During his whole mortal life on earth, including the two or three years of His active ministry, Christ lived as a devout Jew, Himself observing, and insisting on His followers observing, the injunctions of the Law ( Matthew 23:3 ).
The sum of His teaching, as of that of His precursor, was the approach of the "Kingdom of God", meaning not only the rule of righteousness in the individual heart ("the kingdom of God is within you" — Luke ), but also the Church (as is plain from many of the parables ) which He was about to institute.
Whatever their corruption, these new religions, concentrating worship on a single prominent deity, were monotheistic in effect.
Moreover, many of them were characterized by rites of expiation and sacrifice, which familiarized men's minds with the idea of a mediatorial religion.
It was to this fact rather than to the wonders He worked in His lifetime that His accredited witnesses always appealed in their teaching.
On the marvel of the Resurrection is based in the counsels of God the faith of Christianity.
Mistaken national pride, accentuated by their galling subject to Rome led them to read a material significance into the predictions of the triumph of the Messias, and hence to love their privilege of being God's chosen people. Paul's metaphor ( Romans ) was then grafted upon the stock of the patriarchs in place of those rejected branches, and entered upon their spiritual inheritance.
We may trace, too, in the world at large, apart from the Jewish people, a similar though less direct preparation.
These and other aspects of this great subject will receive treatment under separate titles.In that nation alone, the great truths of the existence and unity of God, His providential ruling of His creatures and their responsibility towards Him, were preserved unimpaired amidst general corruption.The ancient world was given to Pantheism and creature-worship ; Israel only, not because of its "monotheistic instinct " (Renan), but because of the periodic interposition of God through His prophets, resisted in the main the general tendency to idolatry.Yet, though He often foreshadowed a time when the Law as such would cease to bind, and though He Himself in proof of His Messiahship occasionally set aside its provisions ("For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath ", Matthew 12:8 ), yet, as, in spite of His miracles, He did not win recognition of that Messiahship, still less of His Divinity, from the Jews at large.He confined His explicit teaching about the Church to His immediate followers, and left it to them, when the time came, openly to pronounce the abrogation of the Law.