From the first book of the Bible, from the first instance of sin, God promised that some day a Redeemer would come. God repeated and expanded on the promise all through the Old Testament. The coming One, the promised One, the Messiah, would be a perfect prophet, priest, king. He would overthrow evil, rule in justice, defeat all Israel’s enemies. Though he was particularly given so the Jews, he was also promised to the Gentiles.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
Multiple prophecies foretold his coming. Multiple images depicted him: the Passover lamb, the scapegoat, sacrifice for sin, the suffering servant.
But when he came, when he claimed to be the Messiah, his people did not recognize him. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). The Jews of New Testament times looked for a warrior king who would overthrow Roman oppression and establish his physical kingdom. When he pointed out their errors and sins, they had him killed.
People today make a similar mistake. They want a particular kind of Savior:
One who will solve their problems but never require anything of them.
One who will align with and carry out their political aspirations.
One who will increase their health and wealth.
One who will smile indulgently at their sin and never chasten.
One who would never let anything unpleasant happen.
One who will never require anything difficult.
One who never says no to their desires and plans.
Instead of worshiping the Savior as he is, they’ve created one from the own imagination. And when He doesn’t perform according to expectations, well, then, who needs Him?
We all need Him. But we need Him as He truly is, not as we think He should be. Even those of us who have been Christians for a long time still have to continually “renew our minds” and adjust our thinking according to truth. We come to know Him as Savior and Lord, but then we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Him better and adjusting ourselves away from our preconceived notions and expectations and toward who He really is. And we’re not disappointed, because in the end He’s a much better Savior than we could ever have imagined.
Do you know Him today as He truly is? Get to know Him through His Word. If you’re new to the Bible, start reading the gospel of John. See what He does and what He says about Himself.
And if you’ve known Him for years, keep getting to know Him better. Keep learning more and more what a wonderful Savior He is.
(Revised from the archives)