3 The triune God

134 What was the focus of Jesus’ teaching?


The focal point of His teaching was the proclamation of the kingdom of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1: 15).

135 What is meant by the “kingdom of God”?


The “kingdom of God” is not a national territory, nor is it a political sphere of dominion. Rather the “kingdom of God” means that God is present and rules among mankind.

In the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the “kingdom of God” has come to all people (cf. Luke 17: 21). Jesus Christ is the ruler, He creates justice, He grants grace, He turns to the poor and needy, and He brings salvation.

“Kingdom of God” also has a future significance—it will begin with the “marriage of the Lamb” and endure eternally in the new creation (cf. Revelation 21: 1- 3).


Marriage of the Lamb: see Questions 566→ et seq. Kingdom of peace: see Questions 575→ et seq. New creation: see Question 581→ “Your kingdom come”: see Question 635→

The gospel of Matthew uses the term “kingdom of God” synonymously with “kingdom of heaven”.

The term “kingdom of God” is a designation for the presence and regency of God among mankind. It was already possible to experience this in the time of Jesus. Today too the “kingdom of God” is present and perceptible in the church of Christ, in which Jesus Christ is at work—in other words, in word and sacrament.


On the other hand, we also await the future “kingdom of God”. This kingdom will be manifested in the “marriage of the Lamb”, in the kingdom of peace, and in the new creation.

136 What does it mean to “repent”?


“To repent” means to turn away from evil and turn to God. Those who repent are prepared to change their attitude in order to fulfil the will of God.

137 What does the term “gospel” mean?


“Gospel” means “glad tidings” or “good news”. It is the message of the grace, love, and reconciliation that God grants us in Jesus Christ.

138 What is Jesus’ position on the Law of Moses?


The Mosaic Law was of the highest binding authority for the people of Israel. Its fulfilment was considered a prerequisite for the proper relationship between human beings and God. Jesus made it clear that He possessed greater authority than Moses, and that He was Lord over the Law. He summarised the Law into the single commandment to love God above all things, and one’s neighbour as oneself (cf. Matthew 22: 37-40).

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.” Matthew 5: 17

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Deuteronomy 6: 5). This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19 18). On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 37-40

139 What was one of the first things Jesus did at the beginning of His teaching activity?


Jesus called disciples (cf. Mark 1: 16 et seq.). From among them he appointed twelve, “that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (cf. Mark 3: 14).

Disciples of Jesus are those who follow the gospel in word and deed.

140 What miracles did Jesus perform?


The miracles performed by the Son of God are of various kinds and include healing of the sick, casting out evil spirits, raising the dead, miracles of nature, miracles of feeding, and gift miracles.

141 Why did Jesus perform miracles?


Jesus performed miracles in order to demonstrate the Almighty and Loving God’s merciful devotion to suffering mankind in Him. These miracles reveal the glory of the Son of God and His divine authority.

142 What healings of the sick do the gospels relate?


The gospels relate that Jesus healed blind, lame, deaf, and leprous people. These healings point to the divine nature of Jesus Christ, who acted as God when He spoke to the people of Israel: “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15: 26). These miracles of healing were always closely linked to the faith of the affected individuals (cf. e.g. Luke 18: 35-43).

143 What is related about Jesus casting out evil spirits?


The gospels relate that Jesus cast out demons— which according to the understanding of the time were also the cause of various sicknesses—and so healed people. Jesus Christ was even recognised as Lord by the demons (cf. Mark 3: 11).

The New Testament describes ‘demons’ as evil spirits opposed to God, who according to the understanding of the ancient world, caused illness and sought to control human beings.

144 Of what miracles of raising the dead do the gospels relate?


The gospels describe three cases in which Jesus brought dead human beings back to life: the daughter of Jairus (cf. Matthew 9: 18-26), the young man of Nain (cf. Luke 7: 13-15), and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (cf. John 11: 1-44).

The miracles in which Jesus raises the dead make it clear that Jesus Christ is also Lord over death. At the same time they are a reference to the hope that the dead will one day resurrect to eternal life.

145 Of what miracles of nature do the gospels relate?


Jesus had power over the wind and the sea. They were “obedient” to Him (cf. Matthew 8: 27): when He ordered the storm to be still, the winds ceased and the waters became calm. Thereby Jesus showed His power over the elements. Jesus’ control over the forces of nature underline that the Son of God is just as much the Creator as God, the Father (cf. John 1: 1-3).

146 Of which miracles of feeding do the gospels relate?


All the gospels relate the miracle that Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish (cf. e.g. Mark 6: 30- 44). Beyond that, the gospels of Matthew and Mark tell of the feeding of the four thousand (cf. Matthew 15: 32-39 and Mark 8: 1-9).

These miracles are reminders that God provided food (manna) during the journey of the people of Israel through the desert. Furthermore, these events are a reference to Holy Communion.

147 Of what gift miracles do the gospels relate?


Jesus also performed miracles in which human beings received an abundance of earthly gifts. Examples of such gift miracles include Peter’s miraculous catch of fish. The latter had worked all night together with other fishermen, but had caught nothing. At Jesus’ word, the fishermen cast out their nets once again and made such a great catch of fish that the nets began to tear and the boats nearly sank (cf. Luke 5: 1-11).

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus turned water into wine (cf. John 2: 1-11). This too is a gift miracle and thus a sign of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

148 How did Jesus teach the people His doctrine?


Jesus preached to the people. His best known sermon is the “Sermon on the Mount”, which is recorded in the gospel of Matthew. The “beatitudes” are recorded at the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount”.

The beatitudes
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” Matthew 5: 3-11

149 What is meant by the “beatitudes” of Jesus?


The “beatitudes” from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are found in the gospel of Matthew. Here Jesus shows how one can share in the “kingdom of heaven”, which has become present in Him. He designates those people as “blessed” (happy) who live in the manner described there.


Kingdom of heaven: see Question 135→

150 How did Jesus make the gospel understandable?


In His sermons, Jesus often spoke in parables, which are figurative narratives. These stories are taken from the daily lives of His listeners so that they might better understand them. With these parables, Jesus illustrated the main content of the gospel.

More than 40 parables are recorded in the first three gospels.

“All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’.” Matthew 13: 34-35

151 What major statements of the gospel are illustrated in parables?


In these parables, Jesus illustrated major statements about the kingdom of God, the commandment to love one’s neighbour, the attitude of man’s heart, and the coming of the Son of Man.


Kingdom of God: see explanation of Question 135→ Son of Man: see Question 114→

152 How did Jesus explain the beginning and the growth of the kingdom of God?


Jesus explained this in the parable of the mustard seed. Thereby he showed the humble beginnings of the kingdom of God as well as its development and growth.

“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed [...] which indeed is the least of all the seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened’.” Matthew 13: 31-33

153 How did Jesus explain that something extremely valuable is offered in the kingdom of God?


The parable of the pearl of great price showcases those individuals who recognise the wealth hidden in Jesus Christ, accept it, and give up everything else just to have it. In another passage, Jesus underlines this with the admonition: “But seek first the kingdom of God...” (Matthew 6: 33).

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13: 44-46

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 33

154 How did Jesus explain the love that prevails in the kingdom of God?


With the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus showed that God strives to help all human beings, even those who seem to be lost. The parable of the prodigal son illustrates God’s love for the sinner.

“So He spoke this parable to them, saying: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance’.” Luke 15: 3-7

155 Which parable calls for us to love our neighbour?


The greatest of the commandments are to love God and our neighbour. With the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated who this neighbour is, and that loving our neighbour means that we must not close our eyes to the distress of others, but rather provide help.


The double commandment of love: see Questions 282→ et seq.

“Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you”’.” Luke 10: 30-35

156 What are the parables that relate to the attitude of man’s heart?


The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector illustrate that it is not those who laud themselves for that which they can do, that which they have, and that which they are, but rather those who come before God seeking grace in humbleness who will be justified.

The parable of the unmerciful servant calls upon those who have received God’s grace to likewise show grace to others. Those who recognise the magnitude of God’s love will feel the need to reconcile with their neighbour.

“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men— extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’.” Luke 18: 9-14

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe!” so his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.”And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses’.” Matthew 18: 21-35

157 What did Jesus reveal in the parables of the coming of the Son of Man?


In the parables of the coming of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ spoke of His return.

In Matthew 24: 37-39 a comparison is made between the time before Jesus’ return and the days of Noah. What is clear from this is that the return of Christ will be sudden and surprising.

This message is also imparted by the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (cf. Matthew 25: 1-13). From this we learn to watch and be prepared for the return of the Lord.

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in to marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24: 37-39

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you now neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25: 1-13

158 What images did Jesus use to describe Himself, and what do they mean?


The gospel of John contains statements by Jesus which can be described as “images”. Through them, Jesus clearly describes His nature. Seven such striking statements of Jesus begin with the words “I am”. In them He speaks of Himself metaphorically as the “bread of life” (John 6: 35), the “light of the world” (John 8: 12), the “door” to salvation (John 10: 9), the “good shepherd” (John 10: 11), and as the “vine” (John 15: 5). Beyond that, Jesus Christ describes Himself as the “resurrection” (John 11: 25), and as the “way”, the “truth”, and the “life” (John 14: 6).


All of this means that Jesus alone can grant access to God, the Father and that Jesus is the source of salvation.

159 Which of the disciples were especially close to Jesus?


The twelve Apostles were especially close to Jesus and He had a special relationship of trust with them:

  • When other disciples failed to understand Jesus and stopped following Him, the Apostles remained with Him (cf. John 6: 66-69).
  • Only the Apostles were with Him when He instituted Holy Communion (cf. Luke 22: 14 et seq.).
  • By washing their feet, Jesus gave the Apostles an example of humble service (cf. John 13: 4 et seq.).
  • It was to the Apostles that He addressed the farewell discourses recorded in John 13-16 before His death, and it was to them that He promised the Holy Spirit.
  • It was to the Apostles that He gave the promise of His return (cf. John 14: 3).
  • It was to the Apostles that He showed Himself repeatedly after His resurrection (cf. Acts 1: 2-3).
  • It was to the Apostles that He, prior to His ascension, gave the commandment: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 19, 20).

“To [them] He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1: 3

“[Jesus] rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [...] ‘For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you’.”
John 13: 4-5, 15

160 What marked the start of the sufferings of Jesus Christ?


The sufferings of Jesus began with His entry into Jerusalem: “Now when they drew near Jerusalem [...] He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them ‘Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord has need of it.”’ [...] Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Mark 11: 1-9). – Despite all this rejoicing, Jesus Christ knew that the mood of the people would soon change and that He would have to follow the way of the cross.

The sufferings of Christ are often described with the word ‘Passion’, which derives from the Latin word passio, meaning “suffering”.

“Foal”: a term used to describe a young donkey.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9: 9