by Andrea Helbig
For hundreds of years, the Jewish people suffered displacement and oppression as various empires occupied their land. Jewish scriptures foretold the coming of Messiah, the one who would save them from their captivity and set them free forever. Because of this hope for a saviour, the Jewish people lived with anticipation for the arrival of the Messiah.
Tired and weary of Roman rule, many expected a King or political ruler to come in might and power to defeat their oppressors. Because this was their expectation, this is what many were looking for. However, when Jesus arrived on earth, he wasn’t what the Jews expected. He came into the world and demonstrated his power through humility and gentleness.
The prophet Zechariah prophesied some 500 years before Christ:
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
In Matthew 21, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem as predicted, riding a donkey and welcomed by a crowd who recognised his position of power. Ultimately Jesus’s purpose as Messiah was not to rescue the Jewish people by might and control but to establish a new way - a new kingdom characterised by peace, justice, mercy and love. A kingdom borne by force can be taken by force, but a kingdom established of peace will not be overcome.
As we reflect on Jesus the Messiah in preparation for Christmas, may we experience the power of his unexpected peace and gentleness in our life.