31 March 2012

Lord's Supper Devotion: Jesus – The Promised Messiah

Devotion presented at church 4 March 2012:

Matt 12:9-16: And having departed thence, he went to their (the Pharisee’s) synagogue, and lo, there was a man having the hand withered, and they questioned him, saying, `Is it lawful to heal on the sabbaths?' that they might accuse him.

And he said to them, `What man shall be of you, who shall have one sheep, and if this may fall on the sabbaths into a ditch, will not lay hold on it and raise it ? How much better, therefore, is a man than a sheep? --so that it is lawful on the sabbaths to do good.'
Then saith he to the man, `Stretch forth thy hand,' and he stretched it forth, and it was restored whole as the other.

And the Pharisees having gone forth, held a consultation against him, how they might destroy him, and Jesus having known, withdrew thence, and there followed him great multitudes, and he healed them all, and did charge them that they might not make him manifest… (YLT)

Then jump down a couple verses:
Matt 12:22-23:  Then was brought to him a demoniac, blind and dumb, and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, `Is this the Son of David?' (YLT)

So, we see the multitude – the simple people, not the haughty Pharisees - were indeed starting to make the connection with this man Jesus being that promised descendent of David, the Messiah. They were fully aware of the prophecies in Isaiah stating

Isa 35:4-6: Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert… (ESV)

On an earlier occasion even Jesus himself, rather than just saying he was the Messiah, used these references back to Isaiah to bring to mine what they have been waiting for all these years, like when John sent people to ask Jesus about it.

Matt. 11:2-6: Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, “YEP, I SURE AM”

No, instead of just telling them he was the one, he brought back to their mind just what it was they were looking for all this time, to prove that his works were in fact proof of who he was. He told them:

"Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”(ESV)

Jesus here is of course referring back again to the prophet Isaiah.

In Acts, we are told the story of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the prophet Isaiah (53:7 to be more exact). Philip jumped up into the chariot with him and:

Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Later we find the instance where after Jesus’ resurrection, he was walking with the two men on the way to Emmaus who did not recognize him. After a few moments of speaking he condemns them sharply:

"O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26)

Then he opens the Scriptures to them:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.  (And their response) They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:27, 32)

Does your heart burn within you as you read the Scriptures? As many of us are on the yearly reading plan, most of those plans have us reading currently in the Hebrew Scriptures – the very Scriptures Jesus used to proclaim himself to the masses; the same ones that the Apostles used to preach the gospel story and the Messiah. We should not blow through these Hebrew books thinking they are a bunch of history – for they contain the heart of the good news.

As I am sure you all know, the word gospel means good news – and the news that was so good to them in the first century, was that the one that was promised so many centuries earlier, the one coming that would save the people – that one had finally arrived – and the promised salvation was now being fulfilled. The good news is the actual end of the very long story throughout of the Hebrew Scriptures; a whole story we cannot simply gloss over as pretty much irrelevant, like many in the modern church seen to think.

I encourage you all in your reading, to be diligent to read and study to understand what the Hebrews knew and understood about the coming messiah – for it is that Messiah that we now sit at this table to partake with.