As I sit here staring at the blank screen before me, scratching at five day's worth of beard stubble, which incidentally I noticed this morning is going grey, I wonder how I get myself in these kinds of situations. It isn't that I fear offending anyone with the words I am about to write, the inevitability of offense is something I came to terms with a long time ago. What I fear is that some of you will offended for the wrong reasons, or because I was not adequately able to get my point across with my limited vocabulary.
I think to myself there are easier things I could be doing right now, perhaps go down to the local grocery store, buy an industrial size bottle of Grecian formula, and have at my grey hairs, but vanity was never something I saw any value in, plus the stuff costs an arm an a leg.
Well, I guess it's rip off the band aid time, one quick tug, one brilliant flash of searing pain, then on to less painful endeavors like borrowing my wife's tweezers and yanking the grey hairs out individually, one by one, until I pass out.
In recent days a great controversy has been brewing within Christendom, one which has as yet, unfortunately, not reached its zenith. It will continue to grow, and draw the attention of the saved and unsaved alike, everyone likes a good controversy, each throwing in their respective two cents never really bothering to go to the Scripture for answers.
It has to do with a recently published book, by a well known American evangelist, which asserts that 'Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah and that Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah'. He further asserts in his writings that 'the Jews cannot be blamed for not accepting what was never offered'.
I will not mention the man, or the title of his book in this post, but if you seek you will find it, since cyberspace is all abuzz about it.
Let me begin by saying I consider Israel to be God's chosen people. I also believe that due to our defense of Israel, God has spared this nation for longer than its many transgressions should have allowed. However, we cannot deny their culpability in rejecting the Christ, just as we cannot deny that the Pharisees and Sadducees of that time had a hand in His crucifixion. I will be the first to say that I am all for being in defense of Israel, as long as we heed the Word, and not gloss over what is written therein, in an attempt to expunge the notion of accountability on behalf of those long returned to the earth.
There are many avenues we can pursue here, but I would like to answer the question at the heart of this particular controversy: "Did the Pharisees know they were rejecting the Messiah?"
Since I have a bad back, I often refrain from throwing around big words, but this is a delicate and important matter, so I will make an exception in this case.
The answer to the all important question, can be found in Matthew the twenty second chapter, a chapter that has been dubbed by many 'the chapter of controversies'.
Here they were, the most brilliant religious minds of the time, Pharisees and Sadducees, teachers of the law, and priests of the highest order, trying desperately to silence and destroy the ministry of one called Jesus of Nazareth. All had come together under a singular banner, that of discrediting Jesus, and proving that He in fact was not that which He claimed to be.
Jesus never had a polemical, contentious, or argumentative spirit about Him, yet here He was rising to the challenge, embroiling himself in the controversy, and provoking the Pharisees and Sadducees to answer Him one question.
Before I quote the Scripture passage, I would like to make a point. Jesus always spoke to His audience on their level. To fishermen He spoke of fishing, to farmers He spoke of farming, so to those that were now gathered before him, the religious, the educated, the Pharisee, and the Sadducee, He spoke of the Old Testament, the law, referencing topics, and in terms they should have understood.
Matthew 22:41-45, "While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, 'What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?' They said to Him, 'the Son of David.' He said to them, 'How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord', saying: 'The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool'? If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?"
All those present, witnessing this exchange, including the apostles believed that Jesus was asking this question in the hopes of silencing His adversaries, and causing them to shrink away from Him.
The reason Jesus asked the question, was not to silence the theologians of Jerusalem, but rather it was His final attempt to open their eyes to who He was, that they would believe, His final attempt at their salvation.
Those opposed to Christ did not have a clear answer, as Jesus knew they wouldn't. If however they would have at least tried to give an answer that was not mechanical and cold, but would have asked for time to study, to search, to compare His life to the prophecies of old, they would have reasoned very differently.
Christ spoke to these men on their level, in a riddle that He knew they could understand, if they so desired. Jesus knew that if He simply would have said, "I am the Messiah, the one the prophets of old foresaw", the hearts of the Pharisees, and Sadduccees would have been all the more hardened. He gave them enough information, to reach the conclusion themselves, to see the truth for what it was, if only their heart had been to know the truth.
If anyone should have known, it was the Pharisees that the Anointed One, the Messiah was to be a descendant of the Davidic lineage. It had been prophesied. Even though there were different interpretations concerning the place, and the role of the Messiah, no one doubted that He would be of the family of David, David's son.
At this point we can go deeper, and see the mystery and beauty that is Christ telling David to sit at his right hand, denoting the fact that indeed He was, and is, and forever shall be co-regent with God, sitting on the throne, but the post is already a lengthy one, and if I added all the notes I've made in the last two days, it would end up being a small booklet, so we will just focus on Christ's final words to those listening.
Then Jesus asked His final question, one that would either open the eyes of those listening to who He was, or end the debate. "If David then calls Him 'Lord', how is He his Son?"
If we looked upon these words in the context of the times, we would realize that it was largely a patriarchal society. It was inconceivable for a son to ask his father to call him 'Lord'. On the contrary it was the children who often used punctilious terms with their parents. Respect for ancestry was deeply rooted in all the peoples of antiquity, and the Jewish people, although they never had a cult of the dead like other nations, had a veneration, and respect for those who came before them. They often spoke of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, in words heavy with religious sentiment. I would even go so far as saying that there was a greater respect in how they spoke of their ancestors, than there was in the way in which they spoke about angels. It was then inconceivable for someone to say they were the 'Lord of David, Abraham and Jacob', and yet David calls the Messiah 'my Lord'.
Why would Jesus speak these words if he had not intended for the Jewish people to know that He was Messiah? Truthfully, he wouldn't have. He was about to leave this earth, and His people, the Jewish people had as yet not understood His purpose or ministry, nor had they recognized Him for who He was. It was a final attempt, and Jesus was inviting those wholly capable of unraveling the mystery, to follow it to its rightful conclusion and acknowledge Him as Messiah!
Did Jesus give them enough information to reach the right conclusion? Yes. Did those listening to Jesus have the aptitude and education to follow the thread, and see where it inevitably led? Yes. Did they choose instead to ignore the truth that stood before them, plug up their ears and harden their hearts? Yes.
John 1:10-13, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Isaiah 53:2-7, "For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Hm, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth."
Thank God for Jesus! Thank Jesus for the cross!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.