As Christmas season approaches, we want to look back at why Jesus Christ needed to become man so He could save us. What does it mean for Him to be Messiah?
A voice in the wilderness broke the 400-year silence of God. It was the voice of John the Baptist.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”
At the sound of his proclamation, a new wind blew past the desert dunes.
Sinners rushed to repent.
Pharisees turned their heads and tore their robes indignantly.
Onlookers leaned in, listened closer, and asked among themselves:
“Could he really be the Messiah?”
Jesus from Nazareth.
But Messiah? No. Certainly not.
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
Not everyone was astonished by the miracles that he made. Did they miss any of the signs? Were they expecting someone else? Did Jesus fail to meet their expectations?
Jesus came at a time when the Jews were struggling for national liberation from Rome.
At that time, what remained of the mighty kingdom of Israel were only remnants of their glorious past. They had no land of their own and were governed by the pagans that they deeply abhorred. They only hear of Israel’s glorious past from their elders and the Scriptures—of David’s fame, of Solomon’s riches, and of Joshua’s epic war stories that made the enemies scurry in fear.
The great prophets of the old spoke of a coming King; someone from the line of David who will put an end to this tragedy. They said that he is God’s appointed King who will restore the kingdom, recover Israel’s fortunes, and rule the world with justice and righteousness.
He is their promised Messiah. The Christ. God’s appointed one. The coming King whose kingdom will never end.
Amid the frustrations and oppressions, the people patiently waited for a political savior. A rider on a white horse, shouting liberation and justice for the people of God. Someone who can trample the Roman Empire and restore their lost dignity as a people.
They look up to Heaven; alas, no sign of divine rescue. So the zealots went mobilizing. The people went plotting a revolt. The atmosphere was tense.
Until Jesus came, claiming himself to be the Messiah. Like a political campaigner, Jesus went throughout all towns, cities and villages, telling people about a theocratic Kingdom that was already at hand.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
But Jesus was an antithetical character to the messiah of their collective imaginations. They were expecting a royal king, not a lowly carpenter’s son. They were awaiting a mighty ruler, not an itinerant teacher who talks about loving your neighbors as yourself.
They were expecting salvation through a savior who will destroy evil, overthrow Rome, and will establish his government with irresistible power. Jesus, on the contrary, established his Kingdom, not in Jerusalem, but in the hearts of his followers. His diplomatic offensive was love.
So when Jesus did not overthrow Rome nor established God’s Kingdom as they have imagined, they thought him to be a fraud.
More so, they crucified him.
Modern Christianity has placed too much emphasis on Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
Well-meaning Christians and preachers teach that Jesus’ mission is to give us purpose, salvation, and a full life with God.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that what he came to do?
YES! He came to seek and to save the lost. He came as a ransom for our sins, and to redeem for himself a people.
Jesus came not just to save us from hell, but to liberate all of creation from the dominion of Satan. Jesus came not just to give us life to the full, but to also redeem the whole creation, destroy sin and evil, to restore the world to its original state, and to establish his eternal government on earth.
When we miss out on this truth, we become self-absorbed believers who feel entitled to receive blessings and favor. We turn Jesus into a functional savior who is always required to prove himself as the messiah that we received in our lives.
No wonder sometimes people doubt if Jesus was true. No wonder why people, just like the Jews, think of him as a fraud. No wonder why people still crucify Jesus in their hearts and minds whenever he seems to fail their expectations.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God so loved the world so he sent Jesus to be the Messiah.
He loved the world. This includes you, but this is not just about you. He loved the world, His entire creation, so Jesus came to save it. Jesus’ salvation isn’t just about our personal salvation. It’s also about societal transformation.
He is the promised Messiah as confirmed by his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The hope that he promised is not just personal, but also social, spiritual, and yes, even political. He has established his Kingdom in the hearts of His followers, and a time is coming when he will establish His eternal Kingdom in the new heaven and the new earth. The governments of the world will rest upon His shoulders, and the kingdom of this world will become his Kingdom.
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