High Point of History!
“God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah”
Lord and Messiah.
These are the kinds of terms that made me hesitant to attend a Sunday School class when I was a middle school student curious about connecting with God. These terms have an aura of loftiness, holiness, and of another realm. They were words I never used or heard used outside of church. And as a seldom-to-never attender of church these words fumbled awkwardly off my tongue. Though I’m not certain, I’m pretty sure if you’d asked my middle school self I would have guessed that ‘Lord’ and ‘Messiah’ were Jesus’ first and last names.
Yet these names of Jesus are placed at the climax of Peter’s Spirit inspired message about God’s emerging hope for the world.
The title of messiah was given to a leader God raised up for the purpose of delivering God’s people in order to fulfill God’s dream. This dream of God involved the Hebrew people blessing the whole world by embodying and living out the way of God. Often the hope of a messiah conjured up memories of leaders from the tribe of Judah in the lineage of the renown King David. The Davidic kings, especially David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah were considered elite leaders raised up by God to lead the people in faithfully observing and embodying scripture.
Still the Hebrews found themselves stuck in a situation where the dominant superpower of the day ruled over them. They bounced around under the authority of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. They were usually free to worship, but not to be an independent nation embodying God’s Way for the world.
When Jerusalem was conquered and the temple was destroyed it led to an important conversation for the Hebrew people. When would they know they had been restored? Two distinct perspectives on the answer to that question seem to be at work in the Hebrew Bible. One suggested the people would know God had restored them when the temple was rebuilt and the priesthood restored to offering sacrifices. The other suggested restoration would occur when a Davidic king was once again ruling over the Hebrews. This second perspective was more challenging in its fulfillment. Other dominant superpowers ruling over you are not going to take kindly to any attempt to return a member of the historic royal family to power.
Peter proclaims Jesus as Lord and Messiah to those present at the Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit. It is a reminder to the people of Israel that Jesus of Nazareth has embodied the dual roles of suffering and of service as God’s chosen. This member of the lineage of David has come as a different kind of messiah. Furthermore, he is not only the climax of the what God is doing in the story of the Hebrews, but he is also the Lord of all the world. These dual titles imply fulfillment of the mission of the Jewish people and an extension of this mission to all people. The particular hope of the Hebrews has become the universal hope of humanity.
Lord and Messiah are far more than names or titles for Jesus. They embody his role in redeeming the brokenness of humanity. What God began in the Hebrews, God is extending through the Davidic Messiah to all people. Later in Acts it will be the work of God’s Spirit in the lives of non-Jewish people which serves as the confirming sign that God does not discriminate among people.