to the chief priests in Jerusalem what has happened. The leaders of Israel bribe the guards to lie and to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus in the night while the guards slept. The Jews promised the guards that if the governor heard about the incident, they would be protected.

The eleven disciples journeyed to Galilee and met Jesus on a mountain. Matthew indicates that was the designated meeting place. No place is mentioned in the instructions given the women, but this mountain was the customary meeting place for Jesus and his disciples during the Galilean ministry. When they saw Jesus, they worshiped him, though Matthew admits that some doubted. This is a serious admission and is evidence of the reliability of the Gospel. The evangelist includes everything, the bad as well as the good, skepticism along with belief, doubt just as much as faith. 

The Gospel concludes with the great commission. Jesus assures his disciples that he has all power both in heaven and on earth. In his strength, then, they are to go over the world winning converts, teaching these new followers even as he taught them, baptizing them in his name and in the name of God and the Holy Spirit, and promising them that he will be with them always to the end of the world.

The great commission is the climax of Matthew's Gospel. It is the culmination of its theme. Jesus of Nazareth was born to be king and was recognized as a king by the Wise Men who came to worship him in Bethlehem. Finally, after being rejected and killed by his own people, Jesus is vindicated and affirmed by God through his resurrection from the dead. He is proclaimed by the disciples as king of the whole world. The church they establish in Jesus' name will be the new Israel, and those they baptize will constitute its members, citizens of a universal kingdom that is coterminous with the whole world. This kingdom as represented by the church is a temporal institution, but it extends beyond time and beyond existence. Christ's is an everlasting kingdom. All power is given him in heaven as well as on earth. The head of the church is the king of glory.

  

Personal Reflection

 1.The disciples were concerned about the wasteful-ness of the woman who anointed Jesus. Do some of the actions called for by your faith seem wasteful or irrational to you? Does your rationality ever hinder you in experiencing or participating in the mystical part of faith?

2. "Jesus' family was his disciples." Is your faith community your family? Why is it necessary for the faith community to fill the roles of family?

3. Jesus admitted his dread and fright in the face of doing God's will. Is it as easy for you to express those emotions about your faith as it is to talk about the comfort and strength and other more acceptable responses?

4. Jesus felt forsaken by God. Have you ever felt that way? When?

5. Matthew includes accounts of doubters and doubting in his Gospel. How is doubting a valuable part of faith? How can we help people explore their doubts more openly in church?

 

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