Is Jesus the Messiah?
Have you ever had to wear a uniform? For many of us the likely answer is yes. It might be a school uniform, scout or cadet uniform, overalls, fatigues, a smart shirt or blouse, a polo-shirt emblazoned with your company logo, or even a cassock (well, perhaps there are only a few of us that wear one of those!) But does wearing that uniform define your vocation or job? For example, if I put on a police uniform does that make me a police officer, or if I dress like a pilot does it mean I can fly? Of course not! So, you could argue that it is not the uniform but the training that defines a vocation or job, however, if I spend a year learning how to connect pipes and put on a boiler suit, does it make me a plumber? Well, yes I am closer to being a plumber, but it is still not enough. It is not the whole story. I need the uniform and I need the training, but I also need to be actually doing it. I need to be working out my job or my vocation. I need to walk the talk.
The same question was levelled at Jesus — not that he was asked if he was a plumber (although he was once asked if he was a gardener as you can read in John’s gospel, Chapter 20), because, you see, the Jewish people were expecting a Messiah to show up and Messiah (or Christ) literally means God’s Anointed One — someone holy and sent by God; someone who would redeem the people of Israel, throw off the chains of oppression, and perhaps even save the whole world. Jesus had been hinting, pretty heavily, that he was this person. Now, Jesus was a rabbi or teacher. He was clearly trained as a rabbi, wore the uniform of a rabbi, and was teaching as a rabbi in the temples and on the streets, however, he claimed to be more than a rabbi. He claimed to be equal with God and the long-awaited Messiah. In fact, it was this apparent blasphemy that enraged the spiritual leaders so much that they wanted him silenced, but however true this claim might be, the claim in itself did not make him the Messiah. On one occasion he was asked, “How long will you keep us dangling? If you’re the Messiah give it to us straight!” but Jesus consistently seemed to dodge answering because he knew that simply making the claim would not be enough.
Jesus knew his calling. He knew he and his Father, as he described it, were ‘one’. He was certainly living out what it meant to be a potential Messiah but, and here is the rub, he would only be the Messiah if he turned out to be. The proof of the pudding would be in the eating. Jesus would only be the Messiah if he saved the world and re-connected humans back to God, therefore, when Jesus was asked if he was the Messiah, his answers frustrated those around him. Jesus said, “I’ve told you that I and the Father are one and the same, and the works I do are the evidence you need,” however, the works of Jesus, incredible as they were, had not yet demonstrated fully who he was called to be. Sent by God, yes, but the Saviour of the world? The people would have to wait and see.
Today, we have hindsight. We can look back on the accounts of this rabbi called Jesus from a backwater town called Nazareth. We can read the accounts of his life, death, and resurrection in four books collected together and dubbed the ‘gospels’ or good news. Many millions of people have read or heard the stories, believed, and discovered that when they put their faith and trust in Jesus they become reconnected to God in a very real and present way. They have discovered that Jesus was and is the Messiah.
For those that know me, I am not very keen on wearing clerical robes, they are just not me, but I do wear my dog-collar from time to time. Did you know why priests wear a dog collar and shirts with hidden buttons down the front? It is to look like we are wearing our shirts back-to-front. Seriously! Wearing a shirt back-to-front is a sign that we are heading in a different direction, and that direction is towards God, however, wearing the uniform does not make me a priest, nor does the nearly eight years of training I undertook. No, I am only a priest if I do my job, and that is to point people towards God, and when asked if Jesus is the Messiah, to smile and reply, “Yes he is! Do you want to meet him?”