Skip to comments.The Hidden Messiah
Posted on 01/18/2019 5:42:04 AM PST by Gamecock
[Jesus] strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
- Matthew 16:20
Judah fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC, and from that moment on, the Jewish people longed for the day when they would be returned to their land and have a son of David ruling as king over them once more. God encouraged them in this hope, revealing to the prophets that He would restore the monarchy and set His people over the nations (Amos 9:1115; Micah 4).
Although the Jews returned to their land in 538 BC as the result of the decree of King Cyrus of Persia (2 Chron. 36:2223), they were still subject to the rule of other empires. Aside from a period of about fifty years, the Jews lived under the governance of Persia, then Greece, and then Rome. This only increased the longing of the people for independence and for a mighty king to deliver them from the occupying powers. By the first century AD, the Jews, living under Roman domination, were eager for the Anointed One, the Messiah, the King, to lead them against Rome and reestablish an earthly Jewish kingdom.
Certainly, the Old Testament picture of the Messiah includes the notion of a restored throne, culminating in the Messiahs reign over all creation in a new heavens and earth (Isa. 66:1524). But that is not all that the prophets say about the Messiah. Isaiah 53, for example, reveals that restoring the kingdom would not be accomplished without the sacrificial death of the Messiah on behalf of His people. Yet first-century Jews often overlooked the need for redemption from sin, focusing only on political salvation. Many individuals claimed to be the Messiah in the first century, and aware of these political aspirations, the Romans were quick to put down messianic claimants when they started making noise about being the promised King.
This may explain why Jesus frequently forbade His disciples from telling others that He was the Christ. It was not that He denied being the Messiah, for He affirmed Peters confession of Him as such (Matt. 16:1319). Instead, He kept Peter and the other disciples from sharing this news widely because He knew the general Jewish populace was expecting a political form of salvation alone (v. 20). Perhaps broadcasting His messianic identity would have cut His ministry short, before its appointed time of completion, for the Romans were quick to squelch any potential Messiah and an uprising that people following the Messiah might instigate. Perhaps He kept His office as Messiah hidden from all but a few people so that He could accomplish the most important messianic workatonement.
People today continue to expect the Messiah to be something He is not. Many think He approves of their sin when He is set against it. Others believe He has come primarily to bring a political form of salvation. However, Jesus came first to save us from our sin, and He will not come as conquering King until He returns. Let us take care not to expect wrong things of our Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
Passages for Further Study
John 6:15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
Instead, He kept Peter and the other disciples from sharing this news widely because He knew the general Jewish populace was expecting a political form of salvation alone (v. 20). Perhaps broadcasting His messianic identity would have cut His ministry short, before its appointed time of completion, for the Romans were quick to squelch any potential Messiah and an uprising that people following the Messiah might instigate. Perhaps He kept His office as Messiah hidden from all but a few people so that He could accomplish the most important messianic workatonement.
Or as human nature would have it, a sure-fire way to get the word out about anything is to say, "Mum's the word", or "Can you keep a secret?" or, "Promise not to say anything!"
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