Based on Jan 2 Readings: Genesis 2, Matthew 2, Ezra 2, Acts 2
There are few things that I remember from my early childhood in the Philippines, but there is one memory I have that is just a little strange. Keeping in mind that I was probably 6-years-old, I used to fantasize of travelling back in time to Jesus’s crucifixion and, with M-16 rifles in hand, I would free Jesus and be the hero to save Christianity.
Obviously this childhood fantasy has some glaring theological problems. But I think it is indicative of a way that most people see themselves in light of the stories in the Bible, that is, they see themselves as the hero. Actually it isn’t just through the Bible that people see themselves with much more grandeur than would probably have been the case. Ask someone to transplant themselves anywhere in history and more often than not, they would transplant themselves as the hero figure: the brave soldier who saved the day during the war, one of the 300 “Spartans” who fought King Xerxes, -insert any of the major Biblical figures here.
In a way, it is understandable that this would be the case. After all, the stories we tend to hear about are these stories of granduer. But of course, had we been alive in that moment in the past, there is a very small chance that we would have lived out such greatness. Most likely, this could simply mean that we would have simply been passive nobodies in history. But the scary thought is, that we could be very well have been actively part of a crowd enabling evil to take place.
Case in point: Matthew 2. In this chapter, the Wise Men from the East visit King Herod and inadvertently “warn” him about a “new king of Israel” that would arise. This not only “troubled” him, but interestingly, “all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:2, ESV). I remember being struck by this sentence, especially because in most collations of Jesus’s birth narrative, Herod seems to be the sole evil character who would even kill babies just to protect his hold on the throne. In fact, it would seem from Matthew that all of Jerusalem was troubled along with him, and while they may not have participated in the killing spree that Herod instituted, they were apparently comfortable and content enough in their situation under the Roman Empire that they were troubled by a supposed “Messiah” who would disrupt that situation.
I won’t get into further detail, although there is a lot more to explore! Suffice it to say that in the Birth Narrative of Christ, where we would have liked to see ourselves as Mary or Joseph, or a Shepherd, or a Wise Men, it is overwhelmingly likely that we would have been part of Jerusalem who were troubled at the prospect of another “King of Israel” along with Herod.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but such is the depths of sin. The fact of the matter is, that before we were reconciled to God by the Gospel, we were his enemies (Rom. 5:10). The hope is, of course, that once we have been reconciled, we would be used by God in ways we cannot even fathom, both big and small. Another case in point: Peter. Peter was an incredibly disappointing character in the Gospels. Peter indeed recognizes Jesus’s glory and his own sinfulness (Luke 5:8), is handpicked by Jesus to be one of his disciples, and then recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (Luke 9:20). But then he goes on to doubt Jesus while walking on water (Matt. 14:31) and of course, ultimately betrays Jesus by denying him after he was arrested. And yet, here in Acts 2, we find that Peter finally has the courage to stand up for what he believes.
It’s an incredible transformation. One that is only possible with the power of Christ living in and through us. A transformation that can us from being troubled by the Messiah to effective ministers of his Grace.
My wife and I are reading through the Bible in 2020. We are following along with TGC’s 2020 plan, which goes through D.A. Carson’s For The Love of God Vol. 1 book/M’Cheyne’s 1-Year Plan. And as we are preparing to go back to Canada, and I prepare to go back into Full Time ministry, I realized I really needed to get used to writing again. So this is what this blog is about. Planning on at least 52 blogs, but hoping for more.