The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology

"XVIII. Basic Teachings"


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Besides the teaching on Himself just mentioned, Jesus also taught very basic things, especially that He was sent to establish the kingdom of God. (We explained above, in XVI, the meaning of that phrase, and saw that often, not always, it means the Church in this world and/or the next). He surely did promise to found a Church, giving the keys to Peter in Mt 16. 18-19. Two fine Protestant scholars, W. F. Albright (spoken of in his own day as the "Dean of American Scripture scholars") and C. S. Mann, in their commentary on the passage in Anchor Bible take the same view of it as we have done. In our summary of apologetics in our section V above, we saw how to establish that fact firmly. In addition, He very explicitly established Baptism as the means of entrance into the Church and forgiveness of sins (Mt. 28. 18-20. He promised the Eucharist in John 6, and gave the it at the Last Supper. And by telling the Apostles: "Do this in memory of me He made them priests (DS 1752). He established the Sacrament of Penance in John 20. 22 (defined in DS 1703). We know that He also established the other Sacraments too: DS 1601. He gave the Apostles the commission to teach in His name, as we saw in section V, and promise God's protection for that teaching esp. in Lk 10. 16. He likewise gave them the power to give commands in His name, to bind and to loose.

He also taught that He came to give His life as a ransom for many (the "many" reflects Hebrew rabbim and so means all), to redeem the world, e. g, Mt. 20. 28; Mk 10. 45. As we saw in section VIII He was aware of His future suffering and mission from the first instant of His conception. As Pius XII taught in the Encyclical on the Mystical Body (DS 3812) He knew and loved each member of His Mystical Body from the first instant of His conception, thanks the vision of God which His human soul had from the beginning.

He offered the sacrifice of His life at the Last Supper. The outward sign then was the seeming separation of His body and blood, followed on the next day by the actual separation of Body and Blood. This outward sign expressed the interior disposition of obedience to the Father: cf. Rom 5. 19 and LG 3. He was the priest of this sacrifice. He Himself did not use that word of Himself, but the Church later, guided by the Holy Spirit, saw it, and expressed it at length in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

He declared His absolute power as King of the Universe in Mt 28. 18-19: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth." Thus Romans 1. 4 says He was constituted "Son-of-God-in-power" at His resurrection. As God He always had all power; as man, He had emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave: Phil 2. 7.

His resurrection and ascension were the glorification of which St. Paul speaks in Phil 2. 9-11: "For this reason God also exalted Him and gave to Him the name that is above very name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, for the glory of God the Father."

His resurrection and ascension were not the same event, as some today like to claim. If so, all the appearances to the Apostles and others before the ascension would be false.

"Dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life." By His resurrection He taught both the fact and the mode of our resurrection, as St. Paul insists in 1 Cor 15. 13-23, since He is the first-fruits, and He is the Head of the Mystical Body of which we are members.

By His appearances after the resurrection, He taught what our resurrection is to be like. We are saved and made holy if and to the extent we are members of Christ and like Him. The more we are like Him in suffering and death, the more like Him in glory. He took pains to teach us two facts about the risen body. On the one hand, it was real flesh: He allowed them to touch Him, and He even ate with them, though He needed no food (Rom 8. 21 explains that at the end we will be freed from slavery to corruption). He also taught that the risen body is completely dominated by the spirit, the soul, so that He could come in to the Apostles in spite of the locked door. He did not even open it by a miracle, just ignored it. So St. Paul speaks of the risen bodies as "spiritual (1 Cor 15. 44) not meaning they are not flesh, but flesh totally subject of the spirit, as His was and is.