What I’m Thinking: Messiahship

Entering Jerusalem in the way he did, Jesus not only declared himself to be Messiah – he also declared what Messiahship was.

Here’s a transcript:

With Palm Sunday just ahead, I’m thinking about the eleventh chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 11:1-11), Mark’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding upon a borrowed colt.

There’s a lot of reference to older Scriptures in this account. The people quote from Psalm 118: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.” The selection of a colt; well, that was an echo of Zechariah chapter nine, how the king of Israel was coming, humble and riding upon a colt.

The crowds, the noise, the waving of branches, all of this activity, well: It was pretty much unmissable, wasn’t it? It would have gained the attention of all of the local officials. It would have gained the attention of the Roman Governor. And it certainly gained the attention of the priests and the local nobility as this Galilean preacher and teacher entered – entered the city of Jerusalem echoing ancient symbols of royalty.

There are many who believe that it was, in fact, this way of entering into Jerusalem that kicked off the effort to see that Jesus was arrested and convicted and executed as soon as possible, before something even more dreadful happened.

Jesus, however, I think was engaged not in a declaration of Messiahship in the way that most would have understood it at the time. Jesus was engaged in redefining Messiahship. Yes, he rode in on a colt echoing the ninth chapter of Zechariah. The thing is that there were abundant Scriptures that talk about the entry of the king into the city in much more grandiose ways. Jesus could have chosen any one of those.

I can just imagine some of his disciples asking him, “A colt? You want a colt? How about we find you a horse. You’d look better on a horse. Everybody looks better on a horse.”

But no. It was a colt.

Messiahship, the Anointed One, the Chosen One of God, could have been and indeed many continued to believe that it would be and should be, a political and military leader, a religious leader to cleanse the brokenness of the religious system, but also one to overthrow the occupying Romans and restore the classical government, the monarchy of the realm of Israel. Jesus, however, wanted his anointing to be for something else: for healing for forgiveness, for restoration of relationship between human beings and God. It was a mission that he chose to follow even to a cross. It was a mission that led him also to emerge from an empty tomb.

There were others in the decades that followed that did, in fact, attempt to declare themselves to be the Anointed One, the Messiah, to overthrow the Romans and to restore the nation of Israel. All of those attempts failed. As a result, Jews today have a radically different notion of what a Messiah will look like than Jesus’ contemporaries did two thousand years ago.

For Jesus himself, the Anointed One came to restore the people to their God. And that is indeed why we shout with so much joy: “Hosanna to the one who comes in the name of the LORD!”

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on March 22, 2021

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