“He came to that which was His own, but his own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
At the time of the coming of Christ, Messianic fervor was strong among the Palestinian Jews. They were virtually prisoners in their own land, under the control of Rome and its delegate, Herod the Great.
From a religious point of view, too much of Jewish worship –even the construction of “Herod’s” Temple – was tainted by Gentile control. And the regular grind of a heavy Roman tax burden constantly fueled the mounting hatred of the Gentile overlords.
The Jews were looking for a deliverer – a Messiah (Greek Christ) or Anointed One – sent by God to be His agent of deliverance for His chosen people.
Many, perhaps most, envisioned Him as being a military leader, someone in the pattern of Judah Maccabeus, Israel’s hero a century-and-a-half before the birth of Jesus. Under Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greeks had slaughtered 40,000 Jews in and around Jerusalem. But he was most hated for his desecration of the Holy Place. In his arrogance, Antiochus seized the Jewish Temple, erected a statue of Zeus within its precincts, and invoked absolute revulsion and horror among the remaining inhabitants by slaughtering a pig on its altar.
Judah Maccabeus led the Jewish revolt and restored Jewish worship within the Temple in 165 BC. This is commemorated by Jews in their Hanukkah celebration (this year ending the week-long celebration on December 5th).
Other Jews looked for a Messiah who, as a priestly figure, would restore a purity of worship to the Temple system. This would eliminate the stain of politics and finance – 2 components for which the Jewish faith in the Holy City was becoming characterized.
Some Pharisees in particular, looked for One who as a legal and prophetic figure would clarify and accurately interpret the Torah (5 books of Moses), thereby leading reformation.
And the Qumran community – living in the region now famous for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls – was watching for the arrival of 2 Messiahs: one in the role of priest, and the other as prophet!
But then the astounding occurrence! When the true Messiah finally arrived, in fulfillment of massive amounts of Old Testament predictive prophecy and as the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King, He was rejected by His own, waiting people!
Takeaway: Father, thank You for giving me spiritual insight, faith and the capacity to appropriate the truth of your Son, the Christ of God.