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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is the idea of "Messiah must suffer" from Luke, an oxymoron or an invention of Luke?

As a Christian, to speak of Jesus is to speak about a son of God, who suffered and die to pay the debt of the sins of the world (John 3:14-21, Gal. 1:14, Heb 13:12-16) and by His resurrection, he was enthroned and sated at the right hand of God and shared the Lordship with the Father (Philippians 2:8-11). Bellinger and Farmer wrote “central and essential to a distinctively Christian faith is the belief that a particular person, namely, Jesus, died on behalf of other”
It is Jesus Christ’s suffering and death accomplished God’s plan of salvation and played important role in Christian belief and theology. The term Messiah and suffering servant is coin-sided of salvation theology because, when Christians proclaim and confess about Jesus Christ and his redemptive work, they are confessing Christ’s suffering as well as Christ resurrection. The son of God paid the debt of sin by his suffering and death. And that suffering and death was legitimized and proven as an act of atonement by resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the coronation or enthronement of God’s anointed one, Messiah. Therefore, in my opinion, the suffering and the role of Jesus as messiah is the heart of the Christian theology of salvation and atonement, even the center of Christians’ belief. 

In the Gospel according Luke, the Apostle Luke indicated that messiah must suffered, died (Luke 24:44-46). Here, Luke explicitly mentioned that messiah had to suffered and died according to the Laws, prophets and Psalms. Therefore, in Luke's interpretation of Jesus’ suffering and death, Jesus had proven that He had fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies and expectation. Jesus’ suffering and resurrection as messiah or suffering servant plays essential role in understanding of Christian salvation theology. Yet, the question arises here that how Jesus actually did fulfill the role of messiah and how Jesus could actually claim that He is the Messiah. 
Many scholars argued that the idea of Jesus as being Messiah or the suffering servant of the Lord is the idea invented by the Gospel writers and the early Christians. Some biblical scholars claimed that Jesus’ suffering and death have nothing to do with or have no linkage to the servant songs in Isaiah or the Royal Psalms. They even argued that suffering messiah was typically the oxymoron of Luke. “Interpreters have usually been content to draw on the figure of Isaiah 53 or to note that pre-Christian Judaism had no concept of a suffering Christ figure; they therefore remark that Luke’s scriptural suffering Messiah is an early Christian invention or oxymoron.”
This statement basically saying that the idea of suffering messiah is not originated in Old Testament, therefore, the role of Jesus as suffering messiah could not be a fulfillment of the Laws, the prophets and the Psalms as Luke stated, and thus the idea of Jesus being a suffering messiah is merely an intervention of early Christians.  If this statement is true, it would jeopardize the Christian belief that by His suffering and death, Jesus, the Messiah, had paid the debt of sins and redeemed the whole world and accomplished the salvation plan of His Father. Because, if there were no suffering messiah and the suffering messiah and it was not part of God’s salvation plan, the whole system of Christianity would failed and what Jesus did for us would not be a valid act for atonement and our saviour, Jesus Christ, would merely a person who died on the cross during the Roman occupation in Mediterranean. For this reason, it crucial for Christian to convince other that it is God’s plan to save the people through the sufferings, death and resurrection of his son and anointed one, Jesus Christ. 

Notes: I would like to hear from you what you think of the scholars' claim of "suffering messiah" is a creation of Luke, or the early Christians. 

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