These pulpit notes are provided unedited and will thus contain some grammatical or typographical errors.
- “I will advocate for the poor!”; “I will provide for the needy!”; “I will punish the criminals!”; “I will clean up corruption!”; “I will bring character to the office!”
- So are the perpetual cries of the politicians. Promises made.. and promises soon forgotten.
- That seems to be our experience the world over, doesn’t it? Whether such promises are made in good faith or not, it seems that men and women in leadership seem to perpetually fail to deliver. Either because they are unwilling, or unable.
- Further, it seems that even some who begin well-intentioned, are easily corrupted by a broken system.
- On the other hand, sometimes positions of authority are sought for the sole purpose of wielding power over others.
- Pure narcissism leads men and women to positions of authority to build their own empire, or their own name, or their bank accounts, seeing their citizens as the means to build their kingdom, instead of a people to be served.
- Sometimes a politician catches our attention who speaks words of compassion and runs on a platform of helping the needy only later to reveal that their solutions have more to do with punishing one demographic than helping the other.
- In this way we realize that leaders not only often fail at identifying the problems that need to be solved, but also often offer terrible solutions.
- Class warfare, identity politics, divisive rhetoric… saying whatever needs to be said to rile up the most political among us, in order to secure a vote.
- Our experience is one of hearing politicians on regular cycles making promises to care for the weak, and to provide for the needy, and to reject corruption, and to lead reform, only to prove themselves unwilling or unable to make good on their promises.
- You may think that is an overly-cynical take on our political system. But consider the collective experience the world over. Entire nations are impoverished or oppressed because a relatively small group of corrupt leaders at the top have unchecked power and are ensconced within a system which seems beyond repair.
- In such situations we may at times witness a well-intentioned individual who has genuine care and compassion for a citizenry and a zeal to clean up corruption only to find that the system is so corrupt, that he is powerless to effect any meaningful change.
- Considering the world scene, rigged elections and even assassinations are on the table when it comes to protecting the corrupt at the top.
- Bribes, corruption, dishonesty, broken promises, misguided solutions, and divisive politics have been the order of the day for so long, that many are beyond hoping for a just and righteous leader and have instead have resigned to cynical disengagement.
But what if there were hope?
- Imagine a politician, prime minister, president, chancellor, or King who both ran on a platform of justice and righteousness and perfectly fulfilled his promises. A leader who would advocate for the downtrodden, giving voice to those who otherwise have no voice. But one who also implemented just solutions, caring for the weak, without unjustly punishing the strong. A leader who had a compassionate heart moved by the struggling and suffering of those he led.
- Imagine a leader who not only advocated for the poor and needy; the downtrodden and rejected; but one who executed justice flawlessly.
- Imagine a leader who, instead of causing division among the people, brings perfect unity.
- Imagine also that this leader and his policies of compassion and justice are driven by his personal fear of God. That is, he compassionately advocates for the poor and needy, executes justice on the wrong doer perfectly, vindicates the oppressed without fail; and does all of this because he is himself perfectly obedient to the law of God.
- Next imagine that unlike politicians with which we are familiar, this leader does not simply run on such a platform, but has all authority and power to perfectly execute these things, forever.
- Perfect Justice, perfect righteousness, perfect compassionate care, and limitless power to make it all happen.
Well, we will learn that such a hope does exist for us, but first this morning we want to consider that it was just such a hope which loomed large in the lives of those Jews who would become the first disciples of Jesus.
John 1:35-42 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 ¶ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
John 1:43-45 ¶ The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
In our passage we find John the Baptist fulfilling his calling as the forerunner of Jesus. He sees Jesus approaching and for the second time declares him to be “the Lamb of God!” When the disciples of John the Baptist heard this, they understood that Jesus was the one whom John the Baptist was preparing them to receive.
So, John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus. This is a wonderful indication of the obedience of John the Baptist, isn’t it? He understood his role as the forerunner of the Messiah. He understood that his purpose was simply to point men and women to Jesus. When Jesus arrived, it was time for John to fade into the background, and for Jesus to take centerstage.
When we say that these men followed Jesus, we mean it literally. In verse 37 we find the disciples beginning to walk behind Jesus and Jesus turning around and asking “What are you seeking?” He knew why they were following but asked the question in order to have them articulate their desire to be his disciples. They then ask where he is staying, signalling that they intend to remain with him.
It was 4 p.m., about 2 hours before sunset, so they went and spent the remainder of the day with Jesus.
What Did They Really Know?
This seems very abrupt, doesn’t it? John declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” and suddenly these men are attaching themselves to Jesus, with a willingness to be his disciples. I mean, what did they really know about him, and where did they get this information? Was their knowledge of Jesus and their need to be his disciples entirely from the testimony of John? Or was there more to it?
The answer is in verses 40-41 where we begin to see just how these early disciples understood the identity of Jesus.
John 1:40-41 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
Andrew, I think out of sheer excitement, knows that before he joins Jesus, he has to run and tell his brother Simon what was going on. Notice how he describes what’s happening “We have found the Messiah.”
Messiah – the word is a transliteration of a Hebrew word which simply means “anointed one.” When the Lord would set apart a man, consecrating him for service, whether a priest or King, he would have that man anointed with oil. Literally the pouring or smearing of oil on the head.
But the term as used here by Andrew and Peter had obviously taken on even greater significance. Andrew to Peter says, “We have found THE anointed one.” THE Messiah, or THE Christ. There were other “anointed ones.” Other priests, and other Kings, but this Jesus, according to Andrew, is the supreme anointed one, for whom they had been waiting.
The Jews had come to expect a singular figure, who would possess an anointing beyond any who had come before, or who would come after. At this time, the Jews, including Andrew and Peter would have understood this anointed one, or Messiah primarily as the promised, anointed King, a descendant of David, who would hold a supreme office of service which would have global implications.
For the remainder of this morning’s message, I would like to explore just how Jesus’ early disciples would have understood what it meant that Jesus was Messiah, and what implications Jesus’ messiahship has on us.
And, before you think that considering Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, or Christ has little to do with us as Gentiles, let us be reminded of John’s purpose statement in his gospel:
John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
So, let’s begin by looking to the Old Testament to see just how the disciple’s conception of the Messiah, the anointed King, the Christ would have entailed.
The Origins of Messianic Hope
The hopeful anticipation of a figure who would arrive on the scene to set right the wrongs of this world, and vanquish the enemies of mankind, goes as far back as the early chapters of Genesis. It is there in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve plunged the human race under the curse of sin, where we are given the promise that one day, someone from the seed of woman, would appear who would deal a deathblow to the seed of Satan.
This promised seed would somehow reverse the curse of sin and death which Adam had foisted upon the human race, along with all of creation.
Every subsequent generation after the curse held out hope that theirs would be the generation when the promised seed would be born.
- The lineage which would produce the promised seed, the desperately needed deliverer was repeatedly narrowed. After Cain killed Abel, it was clear that promised one would come through Seth.
- Then, when God judged the world via a global flood, it was clear that the seed would have to be a descendant of Noah.
- Then, among all the people of the earth, God would choose a man named Abraham, and through him God would promise to bring forth the promised one. Some descendant of Abraham would be the promised seed.
- Then, from Abraham, to Isaac (not Ishmael), and then through Jacob (not Esau).
- Jacob then becomes the progenitor of the nation of Israel. Israel would produce the promised deliverer. The promised seed, who would crush the head of Satan, would be a Jew.
Then we see an interesting development in the expectation of this promised one. When Jacob’s descendants, now the nation of Israel are wandering through the wilderness after the Exodus, a prophecy is made from an unusual source. God uses the pagan prophet Balaam to reveal to Balak that Israel, whom Balak is seeking to curse, is God’s chosen, blessed people from whom would come a powerful king.
Numbers 24:15-19 ¶ And he took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, 16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered: 17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. 18 Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly. 19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion and destroy the survivors of cities!”
According to Balaam, at some point, far into the future, God would establish a royal figure (that’s what the reference to the scepter implies), out from Israel who would bring victory over Israel’s enemies.
But, look at how this victory is described in verse 17: “17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.”
In describing this coming king and his victory, Balaam says that he will “crush the forehead of Moab.” What does that remind you of? That is an allusion to Genesis 3 in which an offspring or seed was promised which would crush the head of Satan.
Balaam is saying far more than he knows. The Lord is revealing through him that the promised seed, who would crush the head of Satan, would not only be one from within Israel, but he would be a King of Israel.
The hope of Israel for a deliverer would eventually take the form of hope in a Kingly figure who would vindicate their cause, and vanquish their earthly enemies.
Where it comes to anticipating the promised one, all eyes would now be upon the Kings of Israel.
Israel and Its Kings
Israel would have an interesting relationship with Kings. In its purest form, Israel was meant by God to be a theocracy. They were the people of God and he alone was their King. So, if they were to have an earthly King, that King would himself have to be a subject of the King of Kings. He would have to be an obedient servant of Yahweh who served to mediate God’s rule over the people and not his own.
Further, if the people were to have an earthly King, they were not to place all their trust and hope in that earthly figure, but in God alone.
Both these requirements – a faithful King, and a people who worshipped God and God alone would serve as continual challenges for Israel.
So, as the Lord anticipated the establishment of Kings in Israel, he gave them clear commands in Deuteronomy. He said through Moses:
Deuteronomy 17:14-20 ¶ “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. 18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
So, the Lord established clear directives for Israel when choosing a King.
- He is to be chosen by the Lord
- He must be from among the Jews
- He must not depend upon his military might, instead of the Lord.
- He must not accumulate wives like the pagan Kings.
- He must not acquire excessive silver and gold.
- Beyond all of this, he must write for himself a copy of the law of God, read it, study it, and learn to fear God.
- He must obey the Lord in all things.
- He must be a servant King who does not elevate himself above his brothers.
If he is a King like this, he and his kingdom will endure for a long time.
Well, Israel’s first foray into Kingship didn’t work out so well for them. When the Judges had become corrupt, they demanded from Samuel that he make a King over them. Samuel warned them regarding their attitude towards Kingship and that by following the standard of Kings from the surrounding nations, they would end up with an oppressive and ungodly ruler. The Israelites still insisted on appointing a King of their own choosing.
After warning Israel that their motivation for wanting a King was wrong, and after warning them of the type of King they would end up appointing, Samuel said:
1 Samuel 8:18-20 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
And look at the response from the people:
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
And with that, right from the beginning, the Israelites violated God’s commands regarding a King.
Samuel said, “In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom YOU have chosen for yourselves.” Yet in Deuteronomy, God said that the King was to be one of his choosing.
The Israelites said they wanted a King to go out to fight their battles, but God had warned them that they were not to rely on military might, but on him alone.
They wanted a King who would render judgment among them just like the other nations, while God warned that the King himself was to be an obedient servant of Yahweh and that God’s law was to be the ultimate judge.
Suffice it to say, Israel’s first King – King Saul, was an unmitigated disaster.
In announcing the end of his tenure as King, The Lord said to Saul through Samuel:
1 Samuel 13:13-14 “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
After enduring a King of the people’s choosing, God now says that he will appoint a King of his own choosing. A man after his own heart.
Having seen how disastrous a bad King could be, Israel would now have an appetite for a divinely appointed King. A King of God’s choosing who might rule with righteousness and justice.
This is where King David enters the picture.
Remember the story, the Lord instructed Samuel to invite a man named Jesse to come before him with all of his sons. Although Samuel spotted who he thought must be the future king among Jesse’s boys, the Lord spoke to him:
1 Samuel 16:7-13 …”Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
David was the Lord’s chosen. He was the one whom Samuel was to anoint. David would be King and he would be a King after God’s own heart.
And David would be an exemplary Israelite King.
- David who trusted God in the face of insurmountable odds when he faced Goliath, continued his pattern of trusting God as King.
- David who was offended by the Philistines defaming of the name of the Lord, continued honouring the Lord as King.
- David who refused to kill Saul when being hunted by him, but instead trusted God to vindicate him, continued to trust God’s sovereignty as King.
- David whose “heart struck him” after he cut a piece of Saul’s robe, remained sensitive to his own sin as King.
- When David established Jerusalem as his capital, he ensured that the ark of the covenant would be brought to the city. The ark represented the throne of God and so by doing so, David was declaring that it was the Lord who ultimately ruled over Israel.
So, we are told of David: 2 Samuel 8:15 ¶ So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. He, having begun as a shepherd, knew what it meant to care for a flock, and he saw such an analogy with his reign as King. He was the shepherd-King, anointed by the Lord, to mediate God’s kingdom, for the benefit of God’s people, to the honour of God, the ultimate King.
- Further, David was not only one who trusted God, who was zealous for the honour of the Lord; who was sensitive to his own sinfulness; who was submissive to God as supreme King; and who administered justice and righteousness; but he was also a mighty military ruler who saw tremendous victories on behalf of Israel.
- And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him. (2 Sam. 5:10)
- And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went. (8:6, 14)
So, David became exemplary as the ideal Israelite King. His rule became the zenith of Jewish history and all other Kings would be compared to him.
In fact, God would ensure that David and his reign as King would remain such a standard, by establishing a covenant with him.
When David inquired of the prophet Nathan, with a desire to build a temple for the Lord, the Lord told Nathan to respond to him…
2 Samuel 7:5-16 “…Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'”
So, the Lord makes a covenant with David. A near fulfillment of this covenant is the fact that the Lord would establish David’s son, Solomon as King and he, Solomon, would build a temple for the Lord. But there is so much more.
- He promises that one from his own lineage would reign forever.
- He promises that he will relate to this Davidic king as a Father relates to a son.
- He promises that he will never remove his steadfast, or covenant love from him.
- The Lord promises David that his kingdom would endure forever.
These promises contain echoes of God’s promises to Abraham. The Lord will make David’s name great, just as he promised Abraham that he would make his name great. God guarantees significant offspring from David’s body, just as he promised significant offspring from Abraham’s body. Really what’s happening here is that God is signalling that he will fulfill his promises to Abraham through the Davidic line.
Through someone in David’s Kingly lineage, the Lord would fulfill his promise to bless all nations
But now we begin to run into a problem. Although David’s decades as King were a highpoint of Israel’s history and exemplary of an Israelite King, things did not remain this way. Soon, even David succumbed to his own sinfulness and saw the unravelling of his kingdom.
David for all of his honourable traits was a sinner. He committed adultery with another man’s wife. He oversaw the murder of that man to coverup his sin. After hearing of Amnon’s rape of Tamar, though angry, David did nothing about it. David’s household falls apart and his own son leads a revolt. When David returns to the throne, he sins by taking a census – an act of pride on par with the pagan kings.
And for the remainder of David’s tenure as King, his own sin and the sin of his children disrupt the peace with initially marked David’s monarchy. Following David, his son Solomon would take the throne and he would have a good start, but he would also give into his own sin, bringing judgment upon Israel. After Solomon, the kingdom would be divided and a series of Kings would ascend to the thrones in the divided Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
The glory days of Israel under King David would never be recaptured. The Northern Kingdom cycling between 9 different dynasties would not have 1 good king and would be carried away into Assyrian captivity. The Southern Kingdom of Judah, because of God’s promises to David, would endure longer with flashes of repentance and revival, with some good Kings like Hezekiah and Josiah, but even the Southern Kingdom would succumb to its own sinfulness. Sinfulness on the part of the King and the people, and they would be carried away into Babylonian captivity.
So, following David, the history of Israel was a history of one corrupt, idolatrous and immoral king after another and a people who largely followed suit.
A Future Hope
King David and the glory days of his kingdom were a distant memory, but also provided the foundation for a future hope.
What we find in the prophets who prophesied leading up to and after the Jewish exiles, and within the Psalms which were compiled after the exile, are prophetic passages which look forward in hope towards a coming future King who would be like David, but surpass David.
Their hope was rooted in the covenant which the Lord made with David. He had promised him a King from among his descendants who would reign forever.
Psalm 2 looks forward to an anointed King, called God’s Son, who might rule over all the nations, bringing blessing to those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 72 anticipates a King who would judge the people with righteousness and the poor with justice. One who would defend the cause of the poor and crush the oppressor. One who fears the Lord. Under whose rule, righteousness and peace abound. A kingdom which extends from sea to sea. A King who simultaneously demands all other kings bow down before him, while showing compassion to the weak and vindicating the oppressed.
Psalm 110:1-7 ¶ The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 ¶ The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
So, think of a Jew reading these Psalms after the exile, understanding the history of their nation which had seen one disastrous monarchy after another. Think of how such Psalms which become forward facing. They would offer hope that one day a future King would arise who would finally satisfy God’s ideal. After all, they had the promise of God’s covenant with David and so it was only right to expect that God, in his faithfulness would one day fulfill those promises.
This hope for a future Davidic King is reflected in the book of Isaiah. Written at a time when injustice is rampant, and Kingship is in a shambles, and captivity is around the corner, Isaiah prophesies in Isaiah 9:
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah prophesies a direct fulfillment of God’s covenant with David. A King in the line of David will ascend to his throne and will reign forever. His throne will be established and upheld with justice and righteousness. He will be the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God and Everlasting Father.
Isaiah again taps into the Davidic Covenant promises in Isaiah 11:
Isaiah 11:1-10 ¶ There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. [Stump – David line had been chopped] 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. 6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 ¶ In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
The day is coming when a King, a Davidic King will arrive. he will be Spirit-filled. He will fear the Lord. He will judge justly. He will deal with the poor and meek in equity. He will judge the wicked. He will be clothed in righteousness and faithfulness. His Kingdom will bring peace, not just to the nations, but to all of creation. His rule will bring rest to the entire world.
Isaiah 16:5 then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.”
The prophet Jeremiah picks up the theme of the Davidic covenant in Jeremiah 23 and through it offers hope to a people on the threshold of captivity:
In this passage he refers to the corrupt rulers of Israel, including King, prophets and priests as “shepherds”
Jeremiah 23:1-6 ¶ “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD. 5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’
Long after David is dead and buried and Israel has burned through a host of unfaithful Kings, and are on the verge of captivity, the Lord reminds them of his promise to David and gives them hope of a future King who would meet and surpass the Davidic ideal. This shepherd-King would rule in righteousness. He will execute justice and righteousness in the land. And He will bring salvation for Judah and Israel.
Ezekiel picks up the same theme, while denouncing the corrupt “shepherds” of Israel:
Ezekiel 34:22-31 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken. 25 “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”
The Lord promises a tender shepherd, whom he refers to as “my servant David.” That is, the promised final fulfillment of my covenant with David. The coming anointed Davidic King whose kingdom will subdue every nation and all of creation, and bring rest to all of God’s people.
This King would not be chosen by the people, but chosen by the Lord himself. He would anoint him and place him on his throne, in his timing. His coming would bring relief and rest to the poor, needy and oppressed. His coming would bring judgment to the wicked and vindication to the hurting. His Kingdom would mark the coming of salvation for all people. He would reign has a powerful King, while possessing the compassionate heart of a shepherd. This righteous anointed one, unlike his ancestor David, will not see his Kingdom unravel due to sin, but will reign in righteousness forever.
Back to Andrew and Peter
It is the hope for a coming, anointed King like this that developed and passed through the generations leading up to the disciples we meet in the first chapter of John. When they say “We have found the Messiah (or Christ, or anointed one).” This is whom they believe they have found.
And truly, this IS who they found.
The angel declared to Mary:
Luke 1:31-33 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
You can imagine the exhilaration felt by Andrew, Peter and John the Baptist’s other disciples when they receive from John the good news that the long-promised anointed one, the Messiah, the Son of David, had finally arrived.
They daily experienced life under the oppressive Romans, and witnessed the mistreatment of the poor and needy. They saw the suffering of the sick and disabled. They were affected by rampant sinfulness. Just like we are in our day. They longed for justice, righteousness, and equity. They longed for one who would judge justly, and plead the cause of the weak. They long held out hope that they as individuals and as a nation would experience vindication and see their fortunes finally turned.
This Jesus is the anointed one, the promised righteous King who will soon ascend to his throne and set everything aright!
The disciples were right of course. Jesus was and is indeed the promised Davidic King who would rule in righteousness forever.
- Upon his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended thus anointing him for his ministry as the promised Davidic King.
- His obedience was unfailing, even in the face of incredible temptations.
- His miracles were miracles of mercy shown upon the suffering.
- His words were words of wisdom, who gave life to their hearers
- His associations were with the lowly, rejected and downtrodden, though he was superior to all.
- His care for the masses was a shepherd-like care which saw him moved in compassion in response their physical and spiritual needs
- His trust in God was unfaltering, leading him to trust him all the way to the cross and through self-sacrifice.
- In all points, Jesus was the perfect anointed one. He was the perfect King.
Unlike his Father David however, whose kingdom unravelled due to the power of sin, Jesus, the better Davidic King overcame the power of sin and established his kingdom forever.
He did it however in a manner which his disciples did not expect, and did not understand from the Old Testament scripture and certainly did not understand when they excitedly proclaimed that they had found the Messiah.
As the perfect King, Jesus laid down his life for his people. Why? Because if his kingdom were to be an eternal kingdom, free from sin, unrighteousness, injustice and corruption he would have a hard time finding people to populate it, wouldn’t he?
See the problem is not just that Kings and people in power are sinners, but that we are all sinners. If Jesus were to establish his eternal kingdom, he not only needed to be the sinless one, but he would have to give himself for us, so that he could make a redeemed people who could inhabit his kingdom.
Jesus, the anointed King, the Messiah died for you and I so that he could make a people fit for his Kingdom. He was then buried, rose three days later and was enthroned at the right hand of God. Jesus now rules and reigns over his kingdom. A kingdom which has taken a spiritual form through the church at present, but will be consummated in the end and for all eternity.
As the Angel says in Revelation 11:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
So, unlike Andrew and Peter and the other disciples in John 1, we have the big picture. We know that Jesus is the promised Messiah but we also know that he did not come the first time to establish an earthly, physical kingdom but instead came to die. Why? Because he was not only the promised Davidic King, but he was also the promised offspring of the woman. He came not merely to vanquish earthly enemies, but to crush the head of the serpent, Satan. He came not just to overturn human corruption, but to eradicate the sin curse which is the source of all corruption. He came not just to improve the quality of our earthly lives, but bring us to spiritual life.
He came not just to create a righteous kingdom for his people, but to first create a righteous people for his kingdom. This he could only accomplish by bearing our sin, suffering in our place and rising again in victory.
So, unlike the Peter and Andrew and the other disciples, we have this fuller revelation.
But now, LIKE Peter and Andrew and the other disciples, we remain in a posture of hope. We are now waiting for Jesus to return once more, not to deal with sin, but to bring about the consummation of all things. As Christians we are a people who have been made new in anticipation of a new creation. We have been made citizens of the kingdom before the Kingdom has fully arrived.
To be sure, Jesus rules and reigns at this moment. He is Lord of all things to the church, but the day remains when Jesus the anointed King will return in power and glory and establish his glorious throne from which he will rule in righteousness for eternity.
This he will do because he is God’s anointed King. He is the Christ. He is the Messiah.