Finally, God‘s silence ended. As Matthew open his Gospel, the Jews are now subjects of the Roman Empire. The are allowed freedom of worship and limited authority in overseeing their own affairs. But long for more. They read the prophecies of the Old Testament and watch unepectantly for the promised Messiah. The dream the day that Israel will once again be a powerful nation it was under King David. They worship under the guidance of the high priest , dispute religious matter in the high council, struggle to survive under Rome, and all the while await a coming Savior. Yet they expect a warrior, and not the baby lying in a manger that God’s angels announce.
And Jesus will never live up to their expectations. Both the main religious factions will disapprove of him. The Pharisees are the legalists of the day. They will devote themselves to the law of Moses and apply it strictly to everyday life. They believe in the supernatural, angels, and the resurrection. They take their religious traditions seriously, so the cannot accept Jesus’ disregard for their rules and his claim to forgive all sins. The Sadducees are the traditionalist of the day, They are skeptical toward religion. Although they believe in the literal interpretation of Moses’ law, they do not allow it to have much impact on their everyday lives. They deny the supernatural and the resurrection; they focus on temporal, political concerns. They see Jesus primarily as a threat, a rabble-rouser who might catch the attention of Rome and thus imperil the nation.
In the end, these factions come to agree on one point, at least-that Jesus must be killed. They work together in the high council to sentence him. They stir up the crowds and pressure Roman authorities to have Jesus crucified. They succeed. Yet in the end, it was God’s plan that ultimately succeeded. His suffering Servant lived and died as payment for sin, and he rose again as the hope of the world.
Looking back on the years between the Old and New Testament, it is clear that God brought about the perfect political and religious setting for the work of his Son. Instigated by the Jewish religious factions the Romans out Jesus to death. The power and highway system of Rome allowed the message of his resurrection to spread. And although the writing of the New Testament, the Greek language proclaimed the Gospel in a tongue nearly everyone could understand. As Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4 “When the right time came, God sent his Son.”