The Biblical concept of messianism, understood as the collective expression of the historical hope of a people on its way, can become one of the most important sources for a theology of liberation. The idea of the Messiah carried with it the belief in a divinely appointed person who would deliver Israel and bring about the consummation of the divine plan with its corollary of peace, freedom and justice, in reality the belief in progress and hope.

For centuries the Jews had been ground under the heel of foreign conquerors - Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and then Roman. In much popular eschatology the Messiah was expected to reverse the situation. The oppressed would rise under his leadership, overthrow pagan rule, and establish Jewish hegemony over the world.

The Zealots were expecting a warrior as Messiah; and the school of Shammai a legalist; and the Essenes an ascetic; and the philosophic schools some divine vision. The people were expecting One who should break the yoke off their necks - a king clothed in earthly splendor and manifested in the pomp of victory and vengeance. Their minds were haunted with legendary prophecies, as to how He should stand on the shore of Joppa, and bid the sea pour out its jewels and scarlet, and feed them with even a sweeter manna than the wilderness had known.

At the time of Jesus, all agree that the Messiah will be a descendant of David, ancient tradition has stated. He is often called the 'son of man' as in Dan 7.13. A nation had been trained in the hope of the Messiah to wait for the dayspring from on high and the fullness of God's kingdom. Jesus is tempted to construe his mission in this light. The Messianic hope, the hope of a better, brighter, happier, and more glorious future for the Jewish nation.

But Jesus reveals to them another King. Jesus seems to want to conceal his messiahship, even though the confession of Jesus as the Messiah is essential to man's salvation. If Jesus had publicly announced that He was the Messiah, or allowed his disciples to do so, the Jewish people would have assumed - wrongly - that he was putting himself forward as a king in the political, nationalistic sense, and the universal outreach of the gospel would have been obscured.
[33, 172, 309, 314, 316, 324, 355, 12]

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