TEN NEW IDEAS ABOUT THE MESSIAH FROM THE EDGE OF TIME
I admit to not taking the notion of Messiah more seriously than it deserves. Not brought up in the Jewish tradition, I just accept that Jesus is Lord and go on about my business. But, as of late, my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5) have been trending towards a deeper penetration into the notion of Jesus as Messiah. It all began several years ago (who is counting, when you are over 80 years old?) and I asked the question, Why do we have Scriptures at all? It is just to prove that Christianity is correct and other religions are wrong? Is it so that I can justify my faith through reading about historical and literary sources? Scriptures were written by many different people over the centuries. Why? St. John’s Gospel 30:30-31 gives us a peek at why. It says:
“30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s
31 But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.t”
Here are some of my thoughts about Jesus as Messiah that I can remember from several of my Lectio Divina meditations.
1. Jesus, as the Christ Principle, strattles the Old Testament preparation for the Messiah with one arm outstretched in the Old Testament to the other arm extended to the New Testament. The image is Christ on the cross, where he is the Alpha and the Omega, the person who gives meaning to the longing of the Old Testament for a savior.
2. Jesus, as the Christ Principle, fulfills Israel as the Jerusalem where God can touch humans through sacrifice and adhearance to the Laws. The New Jerusalem is not just the continuation of a tradition of having God on your side, it is the transformation of the covenant to include all humanity that recognize that they must be on God’s side to inhabit the kingdom of heaven.
3. Jesus is not just some dreamy shepherd who used to be a carpenter and had illusions of being God, but rather God who dreamed through His Son that all of us would at least have a chance to fulfill the ultimate destiny of humans, to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
4. Jesus showed us by his words and deeds how to love others and bid us to do the same in each age.
5. No messiah that is merely human would have either the mental awareness to be a savior for the ransom of many, much less have a plan of action that clearly is from God’s heart and not from human aspirations of power, exclusivity of being God’s family, and moving to the New Jerusalem (the Kingdom of Heaven).
6. Critics of Jesus who say he was just a dreamy kid with delusions of grandure, fail to answer the questions: How did Jesus make all that stuff up that clearly was not in the Old Testament nor even during his time on earth? Being the Son of God? Where did that originate?
7. How could someone with no formal rabbinical training be seated in the temple teaching the elders about his mission? Where did that originate?
8. Jesus knew he was going to die voluntarily for the sins of many (Romans 5) and yet had to fulfill the mission from his Father. (Philippians 2:5). We have a notion of One God in the Old Testament. We have the revelation of One God having three distinct persons in the New Testament. Christ is the foundation stone of the New Jerusalem built not with brick but with the Baptized disciples who call Jesus Lord.
9. Jesus is the mediator between divine nature and human nature. We get close enough to the Father through Christ to become adopted sons and daughters. What that means and particularly how that will be is not clear. St. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:9 that the “eye has not seen nor had ear heard nor has it entered the mind of man what God has in store for those who love him.” Isaiah 64 fortells this in the Old Testament.
As when brushwood is set ablaze,
or fire makes the water boil!
Then your name would be made known to your enemies
and the nations would tremble before you,
2While you worked awesome deeds we could not hope for,*
3such as had not been heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen,
any God but you
working such deeds for those who wait for him.a
4Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we might be mindful of you in our ways!
Indeed, you are angry; we have sinned,
we have acted wickedly.
5We have all become like something unclean,
all our just deeds are like polluted rags;
We have all withered like leaves,
and our crimes carry us away like the wind.b
6There are none who call upon your name,
none who rouse themselves to take hold of you;
For you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our crimes.
10. The Messiah did not come to dominate but to show us how to be meek and humble of heart, the opposite of what the world sets forth as meaningful. Christ is the sign of contradiction and as such makes sense as the Messiah. You can’t teach that to people, as is evidenced by the fact that Jesus had to become one of us to rescue us from our ignorance with the knowledge, love and service that come from the Trinity.