Have you ever wondered what the conversation was like between Jesus and the 2 men walking to Emmaus? Or any conversations between Jesus and John the Baptist when they were away from the crowds? There’s one thing we can be sure of: these conversations were influenced by their expectations and hopes for their Messiah. And the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) can shed some realistic light on what these were.
WHAT CONSCIENTIOUS JEWS HOPED FOR IN THEIR MESSIAH
I think you’ll agree the Jews in Nazareth must have wanted a messiah that would lead them in a battle against the Romans, given their hatred for Gentiles. 2 weeks ago I covered Christ’s move to Capernaum because I believe he found more teachable Jews there.
Many Jews in Jesus’ time expected Messiah just to be human despite…the OT contains important hints about his divinity. Judging from the literature produced in the time between the Testaments, however, we know that some Jews expected Messiah to be much more than merely a human descendant of King David.
One of the oldest suggestions that there would be something special about a future male descendant of David is by…Nathan. The passage is sometimes called the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16)…. “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me”…. The promise of a filial relationship with God is also given… “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One…. I will declare the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father” (Psalm 2:2, 7)….
The prophet Isaiah… “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever…” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
From The Dead Sea Scrolls
WHAT JOHN THE BAPTIST HOPED FOR IN HIS MESSIAH
I wrote about John the Baptist before I read the following, which I found most interesting:
A variety of ideas were entertained among the people of Israel…. John the Baptist had his ideas, too, and while in prison he grew discouraged and sent messengers to Jesus…. Matthew 11:2-6…. Jesus’ reply echoes selections from Isaiah and Psalm 146. For instance, “the blind see” comes from Isaiah 35:5 and Psalm 146:8; “the lame walk” comes from Isaiah 35:6; “the deaf hear” comes from Isaiah 35:5; “the dead are raised” comes from Isaiah 26:19; and “the poor are told the good news” comes from Isaiah 61:1. In a DSS called a Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521), we find impressive parallels to all of these texts. One column reads as follows:
“For the heavens and the earth (Psalm 146:6) shall listen to His Messiah and all which is in them…shall not turn away…. Strengthen yourselves, O you who seek the Lord, in His service…. For the Lord…will honor the pious upon the throne of His eternal kingdom, setting prisoners free (Psalm 146:7; Isaiah 61:1)…. He shall satisfy the poor…guide the uprooted…make the hungry rich (Psalm 146:7).”
What is especially interesting in this apocalypse (revelation) is that the remarkable things it describes are to take place when the Lord’s Messiah appears…. From this we may infer that…opening the eyes of the blind, enabling the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, raising the dead, and proclaiming good news to the poor are things the Messiah was expected to do…. John sent word to Jesus when he “heard in prison what the Messiah was doing” (Matthew 11:2).
But what caused John to doubt? The answer is found in the very passages of Scripture to which Jesus and the author of 4Q521 alluded. According to Isaiah 61:1 and Psalm 146:7, prisoners were to be set free! He was still bound in prison….
Jesus understood…so answered with the words of Scripture to signify that he was, in fact, performing the works of the Messiah even if John happened to remain in prison. Suffering was necessary for Jesus. This was the path the Father called him to walk…. This is why Jesus concluded his reply to John by saying, “And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed” (Matthew 11:6).
From The Dead Sea Scrolls
SURRENDERING TO GOD’S WILL
Praying according to God’s will removes conditional faith from our hearts. It means we’ll trust no matter how much it hurts. It gives perfect peace although the storm of struggle maybe intense. But the struggle is worth it. The lack of peace when one isn’t surrendered is, in itself, a torment.
The above pictures were scanned from John the Baptist as a baby, adult, and beheaded.