“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Matthew 17:1-8: Bringing Together Glory and the Cross, pt. 1

4. Synthesis of the Text: Bringing Together Glory and the Cross

It may be difficult to imagine that all of these connections and allusions were intended by Matthew, but, considering the importance of these Old Testament texts in Jewish thought, this is not so improbable. The event of the transfiguration presented a fruitful array of potential Old Testament connections, and Matthew takes full advantage of this as he writes to his Jewish audience.

In details throughout the text, Matthew alludes to Old Testament passages, drawing from various events and personages throughout the history of redemption. In doing this, it seems he is forming a wider picture of salvation history, which progresses with continuity and will ultimately be completed as a united whole. Jesus is portrayed as the prophet like Moses, the “new Moses,” and, through John the Baptist, as the fulfillment of Elijah. The law and the prophets are fulfilled in Christ, and what was incomplete in Moses and Elijah is finalized in Christ; the presence of Moses and Elijah in their apparently supporting roles emphasizes Jesus’ superiority all the more. Messianic passages in Isaiah, Psalms, and Daniel are also alluded to, bringing Jesus to the forefront as the long-foretold Christ. Davies and Allison write that “the reader is to infer that history has come full circle, that the eschatological expectations of Judaism have begun to find their fulfillment…Israel’s primal history is being recapitulated by her Messiah, God’s Son, the eschatological embodiment of true Israel” (Davies and Allison 705). Matthew focuses this history on the person of Jesus Christ and his present glory and, in alluding to these various Old Testament passages, heightens the impression of Christ’s supremacy and glory. At the same time, Matthew looks ahead in the history of redemption to both Christ’s death and resurrection, the climax of the story...

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