Luke 9:22 (CEV)
22 Jesus told his disciples, “The nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. They will reject him and kill him, but three days later he will rise to life.”
But What KIND Of Messiah?
Yesterday Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was.
In the end, they say that he is the Messiah, and maybe that feels like the end of the story – they’ve solved the riddle – it’s all figured out.
But I’ve noticed that people can have vastly differing views of the same concept.
Think, for example, of the word “princess”. What connotations come to mind? Do you imagine a Cinderella in glass slippers waiting for a prince to come and sweep her away? Do you think of a small girl dressed up in a princess dress overtop of her jeans and t-shirt with her hair askew and lipstick sloppily painted around her lips? Do you think of someone with power and privilege, removed from real life, unable to relate to anything the average person has to go through? Or do you think of a character like Moana who is young yet tenacious, hard-working, a risk-taker, a visionary preparing to lead her people through challenging times into a better life?
Depending on which view of the word “princess” you have in mind, the word can be a compliment or an insult, it can convey messages of power and domination, or submission and weakness.
And if you wanted to follow in the footsteps of a princess, you would need to know which princess you were trying to follow.
Jesus lives in a context that is equally full of meanings and expectations of the Messiah. Different groups in Jesus’ day had different ideas about what the Messiah was going to do, and how he was going to do it. But kind of like the first several descriptions of “princess” above, the various ideas of how the Messiah was going to act when he arrived all basically boiled down to the expectation that the Messiah was going to slay the enemies of the Jewish people and become their political king. Violent measures were expected against the Romans because of passages like Psalm 2:5-9
But Jesus’ response to Peter’s statement (that Jesus is the Messiah) from yesterday’s passage is to reference a very different thread of prophecy from the Old Testament: the part that talks about the Messiah as needing to suffer as part of the process of bringing about the new Kingdom. So as we wrestle with what kind of a Messiah we are trying to emulate, what kind of a Messiah Jesus is, that we say we follow, I want to end today by asking you to take some time to read slowly through the words of Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (CEV)
13 The Lord says: My servant will succeed! He will be given great praise and the highest honors.
14 Many were horrified at what happened to him. But everyone who saw him was even more horrified because he suffered until he no longer looked human.
15 My servant will make nations worthy to worship me; kings will be silent as they bow in wonder.
They will see and think about things they have never seen or thought about before.
53 Has anyone believed us or seen the mighty power of the Lord in action?
2 Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, the servant grew up obeying the Lord.
He wasn’t some handsome king. Nothing about the way he looked made him attractive to us.
3 He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering.
No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, “He is a nobody!”
4 He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God.
5 He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well.
6 All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the Lord gave him the punishment we deserved.
7 He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off.
8 He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagine what would happen to him?
His life was taken away because of the sinful things my people had done.
9 He wasn’t dishonest or violent, but he was buried in a tomb of cruel and rich people.
10 The Lord decided his servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others. Now the servant will live to see his own descendants. He did everything the Lord had planned.
11 By suffering, the servant will learn the true meaning of obeying the Lord. Although he is innocent, he will take the punishment for the sins of others, so that many of them will no longer be guilty.
12 The Lord will reward him with honor and power for sacrificing his life. Others thought he was a sinner, but he suffered for our sins and asked God to forgive us.
- What kind of a Messiah are you looking for? Or maybe another way of looking at it would be, what kind of a God are you looking for?
- What kind of Messiah is Jesus? What kind of a God does Jesus offer us a glimpse of?
- How do these views differ?
- How are they the same?