The Jews believe that the Messiah is yet to come.
Christians believe the Messiah is coming back.
Those of other – or no – religions haven’t noticed much difference and don’t really care.
But all would agree that there is plenty of work left to be done.
We, by any standard, are far from an age of any Messiah — an era of justice, peace, and restoration seems as distant or alien or even incomprehensible as a blockbuster sci-fi film.
But perhaps, in some odd way, that is the point.
Perhaps the Messiah did not come (or is returning) to set things right; maybe the Messiah would (or did) come to remind us, to stir us, to get back to work — the real work — of God’s chosen people. In fact perhaps we have that backward as well: Could it be that ‘the chosen’ are in fact those who have ‘chosen’ to do God’s work in the world?
If a Messiah is coming (or returning), do we imagine that Messiah would be so different from the landowner Jesus told us of? The one who left his estate under the care of his stewards who abused the workers, neglected the vineyard, killed his emissaries (and his own son), with the prevailing logic that the vineyard could – and should – belong to them? (Matthew 21:33-42)
The religious people who heard this parable hated Jesus all the more because, as the Scripture tells us, "they knew it was about them” (Matthew 21:45).
If our faith is based on a Messiah who must cajole or threaten us to get God's work done, we, like those religious people of so long ago, have also clearly missed the message.
Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools, and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective.
Image: man walking through open doors, Mopic / Shutterstock.com