Most of this section of Acts is a brief history given by Paul one sabbath as he entered a new synagogue. However at the end of this section in verse 27 he makes this interesting statement, which may still be relevant today and is worth exploring for a moment. It says this,
For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.
Paul is not just talking about the general population in this statement. He is speaking specifically about the religious people, and especially the religious leaders of the Jews in those days. We need to understand that these Jewish leaders were desperately awaiting the promised Messiah. They were looking for Him, but when Jesus came they did not recognise Him.
The first question that comes to mind is…why? Why did they miss him? Simply put, Jesus was not what they were expecting. But of more interest to us is…would the religious people today recognise Jesus if he came today, and these are people who call themselves “Christians.” Hmmm. Worth thinking about for a moment because He will return again and we need to ensure we are ready.
What was Jesus like as he walked the earth?
Jesus came as the promised Messiah, but He did not come with any great fanfare, and that is partly why the leaders did not recognise him. They were looking for a leader and a King to stand and fight for their freedom from slavery to the Roman Empire.
But Jesus came as a carpenter and a man of the people. And even among the people, He did not stand out as the scripture says of him in Matthew 12:19-20.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory
Jesus did not go about tooting his own trumpet or blowing his own horn. He did not market himself or seek the approval of others as men do. In many respects he was very ordinary, not the charismatic, hyped up leader the Jews were hoping for. Jesus came as a servant to help man, not to be served.
And today Jesus is often portrayed in pictures or film as some kind of superstar. Perfect complexion, golden locks, straight white teeth. Stage plays and musicals like Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar have done a great injustice in portraying Him as some kind of superhero. He is NOT some superhero, He is much greater than that. He is the Son of God and the saviour of the world. And I’m reasonably sure that if He were to return today (as He was in the Bible), the expectations that have been built up by these false portrayals would mean many would not recognise Him again.
What were His prime teachings and messages?
Another thing to consider is what Jesus taught, for this was a great bone of contention with the Jewish leaders of the day. They were looking for a King to lead them to freedom, and He did and does, but not freedom as they sought, but freedom from sin and the problems of the flesh.
He frequently stood opposed to the teachings of the Pharisees because they stood condemned as hypocrites. They preached the law of Moses to others but did not keep the law themselves. They were filled with pride and arrogance and did little or nothing to help the people. Instead they sought power and control and used their positions as a means for gain, power, influence and wealth.
Jesus taught freedom to the people. He told them about the means that God had established to set them free for sin and set them free from the law so that they could stand in the presence of God as His beloved children. He told the people that through Him, the temple worship would be torn down and replaced with a new teaching that would lead to freedom, salvation and life.
Do all the churches today teach these same things? No they do not. There are many in positions of power in the churches who are doing exactly the same as the Pharisees did and using their positions to lord it over the flock of God and to garner power, position and wealth. This is not what Jesus taught and I would not be surprised if He were to come back He would not be pleased and would condemn them as He did the Pharisees.
So based on what He taught and if He were to return and teach it again, many would not recognise him! especially in the churches. And furthermore, the leaders of the churches would oppose Him as they did all those years ago.
Would you recognise Him if He came today?
So this brings us to the most important question of all. Would you recognise Him if he came today? Are you certain you are following Jesus in accordance with the way HE taught, or have you been blindly following the teachings of someone else without checking whether it is the truth of the New Covenant.
Fortunately we will not have to worry about whether we recognise Him when He returns because unlike His first visitation, next time He will return in power, coming in the clouds and every eye will see Him as he comes. There will be no missing Him and no mistaking Him for who He is…Jesus Christ, Son of God. But if you aren’t ready then, it may be too late.
Now is the time to ensure you would recognise Him by learning to follow Him in accordance with His directions and not the desires and sometimes twisted designs of someone else. Seek the truth now. Look for His word and know that if you do seek Him, He will be found by you. That is His promise to all who seek Him and when you do, you will certainly recognise Him.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Jorge d.j. Melo A.)
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