Jews around the year 30 AD prayed for the Messiah to come, not as an after-thought, but in an anguished crying out to God to deliver them. Not that life was that difficult in the physical sense. Because of the Pax Romana, they had more creature comforts than ever before. Taxes were high, but what’s new there? If it were not for the fact that Pilate hated the Jews, they would have had little to complain about.
We know that Jesus began his ministry sometime before 36 AD, more likely before 31 AD, and we know that Herod Antipas ruled in Galilee and Herod Archelaus ruled in Judea when Jesus began teaching and healing. We also know that Pilate was Governor of the region, a job he held for ten years. There are several other factual details that suggest, without proving, that Jesus began his ministry 27-30 AD. It could have been later, but not much earlier.
It is important to understand the years surrounding that 30 AD date and the role the Messiah had to play in it. I mean by Messiah, not exactly Jesus, but rather the idea Jews had about the Messiah. The belief in the Messiah has never been as strong as it was in those years. There have never been more prayers offered nor tears shed.
The Messiah stepped into a nation ready for him, thirsting for him. The problem was that the Messiah did not look like he should have, nor did he act correctly. Jesus was not the Messiah of expectations.
Even so, many thousands of Jews believed and became the backbone of the early church. Today, among those of us who claim to be Christian, are many who still have trouble with Jesus as the Messiah. Many of us want a Jesus who kicks butt and takes names. Many of us want him to be a living, breathing, human, so we invent substitute human-messiahs. Many of us want him to behave himself by not pestering us during the workweek and playtimes. Any while we’re at it, why can’t he be more like Santa?
Yet, in every passage of scripture today, we read about the presence of the Messiah. He has been in the world since the beginning. He has always been on our side. Nothing we do is unknown to him. He is disappointed with us, but he never rejects us, and he is thrilled at the good things we accomplish.
I may be poor, have cancer, be hated by many, suffer daily pains, be unpleasant to look at, or any of thousands of other “items”; it is not the job of the Messiah to take care of those things in this life. It is his job to make it possible for every single human who has ever lived or ever will to make it into the presence of God the Father of us all.
Be righteous and do good.