THE PASSION OF OUR LORD
DETAILING THE EVENTS OF OUR LORD’S SUFFERING AND DEATH
Session #2 (Most quotes are NIV)
JEWISH EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THE COMING MESSIAH
The Biblical Messiah was not the Savior whom they prayed would come to them. They had been taught to expect something far different, and they hoped he would come soon. Their land had been for many years a place of bloody conflict and turmoil, hardship and oppression, foreign kings and rulers, armies killing, looting and enslaving the citizenry. What were they hoping for? It was a mix of the Old Testament prophets and some wishful thinking!
#1 The Spirit of God would return to the land.
This was Biblical! The Spirit of God had been withdrawn from them. No prophets existed to encourage them. But God’s Holy Spirit would return. They pointed to Bible passages like these:
- Isaiah 40:3-4 “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged placed a plain.’
- Malachi 3:1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come…”
- Malachi 4:5-6 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Remember this last passage because it will play an important role in our story!
#2 The Messiah would be a son of David (from David’s lineage)
2 Samuel 7 (especially verses 11-13) points to David’s lineage. This is a fascinating play on words in the Old Testament. David wants to build a house (a temple) for God. Nathan the prophet is told by God to tell David that God will build HIM a house (a royal dynasty) instead. Here are Nathan’s words: “The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
Therefore, the expected Messiah would be in David’s line—a “son of David!”
#3 The Messiah would not be divine—he would be a human, empowered by God
They thought that the Spirit of God would be with the Messiah. They probably never imagined that God would become a man, even though the Old Testament indicates it subtly. Here is Biblical support that God’s Spirit would empower the Messiah:
- Isaiah 11:1-3 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord, and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
Now compare that with what happened to Jesus:
- Matthew 3:16 “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.”
- Luke 4:1-2 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,where for forty days he was temptedby the devil.”
But what about the “divine” aspect? Was this Biblical? Should they have seen it? Jesus castigates his enemies and completely stumps them in this passage:
Matthew 22:43-45 “He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ’Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?’” AND…
Isaiah 7:14 “The virginwill conceive and give birth to a son, andwill call him Immanuel.”
#4 The Messiah would be righteous, ruling justly as God’s agent
The true Messiah would be a Covenant King who fulfilled God’s Law. There were two types of Kings described in the Bible: The Covenant King and the Canaanite-style King. We find the descriptions in the following Old Testament passages:
Excerpts from Deuteronomy 17:15-19 describe the Covenant King: “…be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses…. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself… He must not take many wives… He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law… and he is to read it all the days of his life….” You can read further in Deuteronomy about this Covenant King.
I Samuel 8:11-18 Here’s some excerpts of God’s warning about a Canaanite King: “He will take your sons and make them serve….Some he will assign your sons…to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war….He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves…He will take a tenth of your grain….When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Read the passage completely, but you get the idea: the Prophet Samuel passes on to the Jewish people God’s warning about the type of King they were asking for. He’ll steal your land, tax you to death and make slaves of you! The Messiah/King would undo all these things!
#5 The Messiah would be a destroyer!
Part of the Messiah’s job would be to destroy all the “undesirables” who had no part in the coming Kingdom of God. All the sinners must die! This included all non-Jews, the wicked Jews, the tax-collectors (they worked for the Romans), the shepherds, prostitutes, camel drivers (they worked on the Sabbath), people like tanners who worked with dead animals, etc.
This was not exactly Biblical, but it seems to have been on the rabbi “wish-list”!
#6 The Messiah would begin a new age: Heaven on earth!
You will never understand the Holy Land of Jesus’ time unless you see it under the threat of drought and famine almost every year. When famine comes, it usually comes for three years at a time. The people live a precarious way of life under the threat of starvation.
Naturally they hoped the Messiah would cure this problem. It was expected that he would turn the land into a Garden of Eden with food aplenty, no need to work, and all illness and disease eliminated. Some of this was ridiculous, but some of it was Biblical (Read Isaiah 35 and 42 as examples) Jesus responded to John the Baptist’s question “Are you the Messiah we are looking for?” with Biblical affirmation: Luke 7:17-33 “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Just as the Old Testament had predicted!
God would be ruling as the King (a theocracy), with everyone obeying his laws and commandments through the earthly Messiah’s dictates. Was this on earth or in heaven?
#7 At some point, righteous non-Jews would get to share in all this.
The rabbis were not that excited about this idea, but they knew that Isaiah 60:3 and other passages said this would happen “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” So mostly it became “We’ll worry about that later. First things first!”
Those who wish to learn more about these Messianic Expectations can read The Servant-Messiah, A Study of the Public Ministry of Jesus by T.W. Manson, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, reprint 1977. (Out of print, but Amazon has it under $10)