Jesus’ ministry was reminiscent of Israel. However, where she failed, He was faithful and ushered in a new covenant. This all happened against a backdrop of oppression by the Romans on Israel. Amid this foreign occupation, several factions arose in Israel to resist and respond to the enemy. But Jesus’ ministry had a purpose that distinguishes it from among these factions.
Jesus began His ministry at the ford of the Jordan, as John was baptizing there. He had a similar proclamation of repentance and belief in the gospel. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. He backed up His message with sign miracles that showed the new age has already come, but His popularity caused the Pharisees to resent Him. The message that Jesus brought was one of repentance and grace. This was in contrast to the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. His kingdom was one that was governed by love and service as opposed to lording over others. However, Jesus’ disciples and the crowds did not fully understand His role in God’s plan of redemption.
In the last week of His ministry, Jesus challenges the Jerusalem authorities to recognize the arrival of His kingdom, but they rejected and killed Him instead. Before He died, Jesus instituted a way to remember the new covenant in His blood. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, His message was spread by His disciples. Jesus had opened their eyes to discover that the Old Testament had a message for the entire world. Its central purpose was to promise the Messiah. Even the Old Testament law and temple rituals were temporary means that pointed to Jesus Christ and were fulfilled by Him.
It was not until the Pentecost event that the Christian church grew exponentially. Peter’s preaching was used by the Lord to add three thousand followers to Jesus. The rapid growth eventually resulted in the inclusion of the Gentiles. It was Paul who theologically clarified that this group of believers need not submit to the Jewish law. Paul was instrumental in bringing more Gentiles into the church. This eventually led to the decline of the role of the Jerusalem church and the character of Christianity moved from Jewish to Gentile.
Dn. Mervin Lin