Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: Are You the One Who is to Come?: Part 2

I wanted to spend a little bit more time discussing the sixth chapter of Are You the One Who is to Come? a bit more. Bird starts the chapter by discussing the possibility that he may be wrong. What if Jesus didn't claim to be the Messiah? What if he didn't intend to give people the impression that he was the Messiah? Bird answers this by saying that, faith would not be particularly impaired or revised if Jesus had not claimed to be the Messiah and the early church had attached this title to him as merely one way of explaining his significance. The early church did, after all, attach certain roles and functions to Jesus, such as "Righteous One," "Prince," and "Firstborn" –that Jesus did not claim for himself. I for one feel no compulsion to project those rolls and titles into the ministry of the historical Jesus so as to somehow validate them, and I am not particularly bothered by the fact that they are purely post-Easter formulations of the early church’s faith in Jesus. So I would not be bothered at all if the historical Jesus never claimed to be Messiah (p. 161-2).
I think that this is an excellent point by Bird that helps put the entire work into focus. We believe Scripture to be the word of God, thus it speaks authoritatively to us in the way we interpret Jesus. Whether or not Jesus claimed to be the Messiah or tried to act in a Messianic fashion, the Bible presents him that way, and thus we believe that he is, for the word of God is true either way in its assessment. And its the recognition of Jesus as Messiah that matters, for
Calling Jesus "the Messiah" does more than identify him as another anointed figure like a prophet, priest, or a king; rather, he is the definitive revelation of God's eschatalogical deliverance. He is the anointed figure from which none other follows and the Savior that none can exceed (p. 162).
It is this to which we must say amen. It is this reality that really matters and calls us to humbly bow down in worship of Jesus the Messiah.

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