Sunday

25 November 2007

Luke 23:33-43

"... the leaders scoffed at him, saying 'He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!' The soldiers also mocked him... saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!' There was also an inscription over him, 'This is the King of the Jews'". (v.35-38)

Background

Jesus is executed. He is mocked by Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers alike as the 'King of the Jews'. But for Luke their mockery tells the truth, for that is exactly who and what he believes Jesus was.

'Messiah' (or 'Anointed One') was the title of the kings of David's line who ruled in Jerusalem for 500 years until the Babylonians destroyed the city and the kingdom in 586BC. There had been a few years of real independence since then but the old monarchy had not been re-established. But was that time coming soon?

That was the mood at the time of Jesus. The Romans were in control of Judea and Galilee and some people were beginning to say that enough was enough. Soon, surely, the new age would dawn?

So some were hoping that God would raise up a new king of David's line, the Messiah, the anointed one, his chosen leader. A number of messianic claimants had already appeared, and disappeared. Jesus was, to the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities, just another one.

Jesus had lived with this all through his ministry. The 'kingdom of God is near' had been a big part of his teaching. Getting ready for the time when God's kingdom would come and his will be done on earth as in heaven had been his challenge. But was he its king in waiting? Many thought so, but Jesus was strangely reticent about making that claim.

Until the end.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in a powerful demonstration that he was its king. He staged another demonstration in the Temple. At the end of the week a cross at the Skull was his throne.

To Ponder

What sort of messiah/king did the people want?

What sort of messiah/king did the people get?

When you pray about contemporary problems in the world, how do you believe God affects these?