There is an extensive agreement among Christians, about Jesus being the Messiah of humanity. But what does that denote to ordinary humans, in this life? The term “Messiah” implies salvaging humanity out of bondage. The significance of this remark lies in understanding the kind of bondage referred to. Unless aware of the condition of bondage affecting humanity, it cannot be possible to envisage the relevance of the Messiah.
The futurists look forward to the second coming of Jesus, anticipated as would establish God’s Kingdom. The sick put their hope in Jesus, for deliverance from their respective conditions of illness. The poor place their hope in Jesus taking them out of their abject poverty condition. The oppressed, pray day and night, for God’s intervention, so that their days of oppression may be shortened.
The list of problems affecting humanity cannot be exhausted. The majority of people in the modern Christian world are sustained by hope, anticipating God’s Kingdom to reverse all problems of humanity. While true that God’s Kingdom, removes all difficulties, there is a need to dissect the Messianic role of Jesus. What remains elusive to most people is that physical problems are not included in the messianic package found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus healed the sick, during His time on earth. Jesus can still be trusted to heal the sick in our present time, including the alleviation of many other challenges faced by physical humans. Through His name, the paraplegic people continue to be healed and many other miracles in His name are consistently evident. But all such manifestations are not descriptive of the Messianic role of Jesus.
The popularity of Jesus electrified the Galilean region and rapidly spread abroad, so that even today, His popularity continues to grip humanity. People love Jesus who they never saw, except taking it from the recorded Scriptures. However, that popularity, exhilarating as it may, carries no significance in Jesus’ Messianic project. Hence, He often discouraged those zealously seeking to follow Him.
Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27 NIV)
Why did Jesus not take advantage of multitudes following Him, if His messianic role was to deliver people from their physical challenges? If physical humanity was that important, why did Jesus allow Himself to be treated badly, at the cross? His disciples are traditionally accredited as having died in the hands of mockers and outright sinners. Why did Jesus allow that to happen to His own disciples, if His Messianic role had something to do with rescuing their physical nature?
Jesus had compassion for the suffering humanity, but He did not display the appetite for delivering humanity from such tragic conditions. Deliverance would not be of God, if not coming at the right time. God’s methods are conducted with precision. Nothing happens without God’s timing. But time applies to humanity only and not to God. In other words, nothing happens without having been designed by God at the beginning, to fulfil the projected accomplishment.
The teachings of Jesus were not intended for ordinary people, and that truth is as effective as it was at the beginning. The Holy Bible cannot be understood by ordinary humans. Jesus’ name may be popular with anyone performing miracles in Jesus’ name, to attract millions. But all that carries no relevance in His Messianic assignment. While Jesus revealed the hidden mysteries of God’s Kingdom to His disciples, He avoided doing so, to ordinary people.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”(Mark 4:10-12 NIV)
Those of this world can’t understand mysteries of God’s Kingdom. Allowing them to receive those mysteries without God’s intervention, would condemn them to their sins. In other words, those people should lose their physical lives than to lose their spiritual lives. The manifestation of the condemnation of the physical flesh was portrayed in Jesus on the cross.
In giving reasons for teaching in parables, Jesus said He did not want ordinary people to understand, lest they be forgiven. They were supposed to benefit from His miraculous escapades, but they were not supposed to be forgiven. The reason lies in that His Messianic mission had nothing to do with the physical problems of humanity. He was moved with compassion, each time He met those begging for healing services. But all that had nothing to do with His Messianic mission.
The vociferous crowds calling for His crucifixion included those who had benefitted from His healing services. Undoubtedly, the majority of those demanding that Barabbas be freed in place of Jesus had had their relatives healed, by the same Jesus. Rather than celebrate the existence of a man with such powers, in their midst, the popular call was that Jesus should be crucified.
It is easy to place all the blame on religious leaders, assumed as responsible for causing people to behave in that manner. However, each man stands to answer for his own sins, without having to place blame on others, similarly created in God’s image. This may be one of the secrets, profoundly hidden to ordinary humans, but nevertheless, true.
Christians are said to be of Abraham’s seed. This does not refer to the genetic lineage of Abraham. It refers to the condition of Abraham, in his relationship with God. Abraham was called as an individual. While true that Abraham travelled with his wife, his servants and his nephew Lot, his calling was individualistic. It was physically convenient to travel with the rest of the entourage, but God was working with Abraham, as an individual.
The test of offering his son for a burnt offering could not be shared with his wife, for obvious reasons. His wife served on physical matters but may have been a liability on spiritual matters. One of such inconveniences was portrayed when Sarah encouraged Abraham to take the maidservant for a wife, leading to Ishmael’s birth. Christians are called as individuals, without considering other People’s behavior.
Before delving into the actual Messianic principle of Jesus, let us consider the condition of coexistence among humans. It may come as a surprise to many people that, even among Christians, the promotion of one among them is considered a threat. The story of Joseph shows a young man who escaped death, after sharing his miraculous dreams with His elder brothers.
Rather than celebrate God’s blessing, Joseph’s brothers figured out that the best idea was to eliminate Joseph’s life. Their common agenda was to make Joseph their enemy. The definition of an enemy suggests hostility, aiming at causing injury to one. However, the plot to kill Joseph was planned at a time when Joseph had been delivering food to his brothers. They envisaged enmity, even though Joseph had been delivering food for their wellbeing.
Another example is that of King Saul, unable to sleep, because of the existence of David. Saul’s archenemy had been killed by David. However, this did not please Saul, envisaging the possibility of David’s ascendance to power. Even though David had not provoked Saul, David had to spend the next twenty-five years as a fugitive, evading King Saul’s schemes to kill him.
This drama is well-articulated in the Book of 1 Samuel Chapter 17 to Chapter 31. King Saul died a bitter man, disturbed by a young man who defeated a giant from his Philistine enemies. Had David not come forward, the entire nation of Israel could have been eliminated or enslaved to the Philistines. Rather than give glory to God for providing a young man of David’s stature, King Saul felt threatened.
The two examples above highlight an example of the common behavior of humanity. Some people may accurately depict wrongness in Joseph’s brothers’ attitudes, including that of King Saul. However, there is nothing uncommon with that kind of behavior. Humanity is stuck, unaware of what causes that kind of behavior. Only a handful can claim to have a different attitude.
We live in a world where the invalidation of other fellow humans is considered normal. In Zimbabwe, women reject the idea of elevating their fellow women to positions of authority. This does not even consider the fact that men have a propensity to abuse women. Other women take offence, observing one of them accorded responsibility in male-dominated positions, in Church or government.
In all sectors of humanity, rarely do ordinary people appreciate that all humans are equal. Rather than encourage and support the considered weak, the innovative blacks are labelled as puppets of the West. It is, actually, those of one’s close relative who are unwilling to accept a promotion to one of their own. Jesus explicitly highlighted this reality, after His relatives had rejected Him.
When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home”(Mark 6:2-4 NIV)
Sadly, Jesus had to stop conducting mighty works in that community. Their only benefit was the preservation of their ego after Jesus resolved to stop miraculous works among them. Most probably, the majority of them died with their ego still intact. They could not stand watching Jesus torment them with miracles that portrayed Him as greater than them. A scrutiny reveals pride being the real cause of such a bad feeling, more than anything else.
Jesus avoided insisting on portraying Himself as the Messiah to such people. He allowed them to remain in their ego, thereby, extending His teachings elsewhere. Resisting the light in Jesus is allowed by God, for self-determinism. There is a hidden humanity with which God communicates, in all humans. That hidden human is not physical, as unrelated to physical humans.
Jesus appeared as surprised by those despising Him; but not condemning them for such an awful conduct. He simply avoided providing the mysteries of God’s Kingdom to them. If unable to handle simple things of this life, how could they handle the majestical mysteries of God’s Kingdom? The Bible portrays such behavior as emanating from the sinful nature of humanity. But how are humans affected when appearing unaware of such toxic conduct?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”(Matthew 18:1-6 KJV)
What Jesus said was not directed at ordinary humans. This is one of those Scriptures, considered unreasonable; rightly so, as the message, therein, is not directed to ordinary humans. The few people, able to understand, are not of this world. Although living in this world, those people are not of this world, just as Jesus was not of this world.
The Messianic principle of Jesus aims at addressing the spiritual component of humanity, rather than the physical component. It is impossible to salvage the spiritual component, without sacrificing the physical component. The unfortunate thing is that most people seek to sacrifice the spiritual component, to salvage the physical component. A good farmer separates corn from husks, at winnowing, but not sacrificing corn, to salvage husks.
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 NIV)
Better is a man caught in total ignorance and accepting being in such a condition. This is different from a person pretending to know the unknown. There is no danger in ignorance, just as there is no danger in knowledge. The problem lies in assuming to know what one doesn’t know or assuming not to know what one knows already. A careful person would take hid of such mementoes.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those who have witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99