In John 7-10, while the people are debating about who Jesus is, they suggest many options. Some say he’s “a good man” (7:12) and other say “he deceives the people” (7:13). Others say he’s demon-possessed (7:20), or a prophet (7:40). But there is one possibility which is hotly debated: is Jesus the Messiah? That is, is Jesus God’s long-awaited King? And if so, what does that mean for him and for us?
John 7:25-44 25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
The crowds are confused as to whether Jesus might be the Messiah. Some seem to think that the Messiah will have mysterious origins – and because they know where Jesus is from, this means he mustn’t be the Messiah (7:27). But then others say that they do know where the Messiah will come from – he’ll be one of David’s descendants from Bethlehem – and then argue that this rules out Jesus, because he’s from Galilee (obviously not knowing of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem). However others point to the miracles that Jesus is doing and argue that it couldn’t be possible for the Messiah to do more miracles than what Jesus is currently doing – so therefore Jesus must be the Messiah.
The controversy makes us wonder whether the people really don’t know what to expect of the Messiah, or conversely, whether they have such a fixed idea of what the Messiah should be, that they can’t mould Jesus into their expectations.
So what does it mean for Jesus to be the Messiah? We have to remember that at this point in John’s gospel, Jesus is revealing gradually through signs what it means for him to be the Messiah. So what hints does he give in these chapters?
Jesus has been sent by the Father (7:28-29), but he is only to be on earth temporarily before he will return (7:33). Many people will look for him but not find him (7:34), yet others who are thirsty will come to him and drink (7:38). After his glorification, the Spirit would be given to those who believe (7:39).
Words like “glory” wouldn’t have seemed out of place when used with “Messiah”. The Messiah was to be God’s eternal King, so there was the expectation that he would be a glorious King. However, Jesus’ messianic glory wasn’t anything like what was expected – his glory ended up being a shameful crucifixion, where he was crowned with thorns, not with a golden crown.
What does it mean for Jesus to be the Messiah? He is the one who brings about God’s surprising glory. He is the Messiah who makes it possible for us to have a good relationship with God by the Spirit. Having paid for our sin in his shameful, agonising death and having been raised to life again, he gives us his Spirit, meaning we have an abundant, eternal life in relationship with our God.
Head: What is something unexpected you’ve learnt about Jesus as God’s Messiah from John’s gospel?
Heart: How do you feel your relationship with God is going at the moment? Pray that God can help you grow in the abundant relationship you have with him by the Spirit.
Hands: Jesus is God’s eternal King or Messiah. How is he the ruler of your life? How can your decisions and priorities look different today because you follow Jesus?
Prayer: Father God, I praise you for sending Jesus to earth as my unexpected Messiah. Thank you for his death and resurrection. Thank you for sending us your Spirit so that I can know you intimately and have a good relationship with you. Please forgive me for all my rebellion against you, and help me to live with Jesus as my King. In his name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: Grace Awaiting Me
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.