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The Profession of Faith

151

III.

J

esus and

I

srael

s

F

aith

in

the

O

ne

G

od and

S

avior

587

If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions

of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in

the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true

stumbling-block for them.

363

588

Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collec-

tors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.

364

Against those

among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous

and despised others,” Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the

righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

365

He went further by pro-

claiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who

pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.

366

589

Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merci­

ful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward

them.

367

He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners

he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.

368

But it was most

especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authori­

ties of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to

demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God

alone?”

369

By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man

who made himself God’s equal or is speaking the truth, and his

person really does make present and reveal God’s name.

370

590

Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so

absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his

saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah, . . .

greater than Solomon,” something “greater than the Temple”; his

reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord,

371

and his

affirmations, “Before Abraham was,

I Am

”; and even “I and the

Father are one.”

372

363 Cf.

Lk

2:34; 20:17-18;

Ps

118:22.

364 Cf.

Lk

5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

365

Lk

18:9; 5:32; cf.

Jn

7:49; 9:34.

366 Cf.

Jn

8:33-36; 9:40-41.

367 Cf.

Mt

9:13;

Hos

6:6.

368 Cf.

Lk

15:1-2, 22-32.

369

Mk

2:7.

370 Cf.

Jn

5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26.

371 Cf.

Mt

12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42.

372

Jn

8:58; 10:30.

545

431, 1441

432

253