One of the most interesting things to me is the response of the people when John the Baptist tells them – here is the Messiah! Think about this, at the time the people were desperate for the Messiah. There were a number of people who tried to be the Messiah and failed. The expectation was so strong that it was known throughout the Roman world and beyond. The wise men who came probably knew of the expectation and this was part of the reason they went.
Then John goes out and starts baptising and saying, ‘The Kingdom is near, the Messiah is on his way!’ People flock to hear him. They respond to his words telling them to repent and be baptised. The leaders in Jerusalem send people to find out who is he and what he is doing (John 1:19). Is he the Messiah?
He tells everybody who will listen that he isn’t the Messiah but that he has come to show who the Messiah is. And then when the Messiah comes, He goes – ‘there, that guy is the Messiah’. Then nobody seems to care! Everybody is waiting for the Messiah, they all accept John as someone, and yet nobody seems to notice Jesus – the real Messiah. Why?
I suspect it has to do with the expectations of who the Messiah should be. There were plenty of verses about the Messiah that people could quote. When the wise men came to Jerusalem, the leaders knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He was to be the son of David and restore the kingdom. Yet when the Messiah came, and was pointed out to them, nobody recognised him.
The Jews needed their understanding of the Messiah reshaped. There was little of the idea of the suffering servant in their expectations. However this reshaping starts at Jesus’ baptism. Here Jesus is both the beloved son and conquering king of Ps 2 as well as the suffering servant with whom God is well pleased in Isa 42.
It makes me wonder how my understanding of the Messiah needs to be reshaped. What verses do I emphasis over others? What parts of his character do I emphasis over others? How do I misunderstand the Messiah?