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Unlikely Messiah

If you could custom-order a messiah, it probably wouldn’t be Jesus. In His day, He did not fit the popular idea of a savior — and still doesn’t by many people today. Consider this unlikely Messiah:


He wasn’t born in a palace to wealthy or influential parents. He was laid in a manger because Joseph and Mary could find no room in an inn. He did not grow up in leisure, groomed to take over a throne, but spent his childhood in a backwater town.


He wasn’t a monarch or magistrate, but a carpenter’s son. Instead of wielding sword or scepter, he swung hammers and tapped on chisels. He was covered in sawdust, not a robe of fine purple linen.


The rich and powerful did not attach themselves to Him. He called scandalous tax collectors and motley fishermen to His side. Women, who were considered second-class citizens in His day, followed Him and helped fund His ministry. Even children were welcomed into His company!


On the last Sunday of His earthly life, He gave a visual picture of His mission by riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey. Conquerors would triumphantly enter cities on white war-chargers. Jesus chose a humble beast-of-burden to show that He came in peace and lowliness. Later that week, He would strip down to a slave’s loincloth and wash the feet of His followers.


Jesus’ own disciples were aghast that He spoke plainly about His impending death by crucifixion; Peter even rebuked Him for such talk. A savior should not shamefully hang on a cross; He should die gloriously on the battlefield or leading armed revolt. But not this unlikely messiah. Christ willingly laid down His own life for all of us (John 10:11-18), and then was buried in a borrowed tomb. No monuments or inscriptions marked where he lay.


Jesus not only talked about His death, but He also promised His resurrection. But the Easter news brought fear and confusion. The women did not know what to make of the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene did not recognize the Risen Lord. Thomas doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. However, over a period of 40 days, Jesus convinced them that He was, indeed, alive by appearing at various times and places (Acts 1:3, 1 Cor 15:3-112 Pet 1:16).

The Resurrected Christ could have bedazzled the nation or humiliated His enemies. Instead, He gave final instructions for His disciples to take the world by love. He would be with them, imparting the power of the Holy Spirit; indeed, the same power that raised Him from the dead would be theirs so they could accomplish this impossible task.

People trust many things for their happiness. They bury themselves in bottles or pop pills, thinking this will bring satisfaction. They hop from partner-to-partner, believing that ultimate fulfillment can be found in another human being. Men and women bury themselves in work or leisure, hoping that earthly pursuits will fill that gaping hole inside. The French philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal, put it this way: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help…”

Pascal noted that this soul-vacuum is immeasurable, and therefore can only be filled by an “infinite and immutable object.” Whether we acknowledge it or not, the yearning in each of our hearts can only be filled by the Unlikely Messiah, the One who lived on earth for a brief spell to secure our salvation, but who is now revealed as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb 1:3).

Have you trusted this Unlikely Messiah? If not, do so and you will find it more than likely that abundant life is yours. It’s guaranteed.

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