Sermon illustrations


Expectations for the Messiah King

In this short excerpt, scholar N.T. Wright describes the expectations regarding the Jewish messiah king:

The coming King would do two main things, according to a variety of texts and as we study a variety of actual would-be royal movements within history.  First, he would build or restore the Temple.  Second, he would fight the decisive battle against the enemy.  David’s first act upon being anointed was to fight Goliath; his last was to plan the Temple.  Judas Maccabeus defeated the Syrians and cleansed the Temple.  Herod defeated the Parthians and rebuilt the Temple.  Bar-Kochba, the last would-be Messiah of the period, aimed to defeat the Romans and rebuild the Temple. …

 It is unlikely that the followers of a crucified would-be Messiah would regard such a person as the true Messiah.  Jesus did not rebuild the Temple; he had not only not defeated the Romans, he had died at their hands in the manner of failed revolutionary leaders.

Taken from The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2015 by N. T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

He is Coming: A Triumphal Entry

Just under 80 years ago, a crowd gathered on a humid August day to commence what was to be an unparalleled event for its time. Hundreds of thousands of spectators, police officers, and soldiers gathered for an event so spectacular, so colossal, it almost seemed to come out of a fairy tale rather than real life. Some six continents and 49 countries were represented, with most guests, especially the athletes wearing clothing with their own home flag represented, either on their person, or as they waved their flag for the crowd to see.

But the most obvious flag, the most conspicuous flag that day, was by far, the Swastika. It was draped anywhere and everywhere there was room. For this was the 1936 Olympics, hosted in Berlin. And while most of the athletes were present, the main attraction that day was not the athletes who would compete for medals, but the one who would preside over them, Adolf Hitler.

At 3:18 p.m., according to the author Daniel James Brown, “Adolf Hitler left the chancellery in central Berlin, standing upright in his Mercedes limousine, his right arm lifted in the Nazi salute. Tens of thousands of Hitler Youth, storm troopers, and helmeted military guards lined his route from the Brandenburg Gate through the Tiergarten and out to the Reichssportfeld. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary German citizens had massed along the way, leaning from windows and waving flags or standing twelve or more deep along the street, again using periscopes to get a glimpse of Hitler.

Now, as his limousine passed, they extended their right arms in the Nazi salute, their faces upturned, ecstatic, screaming in pulsing waves as he rode by, “Heil! Heil! Heil!” At the Maifeld, where the U.S. Olympic team members stood, the athletes began to hear the distant sound of crowds cheering, the noise slowly swelling and growing nearer, then loudspeakers blaring, “He is coming! He is coming”. “He is coming! He is Coming!” Chilling words aren’t they?

And I would argue not just because we know what leadership under Hitler would bring to the modern world, but also, the messianic overtones that we hear in the shouts of Hail! And He is coming. I could not help but compare this scene to the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday…the day Jesus entered into the Holy City, not standing on a Mercedes, or even the ancient world’s equivalent, the chariot, but rather he came on a donkey.

Stuart Strachan Jr. Sermon: “Witnessing to the Light”, June 2015. Source Material from Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Penguin Books, 2014.

Not Everyone Wanted a Messiah

Not all Jews of this period believed in or wanted a coming Messiah.  But those who did, and they were many, cherished a frequently repeated set of expectations as to what the anointed one would do when he arrived.  He would fight the battle against Israel’s enemies—specifically, the Romans.  He would rebuild, or at least cleanse and restore, the Temple ….  He would bring Israel’s long history to its climax, reestablishing the monarchy as in the days of David and Solomon.  He would be God’s representative to Israel, and Israel’s representative to God. …

N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006).

Who Was Christ?

U2’s Bono made a striking statement during an interview:

I think a defining question for a Christian is: Who was Christ?” He went on to say, And I don’t think you’re let off easily by saying a great thinker or a great philosopher, because actually he went around saying he was the Messiah. That’s why he was crucified. He was crucified because he said he was the Son of God.

So, he either, in my view, was the Son of God, or he was . . . nuts. . . . And, I find it hard to accept that whole millions and millions of lives, half the earth, for two thousand years have been touched, have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter.

Quoted in Bobby Harrington, The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: Seven Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle

See Also Illustrations on Advocate, Christ the King, Expectations, Jesus, Rescue, Salvation

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