The following review and reflection is for a book that was required reading for a college class. If you can find the book affordably (now listed used for $500.00 on Amazon here) I would purchase it.
Beginning in the Garden with the disobedience of Adam, humanity is seen in a denigrating state of sinfulness; separated from the presence of God. However, with the same unfolding saga of sin, scripture reveals a redemptive narrative whose aim is the restoration of divine presence in the lives of humanity once again. Scripture reveals this with the advent of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, which is founded upon the covenantal relationship forged with Abraham, the friend of God. Even after the exile of Israel in later years which marked the withdrawal of God’s presence from His people and His temple, Biblical narrative still draws heavily upon the coming day in which “the renewal of his presence would signify the time of redemption” (Charette, 2000, p. 17). Following on the redemptive promises of Old Testament prophets, the book of Matthew lends itself to a strong focus of the active presence of God in relation to Jesus the Anointed One. This emphasis reveals the undercurrent of a restored presence that will pave the way for the work of restoration among alienated humanity that had been severed by sin.
Spirit and Messiah
The opening words of Matthew proclaiming the genesis of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham points immediately to the anticipated Messiah. In fact, “the messiahship of Jesus is emphasized more in Matthew than in the other synoptic Gospels” (Charette, 2000, p. 21). While Matthew is rich in Messianic expression, it must be noted that the reality of Jesus’ messiahship is directly contingent upon the enablement and empowerment of the Spirit. As Charette (2000) states, “[…] Christology cannot be separated from pneumatology” (pg. 22).
Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of God had always served as an authenticator of God’s chosen men. Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and multiple other figures were often seen under the power of God’s presence that equipped them to carry out their responsibilities. This concept was further revealed in the transition from Judges to Kings, and the ceremonial act of anointing with oil furthered the symbol of God’s presence in relation to appointment and service. Hinged upon the declaration of Matthew, that Jesus was the realization of both the Davidic Kingdom and the lineage of Abraham, the careful narrative of an anointed Messiahship was set in motion.
“Repent,” John declared, “for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:2, King James Version). To the Jews this was a proclamation of restoration; a return to central power and dominance in the world. With those words reverberating in the ears of John’s listeners, accompanied by the promise of one that would come baptizing with the Holy Ghost and fire, Jesus stepped onto the banks of the Jordan River and submitted himself to be baptized.
The dove that descends and the voice that heralds the beloved sonship of Christ, speak clearly to the anointed king (Ps. 2:7), and the anointed servant (Isa. 42:1). Before the eyes of the people, the Spirit of God formally anointed the ultimate King and thus revealed the eschatological figure of salvation. Following the temptation in the wilderness in which servanthood and sonship were tested, Jesus emerged and began to proclaim the kingdom of God in both word and deed, signaling a clear return of the Spirit of God that would push forward the agenda and purpose of restoration.
Spirit and Redemption
It is important to recognize that one thing which marks the appearance of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, along with the other Gospels, is the emphasis upon Jesus and the forgiveness of sins. One common concept of the Old Testament was that Israel was a people saved by God (Deut. 33:29), and thus, it remained true throughout the anointed kings of Israel, primarily the Davidic Kingdom. Continually, scripture reveals Yahweh delivering His people from much calamity, slavery, persecution, and captivity. In each case, for the most part, it is signaled by the undertone of God’s mercy towards a separated people that had rebelled against Him. Therefore, deliverance often carried the note of forgiveness that brought the return of His presence and process of restoration.
Matthew’s Gospel reveals this when Jesus, the anointed King, not only deals with sickness and disease, but also clearly indicates the power to forgive sins. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over chaos and void in Genesis and spoke forth restoration and creation, so also Jesus commands calm out of chaos and redemptive renewal over disordered humanity. Jesus is one that has the authority and power to make one whole again, both in body and spirit. In each instance of exorcism, healing, and miracle Jesus demonstrated a clear power of His creation.
However, the ultimate consummate victory of Christ over chaos in which the Spirit of God is released to produce true restoration is enacted on the cross. On the cross forgiveness is declared, covenant blood is shed, and the veil was rent signifying the dawning of a new day where humanity will be saved from their sins, and the Spirit of God will remain among His chosen people in the community of the church.
Spirit and Community
Just as Jesus embodied the essential qualities of God and the power to bring about restoration in the world, so now the church would become the unique body of believers that would continue that task. The church, whose genesis had been forged in the baptismal fire of the Holy Ghost, would be signaled by brotherhood, community, and, most importantly, the Spirit of God.
Just as Christ made disciples so also the charismatic community of the church was commanded to go and make disciples themselves. Embodied in the Great Commission was the mandate for the church to become an expression of God’s Spirit operating on earth, demonstrating authority, power, and restoration in humanity.
Matthew’s Gospel, when viewed through the lens of the Spirit and the act of restoration, opens up to reveal a more dynamic concept of God’s redemptive purpose. Truly, for Oneness Pentecostal believers, Blaine Charette’s (2000) scholarly work provides an even stronger foundation of teaching and belief. When viewing the Biblical narrative through the lens of the restoration of the presence of God in order for redemptive restoration to occur the results are staggering! The word of God provides a seamless and integrated narrative which was culminated in Christ and eventually fulfilled through the active cooperation of Christ and the Church until the end of the eschatological age. Matthew’s Gospel does indeed provide an in-depth look into the operation the Spirit of God in Jesus, the ultimate Davidic King. Every miracle, word, and action of Christ carry’s the weight of Divine Presence and thus, a clear sign, that redemptive restoration has indeed begun.