Monday, June 14, 2021

Anonymous Asks (149)

“Did Jesus know he was the Messiah?”

Nobody ever displayed a more definite sense of his purpose in this world than Jesus of Nazareth.

We see it in him long before his ministry began. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” he asked his anxious mother. This was not some generalized impression that the people of God ought not to forsake gathering together, but a specific sense that he uniquely belonged where God had placed his name. “I must be.”

He was twelve years old and “about my Father’s business”, as another translation puts it.

Well-Laid Planning

Later, we see unequivocal evidence of well-laid planning coordinated with heaven. At the wedding in Cana he tells his mother his hour “has not yet come”. There was a schedule. When John demurs to baptize him, he replies, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” There were spiritual reasons for every decision he made. Immediately after being declared God’s beloved son by a voice from heaven (surely the purpose of the exercise), he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness specifically “to be tempted by the devil”. He had an appointment, and he wasn’t about to miss it. From the time we begin to glimpse the adult Jesus, there is always a plan.

Then, before most people had even heard of him, he is already training his replacements. “I will make you become fishers of men,” he tells Simon, Andrew, James and John. And then he begins to do it. How could he be so sure of the outcome? He knew the plan.

John the Baptist doubted, but Jesus never did. Imprisoned, he sends word to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” The Lord does not answer him directly, but he points John to all the things the Old Testament prophets had said and written about Messiah. In fulfilling their prophecies, he is giving not just John but the entire nation the answer to that question. It’s not that he had the slightest doubt about who he was and what he was doing, but the time had not yet come to confess his mission explicitly.

Unambiguous Answers

Later on, he was not the least bit ambiguous about it. When the Samaritan woman says to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ),” Jesus replies, “I who speak to you am he.” When Peter confesses him “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he pronounces him blessed, and declares the Father has revealed this profound and critical truth to his disciple. And when the high priest asks him directly, “Are you the Christ?” he responds, “I am.” If we have difficulty interpreting this last answer, the high priest surely did not, tearing his garments and accusing Jesus of blasphemy.

So, yes, there are plenty of liberal theologians who will talk about “dawning Messianic consciousness” and whatnot. But nobody can make a convincing case that from the beginning of his ministry, Jesus did or said anything that was in any way inconsistent with possessing full knowledge of his own identity as God’s Messiah, the fulfillment of all his promises.

The only way I can explain anyone trying it is sheer, unbelieving obduracy.

No comments :

Post a Comment