By: Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Mark 13, mc Mark 11.27-13.37, vv 13.21-22
Note to the Reader
This week we continue our examination of the Gospel of Mark. As such, I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Gospel in conjunction with this article.
Passage: Mark 13, mc Mark 11.27-13.37, vv 13.21-22
A Warning from Jesus
Mark Chapter Thirteen is filled with valuable information. This chapter also has information that reveals things about the Temple destruction and the return of Jesus himself. While those are interesting and needful, it seems just as proper to spend some time looking at one of the many sub-points that Jesus stated during his discourse in Mark Thirteen.
As American Christians it probably is somewhat foreign to us to think that there would be anyone else who would claim to be The Messiah, The Christ. That is why it is interesting to learn about a man named Simon bar Kochba1 who lead a revolt against the Romans in the A.D. 130s. Some claimed bar Kochba to be the Messiah, but the disciples of Jesus would not ally themselves with bar Kochba because of the Messianic claim, consider this:
[Rabbi] Akiva demanded that all Jews unite around one Bar Kochba (Son of the Star), the one whom he had personally claimed to be the “King Messiah.” To do so, The Way would have had to renounce their salvation in Yeshua [Jesus] – which of course they did not… .2
While the writer in that last statement used the phrase The Way refraining from the word Christian, the phrase and the word refer to the exact same group of people-those who followed Jesus. We know this by referencing at least one statement by Paul, “However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.”3 [emp. mine]
Jesus and False Messiahs
Since we are two thousand years after, and two oceans away, we might not fully grasp the magnitude of the bar Kochba event, perhaps that is okay. But what is certain is that there are some individuals who have been given the title of Messiah, post ascension of Jesus. Historical evidence proves others have been labeled Messiah, so it behooves us to listen to Jesus in Mark Thirteen when he warned his followers to be mindful about future Messiahs:
At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.4
Earlier, we saw that history has recorded other men to have been labeled Messiah, but there is an even more deceptive Messiah that our Adversary uses. This Messiah, which is false, is derived by the rationale and intellect. It is this False Messiah that we should be constantly aware of and protecting ourselves against, because this False Messiah is just as dangerous and is capable of deceiving the Elect. As such, we need to be on our guard, knowing that Jesus has warned us.
Today and False Messiahs
To me, it seems unlikely that as American Christians we would put our faith in any other person than Jesus, the personal Messiah. But what does seem likely is that we might put our trust in a concept, or an idea, or a method, or something else intangible (which are anything but Jesus) to deliver us. Here is what I mean. While the word Messiah means Anointed,5 the word Messiah conveys the power to save, to deliver one from afflictions and despair; and while American Christians do follow the teachings of Jesus, there are times we try to become our own Messiah and deliver ourselves from afflictions and despair.
Our Adversary is sneaky. He will use misdirection and falsehoods to try and deceive the Elect here in the United States, even if he re-labels and redefines the term Messiah. The Adversary did not stop his deception just because Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven; if anything, it seems that the Adversary is angrier now, more than ever before. The Adversary has lost and will be cast into Hell himself, but that does not stop him from trying to take as many as possible with him into torment.
Full salvation comes only through the promised Messiah, that being Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew and son from the tribe of Judah. It is tempting to believe that power, prestige, knowledge, wisdom, self-help, internal fortitude, financial security and an army of other powerful tools will deliver and protect us from devastation, but that is the means by which the Adversary deceives. Real power sets in Jesus, not in the theologies, philosophies, or ideologies devised by the human mind.
Jesus is a strong and powerful Messiah, above all other names and above any idea conceived by humankind. Let us keep our trust in the Messiahship of Jesus, and trust in his mighty power to save and deliver. Trust him, listen to him and heed his warnings. May the LORD bless us as we seek to stay faithful to the true and living Messiah.
1. “Simon bar Kochba.” Note-the wiki link spells bar Kochba with as “bar Kokhba;” the “ch” spelling is utilized within the article for easy of reading, whether “ch” or “kh” the spelling means little because it refers to the same man; the English spelling of Hebrew consonants can and does vary, this accounts for why there is a difference in the spelling of bar Kochba. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_bar_Kokhba, July 28, 2010.
2. “Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba.” Fishcher, Raymond Robert, The Ways of The Way, Part II: The Synagogue of The Way, Chapter 11 The End of an Era: The Way Takes Leave of Tiberias, page 97.
3. “Paul’s statement about The Way.” Acts 24.14, NIV.
4. “Jesus Warns against False Messiahs.” Mark 13.21-23, NIV.
5. “Messiah means Anointed.” Thayer’s Greek Definitions states, “Christ = anointed;” the English word Christ is from the Greek word christos (G5547), which is derived from the Hebrew word mashiyach (H4899) which also means “anointed,” Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Definitions, e-Sword Version 8.0.6.