“The Messiah”
Last week I focused on the story of the Bible and how the plotline running through the entire book is the “Messiah.” Every narrative, poem and letter written from chapter three in the book of Genesis, to the book of Revelation. This week I will focus on the meaning and person of that Messiah. 
Today in Christian tradition we often leave the idea to a Messiah to Christmas. I am not sure if that is due to Handel and his amazing musical rendition of the Messiah taken from Scripture, or our tradition of participating in Advent when we prepare for the birth of the Messiah. Actually, the need for a Messiah begins in chapter three of Genesis and runs through to Revelation. 
There are eight key themes that connect the need for the Messiah to Jesus. 
The first key theme is found in Genesis 3. 
It starts with a mysterious talking snake that somehow gets humans to doubt God’s goodness and disobey. You know the deal, “The devil made me do it.”  This is the plot tension that drives the whole biblical story. The Bible doesn’t describe the origins of this being other than it is a spiritual creature in rebellion against God. In that rebellion it is determined to destroy humanity in the process. Jesus makes this comment about it in John 8:44, 
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
This creature has been given other names to describe it from various biblical authors, such as: 
The Satan, “The Adversary” – Mark 1:13; 4:15; Acts 5:3
The Devil, “The Accuser” – Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy2:26; James 4:7
The Evil One – Matthew 6:13, 13:19; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Ephesians 6:16
The Tempter – Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5
Ruler of This World – John 12:31, 16:11; Ephesians 2:22
In Revelation 12:9 John puts these biblical images together and describes it this way,
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Sorry, gave that theme away. So much for the talking snake. 
The second key theme is God’s answer to this evil. God promises a descendant from the line of the woman who will destroy the snake, although will himself, suffer a fatal wound. 
Genesis 3:14-15,
“So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
The Hebrew word used here for “offspring” can refer to a single descendant or a group of descendants. 
One has to continue reading the narrative to figure out which one is being used. Also, the Hebrew word used to describe the battle between the snake gives the idea that the offspring and the snake each give fatal blows to the other in the battle. The offspring will hit the snake’s head and the snake will strike the offspring’s heel. 
There we have the plotline for our narrative. The protagonist and the antagonist. Spoiler alert! We also know who will ultimately win. Now for the rest of the story. 
Our next theme traces the promised offspring of the woman in the story of Genesis to Abraham. Genesis 12:3,
“I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
Later on in the story, we read in Genesis 22:18,
“and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
then Genesis 26:4,
“I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,”
Like any good author, we still do not know whether the “offspring” mentioned in Genesis refers to the entire family of Abraham, or to one specific descendant. Creating a need to keep reading the story. 
The fourth key theme takes us from the story of Abraham to his grandson Judah. In Genesis 49:8-12 you can read how Judah receives a promise from his father Jacob. 
> Verse 8: Judah will be the most significant of the 
twelve tribes. 
> Verse 9: His tribe will be aggressive and victorious 
like a lion. 
> Verse 10: The scepter will remain with Judah and 
make them a royal leader. Also in verse 10 we finally discover that the offspring will be one specific royal descendant who will inherit Abraham’s promise and all the nations will obey him. 
> Verse 12: This descendant will restore the garden 
and its abundance. 
Key theme number five then takes us to King David. 
In this theme we add the idea of a temple. David is promised a specific “offspring” who will build a temple and rule as God’s son. 1 Chronicles 17:10-14, 2 Samuel 7:11-16. 
David also writes many poems found in the book of Psalms that reflect on this promise of a coming king, who will bring God’s justice to all the nations, a direct link back to the promise given to Abraham. 
Key theme number six is related to this hope of a future king from the line of David. 
This time it comes from the prophet Isaiah which also connects back to the promise from Genesis 3:15. We read in Isaiah 11:1-9 how this king will bring justice and full restoration to God’s world.  Isaiah wrote that the future king would become a suffering servant, rejected by his people and die for the sins of his people. 
In chapter 53, verses 11, Isaiah reveals this restoration will involve a resurrection,
“After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;”
In chapter 65, verse 25, Isaiah also refers back to the snakes defeat in Genesis 3:14, when he writes, 
 “and dust will be the serpent’s food.”
From David’s line our seventh theme is the arrival of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. 
Jesus challenges the power of the snake in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11. Immediately following Jesus announces the arrival of God’s kingdom, Matthew 4:12-17. 
The story continues with Jesus gathering disciples and demonstrating his Messiahness by performing exorcisms, by healing the sick and the blind and by liberating his people from evil and death. Jesus’ acts were seen as direct challenges to the snake’s power, Acts 10:38, 
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
The final key theme is the cross. 
It is on the cross where Jesus received the fatal wound from the snake. He did so on behalf of humanity knowing full well that He had the power to overcome death. 
The curious question I have is, “Why did Satan not know this?” Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate defeat of the snake. Genesis 3:14-15 complete.
Jesus’ death was actually his victory; His resurrection defeated the snake of his power over humanity. From the day the stone was rolled away, Jesus offers new life to those who trust him, Hebrews 2:14-15,
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
All of the main themes come to their fulfillment in Jesus, the “Messiah.” 
However, the story isn’t over yet. We are still waiting for Jesus to return. While we do, for those who trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection is for them, we are called Christians. Which is the Greek word, for the Hebrew word meaning, Messiah. Technically we are “Messiah Followers.” This means the story in the Bible is about the Messiah and for us. 
This Christmas season, as we focus on the Messiah, may we consider the profound impact this baby in a manger had on all of humanity. From the beginning of the formation of the universe, until He returns again and gets rid of evil forever, the Messiah is the central theme. 
God with us. Amen. 
Let’s pray.