“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his Kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33)
I just started going through the book of Luke again and this verse has had a profound impact on me. I just can’t seem to get away from the Gospels, and I also just can’t seem to finish a Gospel, either. I get distracted too easily — not by T.V or whiffle ball — but by some topic that emerges from the text. Then I’m hooked on the topic and will follow it religiously no matter how many different trails the search takes me on. This time, I’m completely enamored with the topic of the Messiah — who he was, what he did, etc… but, more specifically, who the Jews thought he would be. It’s no secret the Jews wanted and expected a king to lead a revolution against Rome (and with good reason). This is not a new idea for me, except it’s finally actually reshaping the way I read the Gospels. You’ll probably see some posts in the next few days about what used to be shop-worn gospel stories for me explained with new excitement.
Recently, I heard a sermon where the pastor said something to the effect of, “The Jews missed it.” He was of course referring to what the Jews wanted and expected of the coming Messiah compared to what the Messiah actually was. I agreed with the pastor completely. They did miss it (at least somewhat), but I’m also starting to think that statement is also somewhat arrogant. We know Jesus didn’t come and enlist an Israeli army to dominate the world. “Jesus came to free the world spiritually,” we’re quick to cry out. We seem to even look down on the Jews for wanting and expecting a military leader; a Messiah who would free them physically from oppressive Rome. But my question is simply, what would you have expected? If you were to ask any 1st century Jew what they knew of the coming Messiah, the description would sound an awful lot like King David himself. Any Jew would begin to tell you stories of King David; how David conquered the Jebusites in Jerusalem, how he “became more and more powerful” (2 Sam. 5:10), “struck down the Philistines,” (v.17-25) , captured a thousand of King Zobah’s chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers, how he struck down 22,000 Arameans… on and on and on about how “the Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (2 Sam. 8:5). And as Luke puts it (at least 3 times early in his writing), the Messiah was to rule on the “throne of his father David” (proclaimed by the angel Gabriel himself), to “reign over the house of Jacob,” and to be the “horn of Salvation” (quite literally) for Israel (proclaimed by Zechariah). The Messiah would undoubtedly play the role of political liberator and conquerer, one who would re-establish the nation of Israel back to the days of glory and splendor, not unlike it was with Solomon. Why would you have been the one to expect anything else?
Inspired by the picture to the right, I’m re-writing one of Aerosmith’s songs. Anyone want to help me with the lyrics to “Jesus’ Got a Gun?”