Tag Archives: Messiah

Today’s Scripture – August 28, 2018

John 10:22-26 (NIV)
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.”

The controversy over Jesus’ identity continued to heat up in the break between the Feast of Tabernacles when He healed the man born blind, and when he returned a couple of months later for the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). In those intervening weeks, the Jewish leaders had done little else than discuss Jesus and His claims.

Some clearly believed that He was the Prophet who was foretold by Moses based solely on His miracles. Others were willing to go further, believing that He could even be the Messiah Himself, based on the same miraculous power that He demonstrated.

But there was a faction on the other end of the spectrum who believed the opposite. They believed that Jesus was a great deceiver and a lawbreaker, based on His verbal attacks on themselves, as well as on His clear disdain for the “traditions of the elders,” including their traditional interpretation of the Sabbath laws.

In between these extremes was a sizeable faction who had not yet made up their minds about Jesus. They found themselves torn between the two arguments, unable to decide, and it was representatives from that group that approached Jesus in Solomon’s Colonnade that cold winter afternoon.

Their demand was simple: “Give us a simple yes or no answer to whether You are the Messiah. Don’t give us stories or analogies, just ‘Yes, I am the Messiah,’ or ‘No, I am not’.”

Jesus answer was simple, though it was not the answer they wanted. He had told them already that He was the Messiah, both directly, and in the parables that He had told. And the miracles that He had done, astounding miracles, also testified clearly to his identity.

But He went a step further. The reason that these leaders were torn, the reason that they couldn’t both see and hear the resounding “yes” to their question before they ever asked, was because they didn’t belong to Jesus’ flock.

This was a profound statement, because, as Jesus had clearly shown earlier, His flock was not simply those who followed Him; it was actually the true people of God. His statement here put those people, the very religious leaders of the Jewish people, outside of that group. They couldn’t see or hear the evidence of Jesus’ identity because they were spiritually blind and deaf. They had ceased following God long ago, and were now following rules and regulations, Moses, and long-dead rabbis as their gods.

Jesus did not write these leaders off at this point. Instead, His answer pointed out to them that there were things going on that they really couldn’t see. Indeed, after Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost just a few months away, some of these would believe and have their eyes and ears opened and would be suffused with spiritual life. But for now, they were outside the flock, and would have to use the only gate of faith in Jesus to enter in.

Father, it’s really pretty simple once we have had our eyes and ears opened. Work powerfully, Lord, to open the eyes and ears of those all around us who need Your saving grace, so that they can see their sin, hear Your call, respond, and be saved. Amen.


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Today’s Scripture – July 10, 2018

John 7:25-30 (NIV)
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.

The people in the crowd noticed that the Jewish leaders were not responding to Jesus at all. What they couldn’t see was the anger seething beneath their placid expressions. Jesus was calling them out, and every one of His statements had hit its mark. They were more determined than ever to see Jesus done away with.

But the people saw the silence of the religious leaders as acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, as the miracles He had been doing clearly attested. But still, the people were troubled about Jesus. Many of them had been taught a version of the Messiah that was based mostly on man’s ideas rather than on Scripture. In that theology, the Messiah would be a mysterious stranger, an invincible heavenly messenger that would suddenly appear on earth, take up the throne of Israel, and return God’s people to the pomp and splendor of Solomon’s time.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t match that description very well. He could do miracles, sure. But He hadn’t just appeared out of nowhere. He was from Nazareth, up north in Galilee. And He didn’t look superhuman or invincible. His feet and the hem of His robe were just as dusty from the dirt roads as anyone else’s, His skin was darkened by the sun, and His hands had more the look of those of a tradesman than of a nobleman or a scholar. So how could He really be the Messiah?

Their discussion was cut short by Jesus’ answer. The fact that they knew where He had come from made Him no less a messenger of God, or the Messiah. In fact, Jesus claimed that He knew God in ways that were impossible for even the religious leaders to know Him. They had information about God that had been transmitted to them via the prophets and the Scriptures. But that was just head knowledge. He, on the other hand, claimed to know God relationally, to have come from His very presence.

That was too much for some of the leaders who wanted to take Him away right then and stone Him for blasphemy, for claiming to have come directly from God’s presence. But they couldn’t get past the crowd whose circle around Jesus suddenly seemed to be impenetrable. God was not going to let them get to Jesus before His time. So they just continued to stand there and seethe.

Father, it is still quite common today for us to believe that we know more about You than we really do, based on traditions and teachings that we have received that are not based on Scripture, but on human reasoning. Some of these traditions and teachings are true, and some are not. But we would do much better to simply allow the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to the truth in Your word, so that we can more fully understand what You have actually revealed to us, and leave speculation alone so that we don’t become misled ourselves, and in turn mislead others. Thank You that You do let Yourself be known through Your word to ALL who seek You wholeheartedly. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – May 16, 2018

Luke 22:7-13 (NIV) Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

The disciples were all observant Jews, and at the Passover every year in Jerusalem. For the last three years, they had eaten it with Jesus. But this year was different. There was a great sense of expectation among the disciples.

Five days earlier, Jesus had ridden into town to jubilant crowds proclaiming Him to be the Messiah, and He had accepted the title. Then He had cleared the temple courts of the merchants, and had stared down those who confronted Him about it. Finally, the number of those who were gathering around Jesus and listening to Him was rapidly increasing. It looked like His ascension to the throne was imminent.

So they were anticipating that the Passover dinner this year would be extraordinary. They were excited about all the possibilities, and when Jesus instructed them to go and start the preparations, they were ready to get moving. All they needed to know was the place that He had arranged.

Jesus gave them peculiar directions that were entirely in keeping with His character. Instead of telling them a street name or giving them a landmark to look for, they were told to look for the unusual sight of a man carrying a water jar. (It was normally women who did that work.) They were to follow him, and the house that he entered would be the place that the feast was to be prepared.

Of course, when they obeyed Jesus, they found that everything was exactly as He told them that it would be. And they got everything ready for what they believed would be a banner event.

Father, I have found in so many cases that when I obey You precisely, I discover that You have gone ahead of me to prepare the way before me. Lord, even in places where the mission seems impossible, help me to simply trust, and to follow Your guidance. Then I can know that I will see Your will fulfilled in miraculous ways. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 30, 2018

Luke 20:41-44 (NIV) Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

Some look at Jesus’ words here and conclude that Jesus is denying being a descendant of David. But in Luke 3:23-31, Luke clearly shows that Jesus IS a direct descendant of David. So what is Jesus actually saying here?

The people were looking for a merely human Messiah, one who would reestablish the line of Davidic kings, and who would lead Israel into a new golden age of world domination. Thus, over the years, strong men who looked like the would be great military leaders had misled the people into following them as potential messiahs, until they ultimately came to ruin.

But Jesus was trying here to help God’s people to see a much larger picture of Who the Messiah was prophesied to be, using Psalm 110, a Psalm that the rabbis and scholars taught was clearly Messianic. Right at the opening, David writes of the Messiah’s commissioning by God. And David uses what appears in English translations to be convoluted language, “The Lord said to my lord,” but which in Hebrew is very clear. The Hebrew reads, in effect, “The declaration of Yahweh to my Adonai.” Yahweh is God’s personal covenant name, the name by which He revealed Himself to Israel. Adonai is the common word for Lord or master, and was widely interpreted, in this case, as a title signifying the Messiah.

Jesus’ point was, if the Messiah was simply David’s son, it would be odd for him to refer to him as “my Lord” or “my master.” So the fact that David used that terminology showed that the Messiah would be much more than a mere human descendant of David. The very words of Scripture indicated that there would be a divine element to the Messiah; an element that was missing in all prior candidates, but an element that was definitely present in Jesus.

Father, it is fascinating how much is hidden in plain sight in Your word, easily missed by those who satisfy themselves with a cursory reading. But Jesus, in reality the co-author of those same Scriptures, knew all that was in them, even those things that were camouflaged, and was eager to reveal them to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Help me to see clearly all that Your word holds, so that I can know You and Your will better. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 13, 2018

Luke 19:45-46 (NIV) Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”

The market in the temple court, actually in the large Court of the Gentiles which surrounded the inner complex where the Jewish people could enter in to worship, was started for good reasons. If someone traveled too far to bring an animal to sacrifice, or if the animal that they brought was defective in some way and couldn’t be offered, having a stock of acceptable animals that could be purchased, sheep, goats, bulls, and even doves, was a good thing. And having tables where people could exchange their Roman denarii , unacceptable for temple offerings because they bore the image of a pagan emperor and pagan gods and temples, for good Jewish shekels without those kinds of images, was a good thing.

The problem arose when the Jewish leadership realized that a handsome profit could easily be made from those good things. Raising the price just a bit above retail on the livestock that was sold (after all, every animal was officially certified to be acceptable to God, which was worth something) could bring in a tidy sum each day. And there was now strong motivation to closely inspect animals that had been brought to sacrifice. Was that a discoloration in the wool? What that hoof a bit malformed? Better to buy an animal that was certified than run the risk of your sacrifice being rejected by God!

And the same thing happened with the money changers. Instead of providing a straight-across trade, weight for weight, the tendency was to charge an exchange fee that was increased occasionally (due to inflation, of course).

Add to that the fact that this livestock market and trading floor, along with all of the noise and smells that went along with it, were taking up a lot of room in the court of the gentiles, the only place non-Jews could come to learn about the true God, and you could drive someone like Jesus right over the edge, which is exactly what happened.

Now that Jesus had taken up the title of Messiah, the first thing He did was to cleanse the temple of all that was worldly and not of God’s design. Of course all of this put Him on a collision course with the Jewish leadership. He was cutting into both their income and their authority structure that had been built up over centuries.

Father, we don’t often see Jesus angry, but we definitely do here. And it is good to understand that it was worldliness and greed in a place that was designed by You to be a place for prayer, worship, and even outreach, that drove Him there. Because none of those things could effectively happen when worldliness and greed had taken control. Help us to keep not only our church buildings, but our hearts as well, free of all of those things, so that You can use us effectively for Your agenda. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 9, 2018

Luke 19:39-40 (NIV) Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

To these Pharisees, the shouting and overt joy of the disciples seemed inappropriate. After all, the whole crowd, walking into the city of Jerusalem, the throne of God, for one of the most awesome remembrances of the year, was being swept along in their enthusiasm, and even joining in with the chanting.

And what chanting it was! It seemed to them that Jesus’ disciples actually believed that Jesus Himself was the Messiah! That was entirely inappropriate, not to mention dangerous! They themselves, while they couldn’t deny that Jesus’ teachings were amazing and His miracles spectacular, had rejected Him as the Messiah because He didn’t fit their expectations. But now here He was allowing His followers to get the whole crowd stirred up, believing that He was the Messiah riding into the city to take over!

Something had to be done before things got entirely out of hand. So they demanded that Jesus silence His disciples, that He stop them from proclaiming Him the Messiah!

Jesus’ response is one of His most clear acknowledgements that the Messiah was precisely who He was: “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” The Messiah was finally arriving to set men free from the mastery of sin and death, in fulfillment of God’s ages-long prophecies And that required celebration. If the humans were prevented from raising their voices to celebrate it, God would cause the very stones of the city walls to cry out the glad tidings!

Father, this far removed from the event, we have a hard time realizing just how big a deal this entry of Jesus into the city really was. And it is amazing to me that, in spite of the mountain of evidence, the powers that be refused to accept who Jesus was, instead of simply falling on their faces in worship. Help us, Lord to recapture the awe and wonder for ourselves of who Jesus is, and to continually raise our voices in praise, so that the rocks won’t have to do our job for us. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 8, 2018

Luke 19:28-38 (NIV) After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Despite the fact that Jesus’ role as the Messiah was FAR different from what the Messiah had grown to be in the minds and hearts of the people, it must never be forgotten that He did come to fulfill that role as God had defined it over centuries. This included the combined roles of prophet, one who spoke to God’s people on His behalf; priest, one who presented the blood sacrifice before God’s throne; and king, the ruler of God’s kingdom on earth, who would rule forever.

One of the signs of the Messiah that God had given to the people through the prophet Zechariah (9:9) was the image of the Messiah coming into the city of Jerusalem in triumph on a donkey colt, as opposed to riding on a horse like a warrior. And it was now time for that sign to be fulfilled.

All lay in readiness for Jesus’ arrival. Just ahead, right on the near edge of the village of Bethany, was tied a donkey colt. Jesus instructed two of His disciples to fetch it. And when they brought it back, Jesus mounted it, and started down the Mount of Olives into the gates of Jerusalem.

The crowds going down the road into the city for the Passover was enormous, and those around Jesus, caught up in the moment, began singing Messianic verses from the Psalms, and praising God aloud for the great miracles that they had seen through Jesus’ ministry. Word quickly spread among the crows of who this was riding into the city on the donkey, and the imagery was not lost on them. They quickly took up the chants, laying branches and their own cloaks on the road ahead of Jesus as He passed by (Matthew 21:8-9).

This was a pivotal moment for the Jewish people. In fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, the Lord Himself was coming into Jerusalem to begin the process of purifying for Himself a people, the core of His kingdom. And the fate of the whole city depended on their reception of Him.

Father, unfortunately for the high priests, Pharisees, and teachers of the law, they were all blind, and could neither see who Jesus truly was, nor what He was doing by riding into Jerusalem in this fashion. And the consequences were indeed horrific: they ended up murdering the Son of God, and drawing down consequences on themselves that included death for multiplied thousands and the complete destruction of the city and the temple. Help us, Lord, to have eyes that clearly see, and hearts that quickly receive and fall into line behind You in whatever You are doing. Amen.

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