- CHRISTOLOGY – Christ’s message and mission
In the centre of Christ’s message and mission is the reign and Kingdom of God,
immediate conversion and that this message and mission is the greatest and freely offered
gift of God’s Grace to His chosen people. Jesus’ mission is one of restoration because
man’s dignity had been disfigured by the first sin. The main purpose of His ministry was
to reconcile man to God.
- Christ’s teaching on the reign of God shows that God is the centre of His thought. The
reign of God signifies the end of Satan’s dominion. The reign and Kingdom of God is
present in many parables, confirming that the Kingdom of God is the action and gift of
God alone who will bring it about despite all obstacles. (Mk 4: 26 – 32; Mt 13: 33). There
is a contrast in the way John the Baptist and Jesus look at the Kingdom of God. John
stressed on the judgement of God and so there was an underlying concept of fear, while
Jesus emphasised the loving kindness and mercy of God towards sinners – His
proclamation is one of hope and joy.
- Jesus regarded the essentially futuristic reign of God as already present through His
coming and as particularly manifest in His exorcisms and miracles. He preached the
saving message of the Kingly rule of God calling man to repentance and conversion and
at the same time showing that God is a loving and ever merciful Father who rejoices
when the lost sheep is found and brought back to the fold.
- The miracles of Jesus Christ have an important eschatological dimension and are a
credible sign of His eschatological authority; they are a proof of His divine mission and
authority. Jesus worked miracles in His own name while the prophets of the Old
Testament worked miracles in the name of God.
- From the post-exilic period onwards, Israel expected God to inaugurate His reign with a
day of Judgement when all nations would be destroyed and Israel, as the chosen people of
God, enters into the Kingdom of God. But this self-confidence was opposed by John the
Baptist (Mt 3: 7) while Jesus threatened that the Kingdom would be taken from the Jews
and given to others (Mk 12: 9; Mt 8: 11).
- The call for conversion was created by the proximity of the reign of God; Christ’s
emphasis on moral sincerity rather than the strict observance of religious ritual, especially
His attitude to the Law provoked the hostility of the Jews because they regarded it as an
attack on God. Christ went against Jewish customs because He associated and ate at the
same table not only with His disciples but also with sinners and those regarded by Jews as
sinners (tax-collector, etc) while He sought out the poor, the marginalised, the prostitutes,
the sick and the lepers. So, for the observant Jew, Jesus Christ was in a constant state of
impurity; besides, a meal in Jesus’ time was a religious act expressing friendship. His
message was one of joy and anticipated the eschatological banquet. He was “a sign of
contradiction” (Simon to Mary at Jesus’ presentation in the Temple).
- Among the precepts made more radical are the prohibition of divorce (Lk 16: 18);
honouring one’s father and mother under all circumstances (Mk 7: 10 – 13); the absolute
commandment of loving one’s enemies (Sermon on the Mount) and Jesus’ disputing of
the Sabbath (Mk 2: 23; 3: 6).
Christ spoke to the crowds and to His disciples in parables. It was His favourite way to
explain to them the Good News of the Kingdom. Parables were also used in Rabbinic
literature by the Rabbis. In His parables Jesus used the leaven and dough, the mustard
seed, the sheep, the fishing-net, etc. The Kingdom is present like the presence of yeast in
the dough; it is also likened to the smallest of seeds, the mustard seed that grows to
become a tree to give shelter to birds. The Kingdom is present and active even though it
is not easily visible.
- Christ regarded Israel as the chosen people of God. Consequently, the Son of God
limited His work to Israel. Unlike John the Baptist who lived in the desert, Jesus sought
public places to convey to all Israelites His message and did never divide the good from
the sinners because for Christ, Israel is a scattered flock without a shepherd (Mt 9: 36; 10:
6); God’s goodness does not exclude sinners and outcasts (Lk 15). Jesus wished to
manifest God’s justice and mercy for all men are sinners before God.
- Christ extended the conception of salvation also to the pagans. He excluded the idea of
revenge from His teaching and He also healed pagans (Mt 8: 11; Mk 7: 24 – 30). This
would not imply a mission to the pagans, but would express their eschatological
participation in salvation.
- The whole public mission of Jesus Christ is characterised by the fact that He was a man
for others, as manifested by His washing of the disciples’ feet – a humiliating and
degrading act reserved for slaves, while urging the disciples to imitate His life-style of
love and service by the transformation of one’s behaviour.
- In His teachings, Christ offered the Kingdom of God to all Israelites and promised pardon
and eternal life in Heaven to the most hardened sinners provided they repented sincerely,
besides stressing the infinite love of God for the humble and the weak. The essence of
these teachings is found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5: 3 – 12) and in the Lord’s
Prayer (Mt 6: 9 – 13).
- But the most important moment in Christ’s public Ministry was Simon Peter’s great
confession of faith in Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt 16: 16;
Mk 8: 29; Lk 9: 20), for according to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus had not previously
revealed this to Peter or to the other disciples.