Meditations On The Messiah - Nice But Not Wanted

by Ray Hawkins


Social status is the longing of most human hearts. All of us want to be recognized, or considered of some importance, or admired. Books and scores of soap operas exaggerate this drive, but we know the reality of status longing in our own souls. Such longings, even cravings, will drive men and women to do things that beggar the imagination merely for the elusive power or prestige of position.

Isaiah tells us of the One who had all the eternal social status of Glory, but who put it aside for a while. The result of this 'putting aside' is movingly expressed and expounded in his 53rd chapter.

It was no frivolous experiment that the Messiah was to undertake. It was not a slum tour of humanity. It was an identification, a participation with the misery of life that so many experience that was the intent of the Messiah mission. Such a mission would bring with it its own ridicule and rejection by those who were unable to grasp the compulsion and cost of Divine love.

And perhaps strangest of all, the more religious a person appeared to be and the more remote God was from a person's life, the more unfathomable the Messiah's devotion would seem to be.

Isaiah 53 is awesome in its application of this identification. "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (53:3). This dismissal of His dignity and mission encompassed both the Jewish and Gentile worlds.

The Gentiles failed to recognize the Messiah because He came in and through the Jewish nation -- a nation considered 'strange' and 'incorrigible', a people you would prefer to be rid of and yet were not able to do without! -- sounds rather like the twentieth century viewpoint! And they failed to recognize him because they weren't expecting Him or looking for Him anyway. But whether Gentiles like it or not, Messiah and His redemption came from the nation fathered by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Jewish nation that had long expected the Messiah was not attracted to the One who came, for in spite of His flawless lineage according to prophecy He came from out of the culture of the common man. The people longed for a hero, handsome and clothed in the radiance of heaven's might, a deliverer from oppression. They could not come to terms with His coming unheralded, with tears, and experiencing the pain of the every day. The corporate messianic notion was one of glory and it crowded out the concept that such glory could come out from humble surroundings.

So it was this prejudice, at least in part, that prevented the people in general from perceiving the One the prophets had spoken about. And so instead of checking Him out by Scripture they sought to cancel Him out as a pretender. The implications of this are recorded in Psalm 22. He spoke gracious words and did marvellous works, but preconceived ideas overwhelmed these signs so that He became despised and rejected.

It is testimony to the Messiah's dignity and credibility that He felt such rejection and sorrow and rose above them. In fact they are like medals on His chest declaring that He has walked that way and that in prevailing He is able to understand and rescue others from such situations.

Perhaps it is time for another appraisal of the One who in the estimation of the world is NICE BUT NOT WANTED.