Monday, January 4, 2010

Scripture On Sundays - Finding & Sharing the Jewish Messiah

Isaiah predicts to the Jews the wonder and excitement that would happen when news of the Savior's birth arrives, and that a heavenly alignment would cause an extra bright star to shine upon their land. It would intrigue some other kings enough to where they would come from afar to follow this star, in order to find, and bring the newborn King some very special gifts.

1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you
and His glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the arm.
5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.
Isaiah 60:1-6

As the prophets foretold in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Torah), God would send them a Messiah.  But they believed He would be sent just for them, to the Jews only, who are called God's "chosen" people.  But, as Paul tells the Ephesians in so many words, this Jesus Christ was not going to play favorites and just be the Messiah for the Jews....He came for everyone, including the Gentiles (non-Jews).  I believe the Jews also thought their Messiah would be a king-like and noble figure, not one who would be born in humble surroundings.  Maybe these are some of the reasons the Jews found Him difficult to accept as their own heaven-sent Messiah.  But we've come to learn from reading the scriptures that Jesus did not come to be a proud king who expected servants to be waiting on Him.  In contrast, He came to be the example of humility and to show that living a life being a servant to others would count as greatness in God, Our Father's eyes.  He was a servant who was willing to give His life to "purchase" the salvation of everyone's soul....everyone, that is, who choses to accept Him as the Way, the Truth and the Light.

2 Surely you have heard about the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit,
3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are co-heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:2-6

In addition to the fact that the Jews were later faced with the idea that they would have to share their Jewish Messiah with all the nations of the world, and that He initally wasn't born with all the appearances of, and in the fancy surroundings of a king, now the current King of Judea was feeling threatened by all the talk of this new arrival.  In this passage from Matthew, the kings from afar come to ask King Herod about Him.  We would later find out, the Baby Jesus would face the first threat on His life from King Herod..

The Visit of the Magi

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 and asked, "Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 " 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the Child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him."
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11 On coming to the house, they saw the Child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12

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