Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30;
It’s no wonder that people of the first century found Jesus hard to pigeonhole. It’s still the same today. He doesn’t fit our expectations. People come with their self-centred hopes and dreams: they seek a God who works for the best interests of their nation, their family, their religion, themselves. It comes as a shock to realize that God works for the best interests of all people. It turned out that the expected Messiah was not the great national hero that the Jews anticipated. His kingdom is not one that relies on popular approval, political standing, military or economic might, but one that is constituted by genuine love. As Revelation 7:17 says, the lamb is king. What a turnaround! If you’re on the right wave length, you’ll hear his call, you’ll know his presence, you will be breathed through with the same Spirit of love that breathed through him. But if not, he remains a conundrum: a significant figure in history maybe, founding authority for the Christian religion, one of the great moral and religious teachers of all time, a miracle worker, but is that all? He claimed to be one with God. To know him is to know the Father, he said. However, for our knowledge of him we are dependent upon what was written in a foreign language, at a distant time, and in a culture different from our own. We need the assistance of scholars and historians to position him within his religious and cultural setting. We see that even in his own time, Jesus was a puzzle to his fellow citizens of Galilee and Judea, one that people could get excited about for all the wrong reasons, an irritating trouble-maker, or one who could be written off as of no great significance. But to realize that he is not just a figure of history, that, as the risen Christ, he is the voice of God speaking hope, salvation and renewal to all people is to have a gospel that is desperately needed today.
- What do people today think of Jesus?
- Jesus relied on actions rather than words to announce him as the Messiah and Son of God. What part then do words play in our witness to him?
- What was Jesus trying to get across when he said that a shepherd’s own sheep respond to their owner’s voice, but other sheep don’t? (John 10:25-28) How is this being played out today?
- Why is the Gospel desperately needed by people today?