The Expectations about Jesus
by Jeff Curtis
When the Old Testament prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, the Jewish world had certain expectations of what this Messiah would be and what he would do. They eagerly waited for this Messiah from God.
By the time Jesus finally came, anticipation about the coming of the Messiah was at an extremely high level. This can be seen in the excitement of Simeon and Anna, who welcomed the baby Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:25-38). Simeon had been looking for “the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Anna talked about Jesus “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
The coming of the Messiah was evidently a popular subject of discussion. Details of His life were known: He would be a descendant of David (Matt. 22:42); He would be born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:5,6; John 7:42). Tied in with the discussion concerning the Messiah was speculation about His forerunner (John 1:21; Matt.16:14). False Messiahs had apparently arisen, fanning the hopes of the people. Jesus told His disciples that this would happen after His departure (Matt. 24:23-24), and most scholars believe it also happened before His birth.
With all the anticipation of His coming, the words of John may be hard to understand: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). The rejection of Jesus by the Jews in general and by Jewish leaders in particular is a prominent theme in the New Testament (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 17:25; Acts 4:11; 1Peter 2:4,7). Why was Jesus not accepted as the long-awaited Messiah?
Basically, Jesus was rejected because He didn’t fit the Jews’ preconceived concept of the Messiah. The Old Testament taught that the Messiah was to be a God-sent King (Isa. 9:6-7) from the royal line of David (Psa. 89:3-4). The Old Testament also taught that the Messiah was to be a suffering servant (Psa. 22:1-21; Isa. 53:1-12), but prophecies of this nature were largely ignored. It was clear in the minds of the Jewish people that they needed a strong political and military leader to defeat the Romans and re-establish the kingdom of Israel as it had been in the days of David and Solomon. A Christ who said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) would not do. Jesus was a “round peg” that didn’t fit into the “square hole” that His people had conceived for the Messiah.
by Heath Rogers
I was sending a message to a preacher friend in the Philippines this week and spoke of the non-official “stay-home order” given by our governor to help curb the spread of the corona virus. However, when typing in my message, I accidentally wrote the words “stay-hope.” While I quickly made the correction, I got to thinking - hasn’t God given us a “stay-hope” order for this pandemic?
The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were tired of suffering for their new faith and wanted to return to observing the Law of Moses. The writer exhorted them to weather the temporary storm of suffering and remain faithful to Christ.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:19-20).
An anchor is thrown into the water and fixed on something solid. This connection keeps the boat from drifting off course or crashing into the rocks.
Hope is our anchor. Confident expectation of receiving God’s protection and God’s promises keeps us from being blown off course and shipwrecking our faith during the storms of life. Our hope keeps us connected to God, because it is anchored to “the Presence behind the veil” (the very presence of God in Heaven).
This pandemic rages on, but God’s “stay-hope” order remains. Maintain a firm grip on your anchor and keep your harbor light shining. This storm will end.
Triumph over Opposition
by Jeff Curtis
The confident faith of God’s people often leads them to triumph over worldly opposition. After all of the conflict with the Philistines over wells, Isaac returned to Beersheba, where the earlier Abimelech and Phicol came looking for a non-aggressive treaty with his father Abraham, because they realized God was with him (Genesis 21:22-32). At this point, because the Lord appeared to Isaac to offer confidence that He was with him and would bless and multiply his descendants for the sake of His servant Abraham (Genesis 26:24). Out of gratitude for this divine reassurance, Isaac built an altar and worshiped the Lord.
Not long after this theophany, Isaac was approached by Abimelech and his men, who wanted to make a treaty with him. The arrival of the Philistines surprise Isaac because he thought that they hated him and had intentionally driven him away to the fringes of their territory (Genesis 26:27). In truth, they had decided Isaac was growing so strong that he posed a real threat to them. They pretended ignorance of any wrongdoing and replied, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you” (Genesis 26:28). This last statement indicated that the Philistines realized Isaac’s prosperity and strength were due to the God’s blessing him in spite of all that they could do to hinder him. Therefore, they wanted a sworn oath and a mutual nonaggression treaty (covenant), so they could live in peace with this foreigner and his people (Genesis 26:28-29). With the Philistines’ desire expressed, Isaac was obviously relieved. He shared a feast with them, and it concluded with an exchange of covenant oaths. Then the Philistines left and returned to Gerar (Genesis 26:30-31).
Some might criticize Isaac’s behavior as cowardly with regard to the Philistines, since he didn’t stand up for his rights. Several times, they stopped up his wells or seized wells that his men had recently dug. The natural response might have been to strike back at these Philistines. However, Isaac didn’t retaliate; rather, he turned the other cheek, as was much as was taught by Jesus in Matthew 5:39. By not paying back evil for evil, he actually overcame evil with good (Romans 12:17-21). The wise man affirmed that there is “a time for war and time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8). Isaac proved that this was definitely not the time for war; his peaceful actions resulted in a treaty that guaranteed him, his people, and his animals the right to the wells and pasture without the Philistines interfering. The Lord blessed them so they could maintain a peaceful existence in the land of Canaan. Because Isaac sought peace, his ways were “pleasing to the Lord,” (Proverbs 16:7). In this way, Isaac’s response to his antagonists was a precursor to the teachings of Jesus and Paul.
Forgive Without Limits
by Joe R. Price
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22, NKJV)
Repeatedly forgiving one who has sinned against us is not easy. It requires faith to do as Jesus said (limitless forgiveness). He went on to describe God’s forgiveness is driven by compassion, not withheld due to wearisome repetition. Such unceasing forgiveness means our hearts must be filled with the love, mercy, and longsuffering of God. It requires a generous, sympathetic heart toward the sinner and the struggles against sin to repeatedly forgive when wronged. Oh, the magnitude of God’s repeated forgiveness of us and our sins against Him! As God forgives us, we are to forgive others (Matt. 6:12, 14-15; 18:32-35). The numbers Peter proposed were literal. He thought seven was a perfectly generous amount of times to forgive repeat offenders. Jesus used numbers figuratively (“seventy times seven” does not make the four hundred ninety-first sin beyond our need to forgive). In another place Jesus said, “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:4). Ready, willing, abundant forgiveness is our task of faith when sinned against. We want and need God’s unending compassion and forgiveness (Matt. 18:23-27). Let us not withhold the same from those who sin against us (Matt. 18:28-35).