Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Anyone want to be saved?

By Rev. Jeff McPheron, Trenton United Methodist Church | Mar 23, 2018

Many prophecies about the Messiah began with Isaiah, about 750 years before Jesus lived as Emmanuel — God with us.

When reading stories of Jesus’ public ministry, you may have noticed that he seldom identified himself as the Messiah. We look at the stories today and wonder why he didn’t. It was true, so why didn’t he simply announce and proceed from there?

It was because there was a difference of interpretation. Some of the prophecies of the Messiah were easier to understand. Others made no sense at all until after Jesus lived, died, was raised from the dead and was interpreted by the Apostles. People grasped the easier prophecies as they hoped in God. Over time, they began to project national desires onto what Messiah would be and do.

The simple truth is that the Messiah was sent to save the Chosen People (and through them, the world). The hearers of the prophecies heard the word “save” and thought about the fact that their neighbors had always been against them and that God had done mighty and powerful things in their history to save them from their enemies.

The hearers knew that they had once been a world power, by God’s design, and they longed to be a world power again. It seemed appropriate that as the Chosen People, there ought to be no undue worldly influence on their existence.

At the time of Christ, his part of the world was a Roman colony, an occupied land. The occupation brought relative peace at the cost of a Roman presence, with Roman taxes and Roman religious influence. While the Chosen People didn’t always practice faithfully, they were aware that they were to worship the one true God, and not any of the gods of their neighbors.

So, while the word “save” seems simple enough, God’s definition concerned saving the world from sin and death. The national hope was that the Chosen People would be saved from the influences of their neighbors.

After hearing of the signs and wonders of Jesus for three years, many were ready to have him be their king, to organize their nation again to be a world power, to push back Rome and all other foreign influences.

When he arrived at Jerusalem that day, in advance of the Passover festival, crowd enthusiasm took over. They knew what they wanted. They thought they knew what he came to bring, so they waved coats and palm branches to welcome him.

Most abandoned Jesus in the week to come when it became clear that he was unable or unwilling to organize to fulfill their hopes. Religious leaders were quick to organize against his threat to their system and rather decisively ended his life.

In the death of Jesus, it is interesting that God used human sin to save humanity from sin.

Wave a palm branch this Sunday to celebrate being saved from death and freed to live!

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