Sunday, February 06, 2011

Recognizing Jesus as the Christ: Easier Now or Then?

Many people revere Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind, as well as the Son of God. Do you think it's easier for us today, than for those that lived during the time of Christ's mortal ministry, to recognize him as the Savior of the world?

On the first Sabbath day following Christ's arrival at the age of 30, he stood in the synagogue to read a particular prophecy of Isaiah:
The aSpirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath banointed me to cpreach the dgospel to the epoor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to fpreach gdeliverance to the hcaptives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at iliberty them that are bruised, 

aTo preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

New Testament, Luke 4:18-19
Using that opportunity, Jesus identified himself as the subject of that prophecy. "This day is this scripture afulfilled in your ears," he announced.

As I read this passage today, it occurred to me that people may actually not have been too surprised to hear Jesus declare himself as the Messiah.

Previously in the same chapter of Luke, we are told that it was customary for Jesus to attend the synagogue each sabbath and to "st[an]d up for to read"--to teach from the scriptures.

 His contemporaries must surely have noticed something unique about the personality of a man who had never committed sin.  We don't know much about the first 30 years of Christ's life, but, besides knowing that he was a well-known speaker in the synagogue, we do know a few other interesting insights into his life that would have made it reasonably easy--for those who were looking--to identify their Redeemer.

When he was 12 years old, Christ was found in the temple astonishing the learned elders with his understanding of eternal truths.

He was one of perhaps only two young boys aged two and under who survived the murderous decree of King Herod.

It had been prophesied by Isaiah that a virgin would conceive and bear the Son of God.  It must have been somewhat known that Mary claimed to have been that virgin when she conceived and bore Jesus.

Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was not able to speak until after he named his newborn son.  When his mouth was once again opened, Zacharias prophesied of the Christ and that his son was to be the forerunner of Christ. 

On at least one occasion when Christ fed thousands from seemingly nothing, many of them recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Would we have been overly surprised at Christ's announcement in the synagogue that day of his personal mission to save the world? Probably not. If we believe now, I think it would have been even easier to believe then.

3 comments:

  1. You forgot about the time when Jesus was a boy and made a bunch of little clay animals and birds, and then brought them to life to amuse the other children, or the time that he struck another boy dead for bumping into him, or how about that time he killed a fig tree simply for not bearing figs.

    Any enlightened spiritual leader could easily say "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". That really does seem enlightened.

    On the other hand, if you're honest with yourself, what would you really think if you saw some malcontent being executed (y'know, some guy that had a prior conviction for going postal in a supermarket, trashing the place and hitting all the employees with a whip designed especially for torture) that said, "I totally have the power to prevent them from killing me, I just choose not to stop them...I really am all-powerful, and can save everyone in the whole world, but it's not part of the plan for me to save myself", and then you watch him die over the next few hours.

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  2. Bennett: A very angry analysis. Why?

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  3. Interestingly enough, all the"examples" you cite were written long after Jesus died, and written by men whose purpose in writing was to convince their readers that Jesus was the Christ. When scholars examine the gospels without preconceptions or prejudices, they find that virtually all the stories about Jesus' life are most likely fictional, and only a fraction of the words he is supposed to have said are original.

    It is clear that modern people are as easily convinced of the veracity of supernatural myths as the people of the first century. In fact, now that the Jesus myths are shrouded in the distant past and there is a two-thousand year tradition of believing them to be true, it's probably easier now to believe than it was then.

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