What Kind of Messiah?
No one knows what kind of Messiah John the Baptist was expecting. Some people in that day looked for a nationalistic, kingly figure who would drive the Jews’ enemies (Rome) out of their country. Others were expecting a religious teacher to show Jews how to be truly holy. Some expected the Messiah to be a supernatural figure; some did not. Whatever John was expecting, however, Jesus apparently wasn’t it. He sent and asked Jesus, “Are you the one?
Jesus didn’t answer John directly but pointed to what was being done in his ministry. People were being freed from whatever kept them from living life as God wishes then to live it: illness, poverty, death, etc. Narrow views of freedom (from our enemies) or of what it means to be holy (keeping the law) have no place in the mission of God’s Messiah. Instead Jesus came to find people burdened by any circumstances of life and set them free. This should be our ministry as well.
—Dr. Mitzi Minor
- From what have you been freed in your life? Guilt, fears, unrealistic expectations of yourself, the effects of abuse in your past, poverty, what ? How did others help you be free?
- Are there things that still bind you? How could the members of your church help you become free to live the life to which God has called you?
- Are you aware of and sensitive to the burdens of those around you so you are able to aid them in becoming free to live the life to which God has called them?
- Do you believe your church is aware of and sensitive to the things that bind people in your community like poverty, prejudice, etc.?
How Do I Act?
- Many Christians have become aware in recent years of ways such things—low self-esteem, anger about the past, believing we must be perfect in order to be loved—bind us and keep us from being all God created us to be. But often we don’t know what we can do about such difficulties. Invite a pastoral counselor from your area to your church to teach you as non-experts what you can do to support and encourage one another in your desire to be free of such things.
- Jesus didn’t hesitate to link poverty with illness as things that bind people; such thinking may be new today. Many people assume persons are poor because they are lazy. Invite someone who works with people living in poverty to your class to tell you what they know about the bondage of poverty.
- Examine your church’s outreach ministries. How and where is your church involved in freeing people? Note what is positive and also what is lacking.
- Develop a strategy for you church to fill up something that is lacking in your church’s outreach ministry.