I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I was raised in a Christian home. I’ve attended church since I was born, and I’ve long been haunted by a simple question, one I ask myself every Christmas—how did so many people miss Jesus?
By “miss Jesus” I mean, how did the son of God come to Earth, live, die, and rise again largely anonymously? Why did so many who met him and heard him teach still not understand his identity and purpose? Why did so many of those who knew God’s word the best—the religious leaders of the day—debate him, oppose him, and ultimately conspire to kill him?
For the unbeliever, the answer is obvious. They didn’t “miss him”; they just didn’t believe him. They knew he wasn’t the Christ. For the believer, however, the answers are challenging and humbling, and one of them is particularly relevant for today—even the finest religious minds couldn’t separate God’s word from their desperate desires.
Jesus was born to an oppressed people who yearned to be free. He was born to a people who longed for a king. And just when they perceived the need for power, Christ came powerless. The son of God himself was born in a manger, a feeding trough for livestock.
And when the need for power persisted, so did Christ’s perceived weakness. He left the manger and fled to Egypt to escape certain death. He returned and toiled for years in total anonymity. When he finally launched his ministry, rather than rally the masses, he sometimes retreated from the crowd. He could even seem to intentionally drive them away.
And then he died, executed by the Roman state, mocked by the soldiers who killed him, with only the smallest fraction of followers by his side.