Not the Messiah They Were Looking For

As a young Christian, I wondered why Jesus came incognito, so to speak. Why didn’t He go on a hilltop or to the temple and proclaim Himself: “I am the Messiah you’ve been waiting for all these years!”

There may be a variety of reasons. But in my current I-don’t-know-how-many-eth time through the Bible, I happen to be in John after having read the other three gospels. I’ve enjoyed going over all of Christ’s life on earth during the month of December, not just the “Christmas” portions. I’m using the ESV Study Bible, and its notes often remark that Jesus did not declare Himself openly because most of the Jews at that time were expecting a military ruler who would throw off Roman oppression. Several times in the gospels Jesus had to get away from the crowds because they wanted to make Him king immediately. Some, Jesus said, followed Him because of the loaves of bread He miraculously reproduced in the feeding of the 5,000.

There is a sense in which Jesus does fulfill all those roles already. He is the King of Kings, and some day the whole world will be under His righteous rule. Someday the crooked will be made straight and rights will be wronged. But these roles will be fully manifested at His second coming.

And there is a sense in which we do depend on Jesus for our daily bread and all other needs. But, as He told the crowds then:

Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:26-29, ESV).

Before He could declare Himself openly, He had to teach them the true nature of the Messiah. By many signs (miracles), by His claims (“I am the bread of Life,” “I am the light of the world,” etc.), by His declarations and teachings, bit by bit He showed them exactly who He was and what He was about. And some understood and accepted Him for who He was. They came to understand that His kingdom is a spiritual one.

But some left Him when he started to share “hard things.” Others realized He didn’t fit their image of what the Messiah would be and do, they rejected Him and sought to destroy Him.

Don’t people still do that today? Instead of learning from God’s Word the true nature of the Savior, they’ve imagined their own version of what a Savior would be like. He wouldn’t let evil happen. He’d take care of the bad guys. He’d answer every prayer just the way they want Him to. And when He doesn’t perform according to expectations, well, then, who needs Him?

We all need Him. But we need Him as He truly is, not as we think He should be. Even those of us who are Christians, even those of us who have been for a long time, still have to continually “renew our minds” and adjust our thinking according to truth. We come to know Him as Savior and Lord, but then we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Him better and adjusting ourselves away from our preconceived notions and expectations and toward who He really is. And we’re not disappointed, because in the end He’s a much better Savior than we could ever have imagined.

Do you know Him today as He truly is? Get to know Him through His Word. If you’re new to the Bible, start reading the gospel of John. See what He does and what He says about Himself.

And if you’ve known Him for years, keep getting to know Him better. Keep learning more and more what a wonderful Savior He is.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

11 thoughts on “Not the Messiah They Were Looking For

  1. I know that feeling of being frustrated that Jesus isn’t doing what I want him to do. It is definitely a journey to find peace in the midst of a chaotic world, slowly in believing God has a plan to redeem it all!

  2. I agree, it is easy to have our own ideas of what Jesus “should” be like, just as some people did when he came to earth. It is important to get to know him as he really is.

  3. “We all need Him. But we need Him as He truly is, not as we think He should be.” Ah, yes! This is so true, Barbara. We naturally want to make God in OUR image, instead of accepting the gift of being made in HIS image. Thanks for the reminder to never stop seeking him as he really is, not just who we want him to be.

  4. I think it’s a constant challenge to try to see Jesus as He truly is, and not just as we expect Him to be. Thank you for the reminder today!

  5. Pingback: Christmas Devotional Reading | Stray Thoughts

  6. Human nature never really changes, does it? We still want Messiah on our own terms. Even through different eras and epochs. I love how you share about Jesus and how He had to prepare people for his claim of being Messiah.

    Thank you for the exhortation to be yielded to who Jesus really is as Messiah, and to not try to conform Him into my version of Messiah. This is a great post to consider as we head further into the Christmas season.

  7. Such great thoughts. I loved this right here —-> We all need Him. But we need Him as He truly is, not as we think He should be. Amen.

    Thank you for sharing this truth at #TellHisStory.

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