Jesus, the True and Greater…

You can’t read Matthew 12 without noticing that something’s going on with Jesus and the Old Testament. Three times, in short order, he says he’s greater than a central OT person or institution.

12:6, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.”

12:41: “behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

12:42: “behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

He also implied that he was greater than David and called himself “Lord of the Sabbath” (12:1-7). What’s going on here? R. T. France, in Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher:

The Old Testament ‘models’ selected add up to a remarkable overview of the main channels through which God’s authority was formerly exercised among his people –

David, the greatest king (and model of messianic expectation), the temple and it’s priesthood, Jonah as a representative prophet, and Solomon the wise man (and also, hardly insignificantly, the king, the son of David).

To have claimed that in Jesus all these lines of authority came together and found their contemporary manifestation would have been bold enough. But he is ‘greater,’ ‘more’ than all of them… He does not envisage simply a repetition of the patterns of God’s work in the Old Testament, but a climactic ‘fulfillment’ of the pattern, ‘something greater’ (189-90).

Jesus is the true and greater prophet, priest, king, wise man, and place of God’s presence. And since these are the main channels of authority in God’s Story, seeing this should drive us to bow low before him.

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