“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’” (Luke 23:35 NIV84)
“If He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Just the fact that they would put that in the form of a sentence during Jesus’ crucifixion amazes me. These guys weren’t unbelievers. They were religious guys. They knew of, and were waiting for, the Christ of God (the Chosen One). There He was in front of them, and they missed Him. How is that possible? How could religious men of their caliber miss the one thing their entire religion hinged on? They were expecting a different Messiah! Something changed their expectation over centuries/millenniums of time. But how does the change take place? I believe it is as simple as human beings interpreting, and reinterpreting, verses with new meanings and expectations. If we were to look at the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament as they are, we would be hard-pressed not to see a redemptive and sacrificial Messiah. But over centuries, the hopes of a spiritual Messiah were replaced with a political Messiah. This caused religious men to look up at Jesus on Good Friday and tell Him that if He were really the Messiah, He should save Himself and come down from the cross, when in fact, He was proving Himself to be the Messiah by staying on the cross and saving them from their sinfulness.
One of the greatest dangers we Christians have is turning Christianity into idolatry. We tend to make Christianity palatable to our taste. We interpret, and reinterpret, until we have created a form of Christianity that is in our image. Jesus, nowhere in Scripture, ever directs us to do that. He calls us to hear and do His Word. I get the impression He feels His words are pretty clear in and of themselves. We need to be willing to let Jesus always be scandalous. The Gospel message, although good news, always confronts, challenges, and convicts us. We must allow it to transform us into Jesus’ image, rather than Him into ours.
May we always see in Jesus the Messiah what He says He is!