HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “The Bible - Jesus’ Story”
Today’s Topic: “Week 3: Jesus in the Gospels - the Unexpected Messiah”
For further study (retrieved on Thursday, August 20, 2020):
“Man or Messiah: The Role of Jesus in Judaism” - a Jewish perspective on Jesus as a false Messiah
Today, we are going to look at the story of Jesus contained in the Gospels, but possibly in a different way then you have before. As Christians we believe, based on the Gospel accounts, that Jesus was the long ago promised Messiah, come to save the world from sin. He’s also promised to return and we look forward to that day.
The Jewish people, for the most part, continue to look for the coming of the Jewish Messiah. They do not acknowledge Jesus as Christ; the ‘prophetic proofs’ from the Old Testament that Christians claim apply to Him, are denied as revisionist by nature. Jesus is rejected as a fraud on a number of issues–He just didn’t meet the criteria. He was not what the Jewish nation had been looking forward to. The Gospels tell us of an entirely unexpected Messiah–they tell us the story of Jesus!
Expectation #1 - The Messiah would be a human. God, or YHVH, in the Old Testament was understood as a singular being. The Jews of Jesus’ day held firmly to a faith that was Monotheistic–a belief in the existence of One God. They believed that the coming Messiah would be sent by God, but would be entirely human. Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah and the Son of God would have been as ridiculous a notion to them as if someone claimed to be the fourth person of God in today’s Christian churches. Because of that, every time Jesus affirmed His deity–His Oneness with God–those around Him accused Him of blasphemy.
But the Jewish people weren’t looking for God to come to earth as the God-man, they were expecting a strictly human Messiah. If Jesus had not claimed to be more than human, He might have won more people to His side; but Jesus’ claims to be the Son of the Father were truly offensive to the majority. It was blasphemous to suggest that God existed as other than a singular entity–their understanding had never allowed for the possibility of a Trinitarian God. This explains in part why his family thought He had lost His mind (Mark 3:21), the people of Jesus’ hometown attempted to throw Him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-30) and the religious leaders eventually had Him crucified under the charge of blasphemy (Matthew 26:64-65).
Expectation #2 - The Messiah would promote and live by the Laws of Moses.
The Jewish people knew that strict observance to the Laws of Moses, as given to him by God, was how the people could ensure God’s blessing on their nation. When the Messiah came he would usher in a new golden age for the Jewish nation, much as his predecessor King David had done. Under his rule, the people’s hearts would turn to God, the Temple and worship of God would be restored to former days of glory and the nation would be restored to a place of favour with God above all others. But again, Jesus disappointed. Not only did He not strictly observe all of Moses’ Laws as the Pharisees did, He appeared to flout them! We’ve already demonstrated that He was accused of being a blasphemer, but that wasn’t the only charge against Him.
For the Jewish people, the Sabbath or ‘Shabbat’ was to be a day set aside for prayer. They were not to do any work. Moses had very clear instructions from God concerning one individual who was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp” (Numbers 15:32-36). Keeping the Sabbath was deadly serious business for the Jews!
Jesus most certainly healed on the Sabbath and even defended His disciples who picked a snack on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1), but the question remains, did He break it? He was quick to point out that the Pharisees, by their own definition of ‘work,’ broke the Sabbath whenever they untied their ox or donkey for a drink. God had made it clear that no ‘regular work’ (Exodus 35:2) was to be done on Sabbath, but according to Jesus, ‘doing good’ was not only permitted, but encouraged, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12). But this did not agree with the Pharisees understanding of the Law at all.
He was accused of disregarding traditions -
Jesus wasn’t a stickler for traditions, many of which were misused. No, He didn’t insist that His disciples ceremonially wash their hands, fast or pay the Temple tax. Neither did He circumvent Samaria, avoid touching lepers or dismiss ‘sinners’ as being unworthy of His time and attention as other religiously upright teachers did. He was compassionate and was determined to demonstrate a better way than what the traditions dictated.
Expectation #3 - The Messiah would be a great king and would usher in an era of peace.
The Jewish expectations of the Messiah in many respects mirrors Christian’s expectations for the Second Coming of Christ. But unlike Christians, the Jewish nation is still looking for a human king, from the line of David, to come sweeping in to save and rule the Jewish nation, be anointed with holy oil and cause the world to experience an unending peace (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6-9). There will not be two appearances of the Messiah such as in the Christian belief, but a singular age in which this promised Rescuer will come, gather the nation of Israel to Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, reinstate sacrificial worship and will establish peace for the Jewish people among the nations.
Despite the sign placed on Jesus’ cross by Pilate that read, “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37), few were convinced that Jesus was a king and we certainly haven’t experienced an age of peace on this earth after his death. For these reasons alone, many Jewish people rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah and still do. Kings aren’t born in barns; Jewish kings aren’t refugees from Egypt; kings aren’t raised by carpenters and ordinary housewives; kings don’t hang around with common people; the Messiah king would not have died on a cross...therefore, Jesus was no king!
And what of the promised enduring peace? The continued conflict experienced by the Jewish nation and other peoples of this world is definitive proof that Jesus was not the Messiah. He could only be a fraud!
Summary - The Messiah we meet in the Gospels is an unexpected one. The people of Jesus’ day were convinced that they would recognize the Messiah when He came, but they remained blinded by their expectations. How did Jesus not live up to the expectations of the Jews concerning their promised Messiah?
Next week: “Jesus in the Church - Acts and Epistles”
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!