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Who Do You Say That I Am? Part 4

IV. In the Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict points out that the Old Testament primarily presents the figure of the Messiah as a king and ruler – a new David. But Deuteronomy gives us something different: the Messiah as prophet and teacher – a new Moses. This kind of prophecy is not about “tearing away the curtain” and lifting the veil to see into the future. Indeed, this kind of divination and fortune-telling is specifically condemned in Israel. Rather, Scriptural prophecy recalls and communicates the Word of God. This is seen in the fact that all the prophetic oracles begin with the statement: “Thus says the Lord: …”

Moses promises in Deuteromony: “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen” (Dt 18:15). Yet Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses and notes: “Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Dt 34:10). While Israel had many kings and generals and commanders, the true prophet-like-Moses was still awaited, one who conversed with God face to face as Moses had, and would communicate God’s Word firsthand.

All this sets the stage for understanding Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. He is the Son of God who from all eternity knows the Father “face to face,” living in the most perfect unity. This is the source of the “authority” of Jesus’ teaching, as even his enemies acknowledged: Jesus is not somehow channeling a divine voice, he is that very Voice. He is not repeating words he learned; he is that Word. Therefore: “the disciple who walks with Jesus is thus caught up with him into communion with God. And that is what redemption means: this stepping beyond the limits of human nature.”

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