New Testament

Gospels and Acts of the Apostles

How did Jesus’ disciples interpret Jesus’ ministry?

Knowing Old Testament scripture, Jesus’ followers expected a messiah. They believed Jesus was the messiah. However, they thought Jesus meant to establish a kingdom on earth, a powerful kingdom in the style of King David. They did not understand until after his resurrection that Jesus’ kingdom was a spiritual one in heaven. The book of John describes it this way: “When the people saw the sign that he had done [feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish], they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is come into the world.’ When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (NRSV, John 6:14–15)

Some people chose to follow Jesus, and other people chose not to follow Jesus. Rifts were inevitable. Jesus did not advocate violence. But he recognized that it was an outcome of people’s selfish, wicked choices.


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