The Bible study on “Jesus, His Advent and Purpose of his Coming” was held with local clergy on Friday, January 20th, 2017, at the United Missionary Baptist Church.
Rev. Bruce Grodner (the newly appointed ACLC National Executive Director), was the facilitator and focused the discussion on how the Jewish people perceived the Messiah and his coming. He pointed out that Jewish people strictly followed the Mosaic laws. Their perception of him and how he would come were deeply rooted in their religious beliefs. Mal. 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” Matt. 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners…”
The clergy shared their reflections on this point. One pastor said as Christians we can read the Old Testament and understand that Jesus was the Messiah and John the Baptist was fulfilling the role of
Elijah. He went on to say that the New Testament reveals what the Old Testament conceals. Jesus testifies to John being Elijah. Matt. 11:13-14. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”
Another pastor asked how can we compare Christians today with the Jewish people in Jesus time. The Christian culture was prepared for the 2nd coming (as the Jewish culture and tradition was prepared for the coming of the Messiah.)
One pastor interjected that when you are born into a faith tradition you are all set. There is not much need to grow your faith in God. We could be following the laws but not following God, or think you are following God and not observe the laws. Some people professing to be Christian run the stop lights and throw garbage out the window, while driving. We need both traditions, laws and principles (OT) as well as grace and forgiveness (NT).
Rev. Grodner concluded the Forum with a solemn comment. “Due to the perceptions of John the Baptist and the Jewish people that the Messiah would come as a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23: 5), they were unable to recognize him in his humble attire and gentle demeanor. The kingdom then changed to the cross that we must all carry.”
Contributed by: Rev. Kathaleen Sato/ NJ ACLC