1st century Jews were expecting a Messiah that would rescue them out of their oppression, strike down their enemies, and lead them to victory. They were expecting a king, a warrior, a powerful leader. What they got was Jesus. Now to you and I, having Jesus means everything! But to them, it was a disappointment. He wasn’t the man that fulfilled their expectations for a messiah.
Imagine how this timeline played out:
Many of the 1st century Jews now believe they’ve been duped. They thought He was going to overthrow the government and rule them as king. How could He deliver them if He’s dead? They lost hope when He was crucified. Many gave up on Him and went their own ways, no longer believing He was who He said He was. He quickly went from stardom to disappointment in their eyes.
Then 3 days later, He came back to life. The people who witnessed it and heard of it were once again ecstatic at the news. Those who knew Jesus and His mission knew He was the risen Messiah and He was fulfilling exactly what He said He would do. But not all believed. Not nearly as many as before the crucifixion. His followers went around spreading the news of His resurrection and ascension into Heaven so that people would once again believe in Jesus.
And here we are now, in the present. I think we’re still on the mission of getting everyone back on board with the belief that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. So where do we take it from here? Do we continue believing in Him and trusting that His words and teachings are true? Or do we start going along with the general consensus of the culture; that Jesus is dead and is no longer relevant? Do we still believe in Christ when His ways are questioned? Are we still His fans when His worldview conflicts with ours? Will we be yet another generation to turn our backs on Jesus just because He moved in a way that didn’t meet up to the expectations we created for Him?
When He died on the cross and was abandoned by that crowd who gave up on Him, it only proved who the true believers were. It separated the followers from the mere fans. The hot from the cold. I wonder if something similar is happening in our world again now. When biblical principles don’t match up to our cultural or political beliefs, how do we determine which to lean into? There are things the world accepts, embraces, and encourages that the scriptures are simply against. But many are too afraid to stand up for Christian values because they fear that they might be labeled judgmental or intolerant.
This used to really trouble me. However, there’s something I’ve come to realize. This doesn’t really mean people have changed their minds about Jesus, necessarily. It only shines a light on those who were never really fully committed to Him in the first place. When situations get sticky, people who aren’t “all in” throw in the towel and stay out of the mess. Sure, we may be noticing less people are claiming to be “Christians” than in years past. But I don’t think that really means people are no longer following Christ. I think it just means that the posers have decided to take off their masks. I think the roadblocks Christians are facing today are just hurdles and obstacles that allow only the truly committed to press on. We all have to decide how far we are willing to go to follow Christ. Will we hold to what the Bible says is true, or go along with the trends and agendas of the times?
Revelation 3:16 shows us that we need to pick a side, because we can’t be on the fence when it comes to God. Are we hot, or are we cold? Are we with Him, or are we against Him? There aren’t less Christians in the world. There are just less people pretending to be Christians. And that’s okay, because Jesus doesn’t want fair weather friends. He wants fully committed followers.