glory was not clothed like one ofthese. But ifGod so clothes the grass ofthe field, which is alive today and tomorrow thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? (Matt 6:25-34)
He spoke of God as Father and encouraged the kind of trust a child has in its parents.
It seems that Jesus shared his contemporaries' views on the importance of temple and Torah, while offering a critique of the way in which both were honoured in current practice. Like other rabbis, Jesus summed up the Torah in two commandments: to love God and to love the neighbour. He implied that God's kingdom, shortly to be consummated on earth, was already present when his people were properly obedient; and this obedience meant a deepening of the Torah, a focus on interiority rather than on externals.87 In calling Israel back to obedience, Jesus resembled the prophets, appealing for justice, mercy and love, and perhaps implying the 'new covenant' predicted by Jeremiah when the Law would be written on the heart. Indeed there are many ways in which Jesus is like the prophets of the Jewish scriptures, calling the people to a restoration of Israel as it was meant to be. The visionary and eschatological character of that restoration is betrayed by the symbolic choice of twelve disciples, representatives of the original twelve tribes, regardless of the fact that ten had been lost many centuries before. The New Testament repeatedly reflects on the fact that prophets are unwelcome among their own people. Jesus certainly provoked opposition.
John the Baptist marks the genesis of Jesus' activity. Both appear to have heralded the imminent arrival of God's final denouement, thus presupposing the kind of cosmic panorama delineated in apocalyptic literature. Both called for repentance and renewal, though the Baptist's message of judgement would seem the harsher. Despite overlap, some contrast developed between the two, John living as an ascetic, Jesus accused of being ' a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax gatherers and sinners!' (Matt 11:18-19). John met with a violent end at the hands of Herod Antipas. Maybe this explains why the gospels are silent about Jesus visiting Herod's cities, Sepphoris and Tiberias - they were deliberately avoided.88 This precedent also makes it not entirely implausible that Jesus predicted his own suffering and death, as the gospels indeed report. If so, the question arises whether he attempted to provide any explanation for his disciples. He may have seen himself in a line of prophets who, like Jeremiah, had suffered rejection (Matt 23:29-39 / Luke 13:33-5; cf. 1 Thess 2:15); and maybe
87 Vermes, The religion of Jesus the Jew.
88 Reed, Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus.
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