Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 53; Luke 19:45-46
We see in the reading from Matthew that the crowds welcomed Jesus as the Son of David– a reference to the prophecy that the Messiah would be from the House of David, and would restore the Kingdom of Israel. This matched the expectations Jewish people (and their leaders) had built up over centuries. The people were ready for their conquering hero to deliver them.
In Luke, however, we see that Jesus’ focus was to bring respect to His Father’s house. Driving out the animals and turning the tables of the moneylenders over, Jesus came to make things right His way. He did indeed come to change the system, but it wasn’t the politics of Rome. Instead, he came to challenge the hearts of those chosen and set apart by God that their way of living needed change. How often is it that people decide a course of action, believing it to be God’s will somehow, ultimately find God has other plans? We are in good company.
The apostles, and, presumably, a majority of ordinary Jews, expected a conquering Son of David. Peter reminds us of our misconceptions, “Are you now going to restore the kingdom?” (Acts 1:6). He asked this question after Jesus had already risen from the dead! The apostles still expected Jesus to restore political power to the Jews despite spending three years with Him. Some commentators argue that Judas hoped to manipulate Jesus into rebelling against Rome when he had him arrested.
Our heroes are often good-looking and pleasing to the eye, one might say. The males are full of muscles, and the women are strong yet shapely. However, Isaiah 53:2 says, “He had no beauty nor majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his apperance that we should desire him.” Sorry folks, but Jesus was not handsome. He did not rely on good looks to attract people to Him, but on His knowledge of the truth that God is not interested in our politics – He is interested in our hearts. He is not focused on our ability to wage war, but in our ability to love our enemy as ourselves.
The Jewish people, at the time Jesus was with them, knew of two characteristics of the Messiah – that He would be from the line of David, and that He would be a servant king. The problem was that they failed to notice the Messianic prophecies, which presented a suffering servant-Messiah. I think that brings us back to the point alluded to above of humans wanting “their heroes to conquer and to offer great things to the people, not to suffer and die.” (Oaks n.d.)
How do you see Jesus? Do you know him as the servant king? Like the Jews of old, we often have an incomplete picture of who Jesus is. Some make him into a cosmic delivery boy giving blessings and solving all problems. Theirs is a gospel of prosperity. Others see Jesus as their military leader ready to lead them into victorious battle (even against other followers of Jesus). Let’s take this time to focus on Jesus as the Living Son of God, and ensure the systems participate in do not cause barriers between God and His people. As we walk with Christ, we can expect God to surprise us in our personal and community lives. Are you ready to review your expectations, and to step out according to God’s priorities?
Holy Bible, New International Version 2011 by Biblica, Inc., https://www.biblegateway.comOaks, J. Why did the Jews expect a conquering rather than a spiritual Messiah? https://evidenceforchristianity.org