For Jesus to accomplish His mission, he had to let Messianic expectations converge around him, while simultaneously revealing the Christ to be completely opposite from the concept held by His followers. Talk about walking a fine line! Let’s look at Matthew 22:41-46:
“Tell me,” [Jesus] said, “what do you think about the Christ. Whose son is he?” They said to him, “David’s.” He said to them, “How is it then that David is inspired to call him Lord?
The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
till I put your enemies
under your feet.
If David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one could make any answer to him.
Can’t you just see them all with their mouths gaping open, staring blankly into the distance? Harold explains:
In this passage, Jesus presents the issue that the Lord, the Christ, is not the Son of David, which is to say, is not as the Judaic concept holds the Christ to be, but is something other and more deeply interfused in man, something that David, too, knew within himself: MY Lord. Thus, the Christ must be Lord addressing Lord, Son addressing Son, man speaking to man.
Jesus understood that “the Lord” of which the prophets spoke reflected not an outside power, but an unknown power within, a power and authority apart from their personalities – and thus, He spoke not of “himself” as a personality:
“Were I to glorify myself, my glory would be nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me; you say ‘He is our God,’ but you do not understand him.” John 8:54
Man is looking for Messiah to come from without to save him. And Jesus tells us we do not understand God. No wonder mouths gape open when Jesus speaks! The title of Messiah was not sufficient for Jesus…
William Neil says that Jesus avoided this title because “It had too many ambiguous associations. To the crowd it meant the purveyor of peace and plenty, to the anti-Roman it meant political and military leadership, to the devout it meant a supernatural judge,” but Jesus saw himself as servant, calling Himself “Son of Man,” which Neil sees as the “deepest mystery of all.”
Jesus clarified the nature and equipresence of the Christ in clarifying the Reign of God which was held to be the earthly reign of Christ, Messiah. He says, “The Reign of God is not coming as you hope to catch sight of it; no one will say, ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is,’ for the Reign of God is now in your midst.” Thereby, He severed His message completely from Judaic Messianic eschatology, saying in effect: the Christ is now reigning in your midst, in the kingdom of God within you. At another time He says:
And no man hath ascended up to heaven,
but he that came down from heaven,
even the Son of man
which is in heaven.
Here speaks the poet, perfectly combining the truth in one word, implied, which is equally right in any of the word’s meanings: even means “to divide perfectly in equal portions,” as well as meaning “just now present.” Each man must accept for himself that of God which is represented by the name Jesus called Himself. Jesus… presents Son of man as an inward power presently operative within man, “in heaven,” the kingdom “within you.”
But Judaic Messianic hope remains. Modern day Judaism is still looking for their Messiah. Christians await the second coming of Jesus. Even though Jesus brought the truth that the kingdom of God is within, THE SHINING STRANGER concludes that Jesus was not historical Messiah, that there was one prophecy concerning Messiah that Jesus did not and could not fulfill in its every aspect, a prophecy that no man can fulfill. We will look at this prophecy, which reveals what Judaic Messiah is and how it is to come, in my next post. Until then, peace…