By Jerry Harris
Belief has incredible power, doesn’t it? And to think, in some ways, we believe the same story of the Messiah the people of Israel have believed for thousands of years. It is quite revealing.
Christ is a Greek term translated from the Hebrew word Messiah, and it’s more a title than anything else. It came from a compilation of Old Testament Scriptures like Deuteronomy 18:18. It means “anointed,” and it was reserved for prophets, priests, and kings. But this one person, this “super” person, would be all three. The Jews placed all their hopes and dreams in this Messiah as they watched and waited. But for all that watching and waiting, it’s interesting that when he came, many people either didn’t recognize him or completely rejected him.
Even though he fulfilled those Old Testament Scriptures in perfect detail, he didn’t match the story they had developed in their heads and hearts. He was a prophet, gifted in foretelling and forthtelling in every way. He was a priest, but from a more ancient order than their priesthood at the time. And he was a king, both by pedigree and divine right. He was even recognized by foreigners, the Magi, and evil king Herod.
His public ministry was daily proof of this truth. His teaching was purely prophetic. His priesthood was demonstrated in his ability to heal and his forgiveness of sins, and was proven in his death and resurrection. And his kingdom, though not of this world, was shown by his authority and sovereign power over nature as demonstrated by his miracles.
Of his many miracles, the only one repeated in all four Gospel records was the feeding of the 5,000. It’s unique in multiple ways: It’s the only miracle in which someone other than Jesus contributes. It’s the only miracle in which Jesus asks his disciples participatory questions. It’s the only miracle where Jesus instructed his disciples to help carry it out. This miracle included more people than any other Jesus performed. Finally, it’s the only miracle to prompt the Israelites to attempt to crown him king (as recorded in John 6:14-15).
The attempt to crown Jesus king is most interesting. Pause to consider all the things these people had seen, heard, and experienced. Many had been healed and taught—they had seen and heard wondrous things—and yet, nothing moved them to take this step until this miracle. Why? One might contend this fulfilled a prophecy about the Messiah from Ezekiel 34 that he would feed his people like a shepherd feeds his sheep . . . but it was less than that. One might call to mind how, through Moses, God fed their ancestors every day in the wilderness with manna and quail . . . but it was less than that.
It was simply that they could be fully fed, with food left over, through no effort of their own. That’s a leader everyone could get behind . . . someone who would meet their immediate need in the most basic way. It was proven a few verses later when the people asked for their next meal. It’s estimated it took 30,000 pounds of food to feed so many people; if Jesus could do that, what couldn’t he provide? (See John 6:26-27.)
Isn’t that just like us? We’re inclined to reach for the more immediate things—for the next shiny object—rather than for the higher things. We vote for people who promise to give us the next obvious thing, but we fail to honor the One who will provide what we truly need for life and eternity. Jesus knows that about us and yet he still loves us. Consider John 2:23-25. The people wanted to make him king, but Jesus didn’t come to earth to be crowned by sinful people. He came here to be crucified for sinful people!
Oh, Jesus was crowned—but with thorns rather than gold. He was robed—but for mockery instead of majesty. He was lifted up—but on a tree instead of a throne. And he was proclaimed—but in disdain rather than honor. His royal blood was spilt out instead of protected. His life was discarded instead of defended.
He was crowned by his Father and robed in splendor by the angels. All heaven and nature sing of his truth and grace and the wonders of his love. And what was the answer to humankind’s greatest need? It was for Jesus to be the King we needed, not the one we wanted (see John 6:31-32, 35).That’s what makes Jesus the authentic Messiah.