Non-Christian people made absolutely no sense to me growing up. Who would so willingly reject what seemed to be so obvious? The Christian theology presented a clear and unbridled gift to the afterlife, and the tenants of the religion, as I understood them, were filled completely with love (which I also learned was different from acceptance). Additionally, there seemed to be so much proof for God’s existence as well as Jesus’ sovereignty. The fellowship of church felt to me like the presence of the Holy Spirit – I left church each Sunday feeling a part of something and happy. And as for the “proof” of Jesus, so often I heard, “The prophets predicted the appearance of a Savior, and then Jesus was born.” The Old Testament – at least the portions that were taught to me – felt like a grand prequel setting the stage for the Great Redeemer. It was like The Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings. The second is obviously superior, but the first is equally necessary. After all, things need to be pretty bad in order to get better. And Jesus filled all the criteria laid out in the Old Testament. Jewish people especially confounded me. Why didn’t they get it? Jesus was right in front of them.
Micah drops a quick prophecy for Jesus in the middle of his book. The passage begins with this declaration:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[e] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2 (NIV)
The prophecy goes on to say that this rule will “shepherd his flock” and all “will live securely” (4).
Sounds like Jesus to me!
Additionally, “he will be our peace/when the Assyrians invade our land” (5).
Furthermore, “He will deliver us from the Assyrians/when they invade our land/and march across our borders” (6).
Hm… I don’t recall that…
This is the first time ever that I understand why Jews are unconvinced of Jesus’ sovereignty, and it comes from a historical perspective on what leaders in the Old Testament world were known to do. Let’s remember that men (well, mostly men) of renown so far have performed very specific actions in order to establish the kingdom of God. Abraham literally created a nation that grew into a dynasty. Moses literally led the people from slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Joshua literally took back the Promised Land from foes and established the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. These were fighting men who trekked across the countryside, kicking ass.
And Jesus… did none of those things. I am not commenting on the nature of His actions – I rather prefer His softer hand and preacher’s demeanor – but for the first time, I get the disbelief.
But maybe Jesus brought something better.