July 28, 2016
My 2016 Ongoing Journey: Exploring Matthew to discover what following Jesus and becoming more like him would look like.
Matthew 17:22-23 ~ (My apologies for the errant textual reference in my previous blog. It should have been verses 14-21, rather than 1-13 of Matthew 17. Hopefully, you found the right passage in spite of my error.)
These two short verses report the second of Jesus’ predictions of his passion. In the first (Matthew 16:21, see my blog from May 20), Peter took him aside and scolded him: “Messiahs don’t talk like that, Jesus! Messiahs don’t die!”
Sometimes following Jesus can become very inconvenient. He challenges our most cherished beliefs (e.g., “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not in the Bible, which is inconvenient if you’re trying to use your faith as the basis of withholding aid from the poor.)
There was no more strongly held and cherished idea in Israel than the expectations regarding Messiah. He would be “Son of David:” heroic warrior, conquering all Israel’s enemies; majestic king, ruling with power and international esteem. Every nation tipped its hat to Israel when David was king.
Jesus never called himself “Son of David.” “Son of Man” was his chosen self-reference. 81 times in the Gospels he uses the epithet to refer to himself. The distinction, “Son of David/Son of Man”, is a valid and interesting topic for study in a venue more comprehensive than this blog. I point it out simply to identify one of the many ways Jesus challenges our most cherished and strongly held convictions.
No humanly held ideology or tenet of faith can be considered infallible or absolute. Israel anticipated one kind of Messiah; Jesus fulfilled an antithetical reality.
We Christians anticipate a “second coming” that matches the Jewish expectation almost point-for-point. I fully expect that, in whatever way God chooses to fulfill the biblical bases of our anticipation, we will be caught by surprise. Many will be disappointed, and many more will not see it at all; rather, they will continue to watch and wait. Who knows? It may already have happened. It may be a recurring reality.
Meanwhile, what we have is faith. Faith is the decision to act on the basis of what we say we believe. In that faith, my anticipation of what God will do in the future becomes secondary to the concrete pattern of behavior Jesus calls me to follow here and now.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
That's the way it looks through the flawed glass that is my world view.
Together in the Walk,