The Four Faces of Jesus: Four Portraits, One Man (Part 5) (4-9-17)

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In this modern era ruled by technology, the use of emoticons has become a unique way of expressing an emotion, attitude, or reaction to a message in a digital way. Although this intricate invention has intertwined art and communication in an intriguing way, it is not the first time man has used this concept since, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This popular English idiom refers to the ability of a picture in revealing more about a person or a story than words are able to. Artist are often asked to make an attempt to depict a person’s entire personality with the use of their paintbrush. If the portrait shows a person smiling, then we are able to interpret the person as happy; if it shows them frowning, then we make the connection to seriousness or sorrow. Observe that it may be the same person being drawn by the artist, but each portrait gives a different aspect of who that person is. In a fascinating way, each portrait illustrates a different side to a person’s true identity. Needless to say that anyone who is able to successfully accomplish with words what a picture is suppose to do better, is mesmerizing. This amazing feat was reached by the Cosmic Scribes (as previously coined by this author) in their description of God’s Chosen One. However, it is prudent to understand that the description provided by the inspired writers is not pertaining to Jesus’ physical demeanor. Rather, what the four Gospel scribes fulfill with their inspired books is to confirm that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, each one from a different perspective. Recalling our previous writ, this is how all four of them harmoniously played the same melody using different instruments. Together, all four inspired men wrote concerning Jesus being the Messiah; independently, each writer focused on a different aspect of how He brought to completion the Messianic prophecies. It is to be stated that each Gospel account illuminates a different prophesied characteristic brought to fruition by the Master. Although Matthew is the first book we encounter in the order that the books of the New Testament were placed today, biblical scholars believe it was not the first of the four to be written. It has been agreed by several Bible scholars and historians that the most accurate chronological order of the four Gospel books begins with the book of Mark. Since this fact has been widely accepted as true, it consequently unveils an ulterior motive by the ancient scholars who placed Matthew at the beginning of the New Testament. One of several reasons for the complexity of this enigma has to do with the fact that none of the four books are a true biography. Traditionally, a biography follows a chronological order of events in the life of the person who’s story is being told. Neither of the four Gospel books follow this format. Instead, as it has been revealed several times before, the Gospel writers’ focus was the theological aspect of Jesus’ life and how to best explain this profound concept to their individual, specific audience. Understanding this, the ancient scholars attempted to follow the writers’ original intent by placing these four books in the order that they were placed. The idea of beginning the order with Matthew’s book mirrors Paul’s understanding that “the Gospel of Christ…it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul’s statement of “for the Jew first” must not be interpreted as the apostle boasting pridefully in his nation. Rather, the inspired apostle is unraveling the mystery of Isaiah’s prophetic words “for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3c). Prior to these words, the prophet wrote, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains…and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:2). This ecclesiastic prophecy (because it pertains to the Lord’s Church) was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-47). This is also what the Master tried to explain to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob when He revealed to her “for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). It must be understood that Jesus is not stating that salvation belonged to the Jews, but that salvation would come from them. Both, Paul and Jesus, are confirming that Isaiah’s prophecy was making manifest that the Messiah would be a descendant of Judah, thus revealing that His kingdom would physically originate in Jerusalem. Since Matthew’s focus was on convincing the Jews living in Jerusalem that Jesus is the Messiah, it is very probable that this was the reason why the scholars of old determined it was best to place his book at the beginning of the New Testament. This choice enlightens their earnest attempt to avoid deviating from what the Gospel writers set as their priority. The reality that the ancient scholars were able to use the different ways of how Christ accomplished the Messianic prophecies to assist them in this task illuminates the wisdom behind the cosmic scribes understanding of how to best tell Jesus’ story. This also demonstrates how the Master’s command for them to be “witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” was fully obeyed by all of them (Acts 1:8). It is wise to notice that in this direct commandment to His apostles, the starting point set by Him is, once more, Jerusalem; thus adding further strength to the significance of the current order of the Gospel books. Although it is true that Matthew’s account is very similar to that of Mark’s and Luke’s (known collectively as the Synoptic Gospels), it distinguishes itself by His heavy quoting of Old Testament passages. Matthew also is unique in consistently referring or alluding to Jesus as the Son of David. Let us also recall that Matthew’s book is the one who speaks of the Lord’s legal genealogy, but this list has Abraham as the starting point. Indubitably, his vision of how to present the Lord begins to manifest in these careful selections made by this inspired writer. Meditating upon this, it becomes evident that Matthew’s portrayal of the Messiah is as the herald entering in the towns and blowing his trumpet, announcing the arrival of his King. To be continued…

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