Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” They give a few of the popular options: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some other OT prophet.
Now, the fact that the Jews of Jesus’ day saw continuity with those prophets is striking, and we should pause for a moment to reflect on why they made this connection. The prophets mentioned proclaimed a coming judgment on Israel. They beckoned Israel to repent and be reconciled unto God, otherwise the covenant curses would come.
The modern American caricature of Jesus makes one think of Jesus as a pony-tailed hippy, tossing frisbee like a youth pastor, spreading a message of “love and tolerance.” But this isn’t the picture you actually get from reading the Gospels, nor is it the sense that 1st century Jews got. The sense they got was that Jesus was an OT prophet, tearfully calling them to repent of their idolatry, worldliness, injustice, and compromised worship and return to worship, serve, and obey the one, true and only God.
But while Jesus’ preaching echoed Jeremiah’s warnings of destruction and exile, thus causing the confusion, He presses His disciples to answer who they say He was. Peter’s answer is, of course, the bedrock answer for our faith, “Jesus is the Christ.”
Jesus calls us today to see in Him the fulfillment of all those OT prophets. He is the promised Christ, come to bring judgement on idolaters, but offer mercy to the repentant. This meal is a fellowship meal with Him. He speaks to us here that our sin has been judged––in His own body on the tree; and we are no longer slaves or exiles, but adopted sons and daughters of the King of Israel, and thus, we are more than welcome to come feast at his board.
So come in faith, and welcome to Jesus…