What are you looking for in a Messiah?

That was the question posed to the two disciples of John the Baptist in John 1:38, after John proclaimed Jesus to be the “Lamb of God” in verse 36. Turning to see these two men following Him, Jesus asked “What do you seek?”

That’s a good question for us too, even some 2000 years later. Especially now, during the holiday season where so many people are turning to Him for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time. As they look at the child laying quietly in the manger, what is it that they’re looking for?




The Jews were looking for something too. They were looking for their Savior, the one they would redeem them from the clutches of evil itself and restore them to a period of prosperity that their fathers had once enjoyed.

To them, the Messiah was supposed to be a…

Child of Promise

Just as Abraham waited patiently for the promise of his son to be fulfilled in his ripe old age, so we find Scripture after Scripture pointing us towards the Son that would eventually be born. 

Deuteronomy 18 calls this Man a Prophet in the spirit of Moses.  Psalm 110 calls Him a “Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Isaiah 7:14 says that He will be born of a virgin. Micah 5:2 tells of how He will be born in Bethlehem. Honorably, Jeremiah 23:5 claims He will be a king from the lineage of David himself.

But what does all of this mean? What is a king supposed to be?

At its core, a king is a leader of the people, freeing them from their shackles and delivering them to a peaceful existence. The bondage that once enslaved them is over, and they can finally be citizens of their rightful kingdom.

The birth of someone like that can only be announced by heralds who understand its significance, like when the angels surprised the shepherds in the field on the night the Christ came into the world. “…Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

A King like that may take centuries to arrive, but when He does, the era that He delivers will still be met with roaring cheers from those who realize the magnanimity of His presence.

Child of Sorrows

But to those who don’t recognize the deliverance that the Son of Promise brings, He’ll instead be one who accompanies pain. Not because He personally hurts others, but because He won’t be the person they expected Him to be and can’t see His glory.

They can’t see His goodness because they don’t want to see it. To the carnal heart, anything – or anyone – that doesn’t bring with them tangible, immediate benefits is not any Savior for them. They despise and reject Him, making Him the “man of sorrows” that Isaiah 53:3 talked about.

From the beginning of His earthly life, this fact was stated by Simeon in Luke 2:34, saying that He was a “sign to be opposed” – one that would cause many people to rise, and many others to fall.

And at the end of His earthly life, He was misunderstood by the very person who sealed His execution orders, despite appeals that His “kingdom was not of this world” (John 18:36).

Today, people are still looking for a King that will help them in this physical existence, when the Messiah’s actual mission is to save people from spiritual death.

Child of Power

Regardless of whether He’s what you expect or not, there’s no doubt that the Messiah is a Son of power. The great judgment scene in Matthew 25 has the Messiah separating the world into two camps – one to eternal life and the other to eternal death.

“But what about the kinda good people?” you may ask. There is no area for that. You’re either with Him, or you’re not with Him. You either serve Him, or you don’t (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23).

“But He’s not my Judge!” someone else would say. Doesn’t matter. One day, “every knee will bow” (Romans 14:11). Whether you want to admit or not, He is Lord of your life.

What’s most remarkable about the Messiah is all of the times that man has tried to stop Him and failed miserably. From Herod’s genocide in Matthew 2 to Pilate’s illegal execution 30 years later, man has tried to kill His Name and failed. Even mass persecution by religious authorities for three centuries couldn’t stop the spread of His Gospel, and yet we think we can avoid Him somehow?

When we think we can escape His presence, we find ourselves making the same mistake that Jonah did, heading in the opposite direction from where God wants us to go. And yet God still saw him; he was standing right in front of Jehovah the whole time.

So what Messiah are you looking for? He’s here and He is alive; does He match up to your expectations? 

If not, you can take the easy way out and look for another Messiah, or you can change your expectations to match those of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a virgin who was born in Bethlehem, of the line of David, made as a priest in the order of Melchizedek and a prophet greater than even Moses.

Do you believe?

If not, what are you looking for?

Last modified: January 22, 2019