Did Not Recognize Him
Acts 13:27 (ESV) – For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.
Imagine awaiting someone for a long time only to have that person come and go unrecognized. Israel had long hoped for the Messiah to come. They awaited the promised offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). They knew of Isaiah’s vision of the suffering servant (Isaiah 53) and the coming light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42). All throughout their history, God had told them of the descendent of David and the prophet like Moses who would come. They waited. They prayed. Yet when the long-expected Savior arrived, they did not recognize Him.
This is what our passage today reminds us that happened. We read in Acts 13:27, “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.”
Paul is preaching in this text to Jews gathered in the synagogue in Gentile lands. He tells them that the people of Jerusalem and the religious leaders missed the Messiah. Jesus was the promised One of God, but they missed Him because they did not understand the very prophets that they had read. Those prophets and writings are read every Sabbath, yet they did not recognize Him when He stood before their very eyes. Even worse, they fulfilled the Scriptures by condemning Him to die.
They did not recognize Him. Why? Because they had their own expectations of what He was to look like and do. They created their own versions of the Messiah’s actions. Jesus didn’t fit their preconceived notions of Israel’s Redeemer. The result? They crucified the Righteous One as a common criminal because they despised Him. But in the wisdom of God, this had always been the plan. It was through that death that many sons and daughters are brought to glory.
Redemption comes through the sacrificial death of Christ for sinners. Those who recognize Him as the Savior sent from Heaven rejoice in Him. Yet even today, many do not recognize Him.
Give thanks today if you do recognize Him. Praise Him for His kindness in making Himself known. Pray for the people around your life that don’t recognize Him, who, like the people in the first-century during the time of Jesus, don’t realize who is standing before their eyes.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why didn’t the people of Jerusalem and religious leaders recognize Jesus?
- What does this teach us about our propensity to miss the mark?
- How should a passage like this encourage gratitude in us and evangelism to the world?
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