Matthew’s Good News
A Jewish writer named Matthew is announcing that God has sent someone to tell us what fulfillment is,
and to show us how to get there.
According to Matthew, who used to work in a tax office, a man named Jesus, of the Jewish village of Nazareth, has come to fulfill all the promises God made to the Jews throughout their history.
More than that, Matthew claims Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the whole human race, including those inherent and implicit in human nature itself.
We all experience our existence as a promise. To live is to desire. To desire is to know already in our hearts that satisfaction is possible. Everyone alive is seeking.
The first humans were gatherers. They sought and found nuts and berries to satisfy their hunger for food. Then they became hunters. They sought and found animals to eat. Their appetites assured them that what they needed and wanted existed. They just had to find it.
They also felt a need to understand, to find intelligibility in life. They made un-educated guesses—but guesses with reason behind them—about the origin of the world. Its existence did not explain itself. They knew an explanation existed.
They perceived design in the movement of the planets, in the cycle of the seasons; in the structure of the plants, the animals, and of their own bodies. They recognized intentionality. Their need, their desire for intelligibility assured them that something, someone who thought like themselves, made the universe to be like it is, and intended it should be so. So they sought and found partial answers, distorted answers. But they knew the answers were out there. They just had to find them.
Still today, the desires that are deep within us, inherent in our nature, are a promise. Nothing makes us perfectly happy. Our desire tells us perfect happiness exists. Nothing fulfills us completely. Our desire tells us total fulfillment exists.
Matthew claims that all we desire can be—and can only be—found in Jesus of Nazareth.
Matthew doesn’t take a philosophical approach. He writes for those familiar with the Jewish Scriptures and the promises God made in them, especially the promise to send a “Messiah,” a deliverer “anointed” as prophet, priest and king to realize “the Israel of the future as identical with the universal kingdom of Yahweh” (see “Messiah,” in John L. McKenzie, S.J., Dictionary of the Bible). He claims Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises to Israel, and by extension, to the whole human race.
Without elaborating the common human experience of trial and error, hopes and disappointment, expectations and disillusionment, Matthew’s bottom line is, there is no way to be completely or securely happy on this earth except through personal relationship with Jesus Christ. People seek happiness through pleasure, wealth, prestige, success, moral behavior, contributions to society, learning, or love of one or more human beings; but they only find it—and it can be found—in the relationship of deep, personal, all-embracing love with Jesus Christ.
Can anyone prove that?
Abstractly, yes; but not in a way that would convince anyone. The only convincing proof is experience.
Matthew is supported by another Jewish writer, John, who in his Gospel (2:35) tells of two young men who were listening to John the Baptizer preach. The Baptizer was saying the Messiah was at hand. One day, as he was preaching, Jesus walked by. John pointed him out and said, “That’s him; that’s the Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world!”
The two men, not knowing how to respond, just started walking along behind Jesus. Jesus broke the ice; he turned and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
This, it so happens, is the question Jesus asks of every person on this earth, sooner or later: “What are you looking for? What do you want out of life?”
The men, not knowing how to answer, stammered out, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
Unknowingly, they answered Jesus’s question with another question that, consciously or not, is the deepest desire of every human heart: “Where does God dwell? Where can we find him?”
Jesus simply answered, “Come and see.”
That is what these reflections invite you to do. Come and see.
Begin by reading Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 1, versus 1 to 17. If you don’t find in them what I explained above, read my book Why Jesus?, chapters one and two. You can buy the book or download it free from the website www.ImmersedinChrist.org).
Question: Ask yourself: “What is my deepest conscious desire? Where am I looking for its fulfillment?”