Not long after, does anyone recognize the Messiah? Recognizing not only the Messiah, but also what this means for us, can be neglected with stunning results. Some seem to recognize Jesus in a very distorted way, like the guy in the fun house mirror to the left.
In the scriptures for Sunday, Third Isaiah describes the new identity for God's people so that they will be recognized among all peoples as God's prized possession, like the groom with his bride. This would be a reversal from the perception that identified Israel as "Forsaken" and "Desolate," abandoned by their God.
In Luke, the story has the holy family traveling to Jerusalem for the presentation and formal naming of Jesus. At the temple, they meet Simeon first. He recognizes the Lord's Messiah, fulfilling a vision he had received that he would not die before seeing the Promised One. Second comes Anna, a widow who resides in the temple, who also bears witness to others that this is the One who has come for the blessing of God's people.
Our task as disciples remains a simple one - recognize the Messiah. Yet it is not so simple. Christians seem to develop an amazing blindness. In my sermon, I cited a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll which showed that the segment of the population most favorably disposed to torture is white, evangelical Christians. This isn't new really; it confirmed a 2009 Pew Research poll which revealed the same kind of overwhelmingly affirmative numbers from the same groups. (Click the respective links for the actual articles and poll results.)
I'm dumbfounded to find Christians of any stripe viewing torture favorably. Weren't these the same people who saw Mel Gibson's blood and gore movie The Passion of the Christ who came away horrified that Jesus was so savagely tortured? Do they not know that our Lord was tortured? Is their Christianity limited to the four walls of their church for about an hour on Sunday mornings? It would seem that recognizing the Messiah remains problematic.
If there's any doubt about recognizing Christ, re-read Matthew 25:31-40 - click here for the text.
May we be as perceptive as some ancients who recognize the Messiah and the powerful good news he brings.
Sorry there is no sermon video. Someone (me) forgot to charge the batteries apparently. Feel free to download the sermon text and the Fairfielder answers below. We'll do better next week.