You are a Jew living around 2000 years ago.
Your life consists of typical Middle Eastern cultures and traditions of that day. Your earliest memories include your mother reciting Psalms to you, and your father giving you instruction from Proverbs. Your grandparents and great-parents told you stories of the Messiah who would come to be the King of the Jews and save His elect. They tell you to be looking for this prophet like unto Moses. You went to school and memorized the words of the prophets for telling this great king. For about 4,000 years these prophecies have been handed down ever since God told the serpent in the garden, “You shall bruise His heal and He shall crush your head.” Every day you proudly and boldly recite, “Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God!” You have been taught to love the Father for what He has done for you. You are anxiously awaiting the Messiah.
In your mind you have ideas about what to expect about the Messiah. How He will look, how He will act, the presence He will have about Him, His strength and the way He will rule as King of Kings. There is no way in your mind that God would choose a seemingly weaker vessel as He did with Noah, Abraham, Moses or David to show His divine strength. No, this time God would truly show His power, His might and His authority thru the Messiah.
The words of Isaiah “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised” either don’t make sense or don’t come to mind when you are envisioning your Messiah.
No, the Messiah you are looking for will stand out. You will know Him when you see Him. There is no way you are going to miss the King of the Jews.
Then one day you hear a man, Jesus, preaching like no one has ever preached before. He was preaching from His own authority. He was saying things like, “you have heard that it was said, but I tell you…” and this made you very uncomfortable. Who did this guy think He was? Hasn’t He heard of the prophets? Doesn’t He have any respect for the scribes and chief priests? Doesn’t He realize that the Pharisees know the Law better than anyone? Who is this Jesus guy?
You ask around and find out a little more about this man. Jesus is the son of a carpenter, and you have even heard that He may have been born in a barn. You hear that he’s eating and keeping company with tax-collectors and sinners. You’ve heard some rumors that He has done some impressive things as well. From what you’ve heard He’s fed multitudes, healed the sick and cast out demons.
But now you’re starting to hear from the religious leaders you look up to that this man is a heretic. The Pharisees have vowed to trap Him in His web of heresy. You hope they do. The last thing the Jews need right now is another false teacher sprouting up and diluting the Law.
Now things are starting to get worse. This man is claiming to forgive sins. He can’t do that! Only God can forgive sins! This man needs to be stopped. This has gone too far. Your anger boils to rage when you hear that now Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God.
NO! Not Him! Not this man! He is not your king. He is not your Messiah! Your Messiah would not look like Jesus, the poor son of a carpenter; the man who you would never pick out in a crowd. There is nothing about this man that says “King”.
So when you hear that He has been arrested and is being brought before Pilate, you drop everything to gather outside Pilate’s Praetorium. This heretic needs to be put to death. How dare He try to tell you how to live? How dare He claim to be the son of God? Jesus is not your King.
Pilate seems to be wavering on what he will do with Jesus, so you join the crowd chanting “crucify, crucify, crucify!” so that he will know for sure what you want to happen to this man.
Pilate continues to waffle. You feel like this is a decision he doesn’t want to make, so you put pressure on him. You let him know that if he does not send this man to be crucified, he is no friend of Caesar. Pilate tries to get out of the situation by giving you the choice to release the heinous murderer Barabbas or Jesus, thinking you’ll choose to release the non-violent heretic. Pilate is wrong. You’ll gladly accept Barabbas back into your community rather than this phony claiming to be God’s Son. What is wrong with Pilate? Why doesn’t he understand this man needs to be put to death? Finally Pilate makes a big show of washing his hands in front of everyone and says that the blood of this man would not be on him. “That’s fine!” you yell. “Let His blood be on us and our children!” And so He was led away to be crucified. Everyone’s pent up rage was violently released upon Jesus. He’s beaten, spit on, made fun of, humiliated, and stripped naked in front of His mother. You can tell as He hangs on the cross that He is carrying an incredible burden. “Good” you say, “serves Him right for claiming to be my Messiah.”
And that was it for the man Jesus; the heretic who claimed to be God’s Son.
Fast forward 7 weeks. It’s the day of Pentecost and Jews from all over the world are gathering in Jerusalem. And something amazing happens. These Galilean followers of Jesus are speaking, but everyone is able to hear in their own language. Then Peter steps up and begins to speak. “This should be good,” you tell your friend. “This is the guy who denied even knowing Jesus the night we killed Him.”
But what Peter has to say surprises you a little bit. Peter is speaking very familiar words. He’s preaching from the prophet Joel, and he’s quoting the word’s of David. The pieces start to fit. A huge knot begins to develop in your stomach as you put two and two together. Your eyes well with tears, “No, He couldn’t have been,” you think to yourself. Emptiness and hopeless overcome you. You are cut to your heart when Peter says, “Let all the house of Israel know for certain, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
“No no no no no no! This cannot be! Please don’t let this be!”
Crushed cannot begin to describe how you feel in this moment. Hopeless is merely the tip of the iceberg. You have failed. After 4,000 years of waiting and watching, you let your family down. “How could I miss the Messiah?”
“What have I done?”
“I murdered the Son of God. How could things be any worse? Why would God ever want to have a relationship with me?”
“I spit in His face as He was being beaten!”
“I chanted crucify, crucify, crucify!”
And when you can finally muster enough breath in between your tears, you ask Peter and the others in a weeping, broken voice “What shall I do?”
“Is there any hope for me?”
Peter says to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And you do. Immediately. There is absolutely nothing that can even come close to being as important to you in that moment.
Hope! Forgiveness! Remission of sin!
In a moment, you have gone from no hope to a having a promise of hope. Three thousand other people felt the exact same way that day. They couldn’t believe they had a second chance at a relationship with the Father.
There is no way you are going to mess this up again. “Thank God for my salvation thru His Son! Jesus, The Messiah, The King of Kings!”
Next time: You are Mary.