December 2016 Mind of the Missionary

As the Old Testament prophets told of the coming Messiah they painted three pictures of him—a king of the Davidic line, the Son of Man, and the Suffering Servant. Read Isaiah 11, Daniel 7 and Isaiah 53 as examples of texts where these pictures of a Messiah appear.

When Jesus came the people of Judah gave attention to only one of these pictures, that of a king of the line of David. Recall, the coming of the Wisemen to worship the king and the reaction of Herod and his spiritual counselors. Jesus, on the other hand, referred to himself many times as the Son of Man. This picture is one of a pre-existent being who comes from heaven to bless God’s people. Then as the early church reflected upon the death of Jesus on the cross they discovered that his role was as the Lamb of God, the suffering servant who atones for the sin of humankind.

Why did the religious leaders of 30 AD misunderstand Jesus? Obviously, they wanted a Messiah who would meet their perceived needs, a worldly king who would defeat Roman oppression and restore Judah as a world power.

This Christmas we will worship Jesus as suffering servant, the Son of Man and as the coming king—all three. We will note how the Jews misunderstood the role of the Messiah. He came as the Son of Man, God in the flesh (John 1). He died on the cross as the suffering servant (John 19). He is coming again as King (Matthew 24-25).  This is the correct order.

As we look for his return, we must be careful to not repeat the errors of the Jews of the first century; that is, not seek to dictate to God how, when, or where Jesus will return. We are sure only of who and why. Like many of you I have expected to see Jesus here on earth during my life time. From Hitler on I have heard many world figures identified as being the anti-Christ. But none of these proved to be true.

However, there are some truths from Revelation and the Olivet discourse (Matt. 24-25) concerning how to prepare for his return. These are certain.  Among them:

*Resurrection awaits

*Judgment is coming

*We are expected to serve others, in part, by meeting basic human needs—food, clothing, shelter, water, and caring friendship

*Love God and love neighbors

*Respond to the invitation of the Holy Spirt, put one’s faith in Jesus

*Have one’s name recorded in the Book of Life

*Be watchful and prepared

Revelation describes tribulation, war, destruction—evil running wild. It describes a great battle between good and evil. It tells of a thousand year reign of Jesus when there will be true justice and peace. It describes a great city where the saved will live eternally, worship God joyfully, and attend a great banquet.

As a part of your Christmas, read again the song of Zechariah found in part in Luke 1:72-75. Jesus is the victor. He will defeat our enemies—sin, death, and Satan—so that we can live and serve without fear in holiness and righteousness.

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