Journeying through the New Testament has quickly become the adventure I never expected. Unlike the lesser known road of the Old Testament books, each step in the New reveals something in these old well trodden paths that I never took notice of before. Like a blind man made seeing - fascinated by colors and details - I find myself enamored by simple word placement and choice. The mystery of Jesus' life is mesmerizing and what I am coming to understand more deeply as I study is that the Jesus I am seeing is not the same Jesus I came to know and understand as a child.
In my conception of Jesus, I know that He is God in the flesh. What I assumed thus far is that He, the Son of God, came down to earth to live a miraculous and sinless life, rebuke the wicked, die on the cross for sin of the world, be raised to life, and be taken back up to heaven until returning to establish His kingdom here. With age came more in-depth lessons. His miracles proved his oneness with God; the life He lived was to make up for the one that man failed from Adam on down; His death was a sacrifice; His resurrection obliterated death's hold on man; His ascension is temporary; and His reign on earth will be established in the future while sin and evil will be defeated once for all. Eternity will be either one of life or judgment depending on your belief in these things. What I did not know was how this study would challenge and reshape that mindset. After my trek through the Old Testament I am seeing the Messiah much differently.
There is a new level of understanding, even empathy in my heart for those that misunderstood this Messiah. Too often I have ridiculed the Pharisees and the small in faith that Jesus rebuked because I have failed to see myself in them. Too easily I have thought, "How foolish are these little people following Jesus and seeing all He does and still rejecting Him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament! He clearly states He is the Messiah, yet they ask Him over and over if He is. The Pharisees are hypocritical and self-righteous while the disciples are dull and of small faith." God has used the keen edge of fresh perspective to slice away the callousness of my ever judging heart in order to humble me. Confusion surrounded Jesus' claims because He came in ways these people never expected! His claims were radical, and seemed even heretical. Their whole system of Law and ritual was being explained to them by this enigma who often did not speak plainly to them regarding His position and purpose. Therefore, they struggled to comprehend the things of which He spoke. Now more than ever, I am understanding why they questioned how this Man could be the Messiah when He went against all they knew and understood.
MY NEW EYES SEE
The Messiah's purpose was not to be a great showman, nor to overthrow the government of Rome. As Isaiah said, the Messiah would not declare Himself loudly in the streets. No crowds would be sought. Simply enough, whoever came, came. Jesus allowed them all - those believing, those doubting, those opposing. He had no intention of usurping a throne or establishing a physical kingdom in those days. Nowhere did it say that He would come to perform many miracles or destroy the wicked, yet He did do wonders and uphold justice. It was foretold that He would be mighty and powerful and that He would be a king descended from David, come to liberate Israel from the foreign rulers over them. But Isaiah also said He would be gentle, quiet, meek.
When questioned by any, He answered truthfully about who He was. However, He did not declare from the rooftops who He was. No glory did He seek for Himself. Yes, those that sought Him were healed, those masses that followed were taught, those in need received, the spiritually oppressed were delivered, and the broken and weary were reminded of their worth. Jesus' heart was with the marginalized and the righteous men of the day were incensed! This Man was making some bold claims and doing things they never expected the Messiah would do, and when Jesus tried to clarify that He was doing what was written, they became outraged. To those that listened and followed and sought Him, He said, "tell no one of this for My hour has not yet come". The time for Him to be truly revealed to the world as the Messiah had not yet arrived - this ministry He was currently involved in was not the reason He had been sent to earth to manifest God to the world.
This Jesus I am learning to love more truly is not the Lord of brash rebuke and hard handed criticism for those that misunderstand. He is not the angry maniac with the strange mood swings. He is not the rebellious outlaw antagonizing the religious leaders and inciting disobedience. This is not the Jesus I am discovering. I am coming face to face with a far more iridescent picture of compassion, grace, mercy, tenderness, and boldness. This Messiah is gentle, quiet, meek. He is not afraid of the men of His day, but He is wise in knowing that there is a time and place for all things and the purpose with which He was charged has not yet come to fruition.
- He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament).
- He came not to overthrow the government as a Sovereign but to live life as a man among men.
- He came not to belittle the patriarchs but to succeed in the areas where the chosen forefathers had failed.
- He came to live outside of sin.
- He came to live among the sinful.
- He came not to judge and condemn but to seek and save the lost.
- He came not to establish a rule and live forever but to die upon a cross as a willing sacrifice.
- He came not to be defeated but to conquer sin and death.
- He came not to remain buried but to overcome the grave.
- He came to be resurrected.
- He came not to leave the Law as the way of man but to bring new life.
- He came not to stay here with us but to be taken away that He might return in His rightful royal splendor.
- He came not for His own praise or benefit but to bring glory to God and Him alone that we might understand our shortcomings and our insufficiency.
- He came to give us worth and purpose that we might have a way to be reconciled to God in relationship that we might not be trapped under the Law as we knew it in the Old Testament!
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
(to see more regarding His love, click the link above!)