Responses to the Incarnation
John 1.10-12: "He was in the world, and though the world
was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came
to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet
to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the
right to become children of God"
I Cor 2.6-8: "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature;
a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who
are passing away; 7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden
wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom
which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood
it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;"
Luke 19.41ff: "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city,
he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known
on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your
eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment
against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will
dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will
not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time
of God's coming to you."
Compare Isaiah 1: "Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the
Lord speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted
against Me. "An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master's manger, But
Israel does not know, My people do not understand.""
Not just Jesus, but John the Baptist and the very times:
And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all
things; 12 but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did
not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the
Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood
that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. (Matt 17.11ff)
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Him asked Him
to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He answered and said to them, "When
it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.'
3 "And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red
and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky,
but cannot discern the signs of the times? (Matt 16.1ff)
But it was clear that the response to Him would be mixed...
1. The OT prophecies of the Rejected Messiah (e.g. Zech 12)
2. The prophecy at His birth (Luke 2.34)
"And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold,
this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for
a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to
the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
3. And many of the people did believe in Him...
And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road,
and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in
the road. 9 And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed
after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is
He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many
believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. (Jn
And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him
because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things
that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking
Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more
believed because of His word; (Jn 4.39)
But many of the multitude believed in Him; and they were saying,
“When the Christ shall come, He will not perform more signs than those
which this man has, will He?” (Jn 7.31)
As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John
was first baptizing, and He was staying there. 41 And many came to Him
and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said
about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.
because on account of him many of the Jews were going away,
and were believing in Jesus. (Jn 12.11)
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but
because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should
be put out of the synagogue; (Jn 12.42)
But What were the obstacles to acceptance by the rulers?
1. Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Maccabean Revolt
a. Pre-Maccabean attitudes toward the Jewish people (3rd-2nd century
b. Early attempts at 'conciliation' with Greek "Wisdom" (Jewish lit)
c. Antiochus III and Jewish rights to practice the Law
d. The internal battles within Jerusalem aristocracy: Hellenizers vs
Conservatives (e.g. mass education) and 'historical' Torah is replaced
by 'cosmic/ontological' Torah.
e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Jason's purchase of the High Priesthood
f. Establishment of the Gymnasium/Ephebate (175-174 BC)
g. The Tobias brothers want more; they buy the priesthood and do more
reforms (171 BC)
h. Turmoil in the city (the return/outsting of Jason) and the founding
of the Akra (168 BC)
i. The Hellenizing party and the persecutions of Antiochus IV:
"The persecutions were enacted in the winter of 167/66 B.C.E. To begin
with, the decree of Antiochus II which had granted the Jews extensive rights
of religious freedom was formally rescinded. Moreover, in December of 167
foreign idolatrous worship and cultic prostitution were introduced into
the Temple. In addition, throughout Palestine the Sabbath and festivals
were to be violated, high places (outdoor shrines) were built where unclean
animals were to be offered, circumcision was outlawed, and the dietary
laws could not be observed. The penalty for violating these ordinances
was death. In every part of the land Jews found themselves facing royal
officials who sought to enforce the regulations with a vengeance, burning
Torah scrolls and executing those who hid them." [From Text to Tradtion:
A History of Second Temple Rabbinic Judaism, Lawrence Schiffman, KTAV:1999,
j. The temple turned into a sacred grove of "Zeus Olympius"!
k. The revolt led by the family of the Maccabees (167-164 BC)
l. But the Akra does not fall for 26 years! ("thorn in the side") and
the separatist, anti-Gentile sentiment rises
m. The "zeal against the Law" provoked a "zeal for the Law"
"The extreme sensitivity of Palestinian Judaism towards even an apparent
usurpation of power over the law and the sanctuary which is demonstrated
in the Essense attacks on Jonathan and the pharisaic criticism of John
Hyrcanus, and which eas expressed in wild mass demonstrations under Alexander
Jannaeus, Herod and Archelaous and the Roman procurators, is a fruit of
this newly awakened 'zeal'" [Martin Hengel, HI:JH01:I:306]
n. And then we come to Jesus, Lord of Torah and Temple...
"This fixation (on the Law) meant that any fundamental theological
criticism of the cult and the law could no longer develop freely within
Judaism...Undertakings of this kind [attempts at criticism] were inevitably
misunderstood in analogy to the Hellenistic reform attempt as an attack
on the supreme articles of Israelite faith or even as apostasy to paganism.
Here is the profound tragedy of the reaction of Judaism to the primitive
Christian movement which developed from its midst. Jesus of Nazareth, Stephen,
Paul came to grief among their own people because the Jews were no longer
in a position to bring about a creative, self-critical transformation of
the piety of the law with its strongly national and political colouring.
The small Jewish Christian community could only maintain itself in Palestine
by strict observance of the Torah--and even then only with great difficulty."
o. And so the response was predictably intense, as we see it in the NT
"When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them,
"Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called
Christ?" 18 For he knew that because of envy they had delivered
Him up" [Matt 27.17f]
"What is certain is that Pilate sized up the real motivation of the
Jewish leaders (v. 18). They had no special loyalty to Rome; so if they
were accusing Jesus of being a traitor to Rome, he must have been disturbing
them for other reasons; and they were simply using Pilate to eliminate
Jesus' challenge to them. Pilate, with his network of spies and informers,
would be aware of how much popularity Jesus Christ enjoyed among the people
at large. He could hardly have been unaware of the upsurge of acclaim the
previous Sunday (21:1-16). [D.A. Carson, EBC]
3. Greed/Power needs
"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a
vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built
a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. 34 "And
when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers
to receive his produce. 35 "And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat
one, and killed another, and stoned a third. 36 "Again he sent another
group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.
37 "But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my
son.' 38 "But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves,
'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.'
And those who saw and knew and welcomed Him were from
every conceivable subgroup...
1. Human, angelic, demonic, Divine
2. Jew and non-Jew (Samaritan, Greek(?), Roman, Canaanite/Phoenicia,
3. Rich and poor
4. Leaders (e.g. Pharisees and Rabbi's) and followers
5. From Galilee, Idumea(?), Decapolis, and Judea
6. soldiers, government officials (e.g. tax-collectors), and civilians
7. Commoners and of the royal household (Herod's, Pilate's)
8. prophets and prophetesses
9. old and young
10. men and women
11. Diaspora Jew (e.g. those at the feasts) and Palestinian Jew
12. Acceptable trades and despised trades
13. Priests (?) and scribes(?)
14. outcasts (e.g. demoniacs) and "in-casts" (e.g. synagogue rulers)
15. The righteous (e.g. John the Baptist) and the criminal (e.g. Brigand
on the cross)
And the response continued into Acts...and into today
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