Transformation of Israel into the Church
How did the nation of Israel transform into the Church of Jesus Christ?
The Continued Presence of Christ in the Church
It is clear that the entry of the presence of Christ in Israel fundamentally transformed it into the Church. As it is due to his presence that this transformation occurred, his continued presence is necessary for this new Israel to remain in existence. Christ promised the members of the new Israel that "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). This indicates the absolute necessity of his presence to live the transformed spirituality he brings and thus be a member of the Church. And it is his presence that then leads the members of his Church to the Father. As Jesus said, "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 10:32).
As Matthew began his Gospel demonstrating Christ's entry into the old Israel, so he concludes it with Christ's promise of his continual presence in the Church: "lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matt. 28:20). All of the changes that have been wrought in Israel are only due to the insertion of Christ into its history, and these changes will only continue with his perpetual presence in the Church. As Guillet wrote, "So it is that the person of our Lord, far from growing more remote or faint with the passage of time, remains for ever living and inspiring for his followers. This is the fulfillment of his promise: 'I am with you all through the days that are coming, until the consummation of the world.'...[This] meant, really and truly, an actual presence" (Guillet 202). So Matthew reminds his readers that the transformative presence of Christ, which changed Israel so radically, will always be with the Church to which it gave birth.