I don’t remember exactly when, but a very long time ago, in my formative youth, I listened to the Easter story of the resurrected Christ walking with two disciples on the road to Emaus as he explained to them how both Moses and the prophets spoke clearly about the Christ. I thought it would be terribly useful for him to repeat that to me in person because it wasn’t clear at all that the Old Testament had much to say about the Jesus I knew.
Of course there were the Advent, Christmas and Easter readings from Isaiah. Very poetic about the suffering servant and all, but not persuasive in explaining Jesus as Son of God and Messiah.
It took years, but one day while reading in the 59th chapter of Isaiah, it occurred to me that God was saying, in fairly clear language, that God in God’s self would be the Messiah. I started looking for other references in scripture in which God declared that he, himself, would be the long awaited savior. Not that there were not many other Messiahs, anointed by God to perform some saving function in a particular place at a particular time: Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Zerubbabel and Cyrus to name a few. But time and again, in the Psalms and through the prophets, God declared that it would be by his own arm, his own strength and his own presence that the people of God would be fully and eternally rescued from destruction and death.
I’ll leave it to you to do your own searching in scripture, and hope that you find it rewarding. The point is that in Jesus, God was fully and materially present in our world to do exactly what God said that he would do. I think that’s probably what Jesus explained to those two disciples on that road to Emaus. I think that’s what Peter and Paul finally understood. It’s what makes Jesus different from any other prophet. He was not a man especially blessed by God’s Spirit to proclaim a greater truth. He was God incarnate doing what God always said he would do when the time was right.
Theologians reading this post are likely to mutter something like, ‘yeah, so what’s new about that.’ But I think the average Christian has not been exposed to that line of thinking, and I’m going to test it out this spring when I start a new mid-week bible study for a group that has not had one for many years. We shall see.