They missed it.
Apologies for playing the pronoun game which exists only to artificially heighten the drama.
The religious professionals, the Jewish populace at large in Israel in the 1st Century missed the Messiah. The biggest event in their redemptive history and it seems like barely a London telephone box full of people stumbled onto the truth because Jesus said that the Father revealed it to them.
The majority were seemingly closed to the idea.
They had the advantage of the Scriptures, the promises, and still He was barely recognized. What a missed opportunity!
Would I have been one of those handful that recognized him? I’m fairly sure I know the answer to be no.
There is so much that I don’t know about God. In fact, who can ever know enough? I’ve barely scratched the atomic surface but what I do know is that God is not merely written about in a book, but personal. Accessible by anyone who is looking in His direction. I also know that theology is like a rock-star waiting to be discovered, like the coolest music from your youth that you didn’t know existed and you discover a trove of audio cassettes and a rainy weekend with time on your hands.
I find myself realizing that it is possible to miss awesome things about Christ because I’m not paying attention, because I haven’t done my homework, because I haven’t asked the right questions. It’s all there in front of me, just like it was for the people who missed the significance of His coming two millennia ago.
I realize that small things can make a big difference. Having the right motive. A quote I read somewhere this week:
“Here lies the supreme missionary motivation. It is neither obedience to the Great Commission, nor compassion for the lost, nor excitement over the gospel, but zeal (even “jealousy”) for the honor of Christ’s name….No incentive is stronger than the longing that Christ should be given the honor that is due his name.” (John Stott)
In my raw opinion on the subject, Paul the apostle had all three of these motivations simultaneously. He was a very driven guy.
Paul spoke ceaselessly of the gospel and the importance of preaching it.
Paul also had a profound outreach to the Gentiles but at the same time had a relentlessly abiding love for his fellow Jews, that they too would finally embrace Christ.
Paul’s core motivation however seems to have been that Christ would be exalted.
I was thinking about the Lord’s prayer this week, in part because I realized I hadn’t prayed it in some time, but also because it is a perfect summary of what we ought to pray for. Of course it would be because the Lord taught us to pray it.
After addressing ‘Our Father in heaven’ the first thing we pray for is that His name would be praised, that his kingdom would come and his will be done.
Its counter-intuitive for people to put Him first, it goes without saying. Listening to the lyrics of a Big Daddy Weave song this week, I was struck by the opening idea: the lyricist writes of ‘my story’ actually being about Him.
That’s a very Pauline thing, a motive that is primarily about His glory. That’s something I don’t want to miss.