When I see portraits of the Messiah, written or painted, I often wince at the weak, timid portrayals so often seen today.
Eyes rolled back and hands delicately poised, these representations paint a very specific picture – a picture of a Messiah who expects nothing and whom you can walk all over, a picture of grace without obedience, a picture of a new religion without Torah.
When you actually read the Gospel records, a very different portrait of Messiah comes into view.
The Messiah repeatedly laid out very clear expectations for us and then demonstrated them through his actions. He didn’t just sit on tree stumps with hands clasped and talk; he DID, and he expects us to DO.
He also did not sit idly by when others were doing wrong or speak to them in hushed tones about how their actions don’t matter as long as there is love in their hearts.
When he encountered the moneychangers in the Temple, did he not kick them to the curb and upturn their tables with swift and authoritative force? Did he not stand up and rebuke the manipulative religious leaders, exposing them as hypocrites, announcing the doomed fate of their path?
Is it a weak and timid man that does these things? No!
The Messiah has high expectations for you! He expects you to listen to his words and follow him, to emulate his actions.
Yes, the Messiah loves and told us to love each other, but love does not mean permissiveness to the point of indifference to our actions no matter how iniquitous.
How many of us love our children so much that we let them do whatever they want? Is that love?
When I think of the Messiah, I imagine him with a fire in his eyes, with strength and authority in his movements, with a booming voice and deep knowledge readable in his face. I imagine him with an undeniable intensity, walking in the power of the Torah.
That is the Messiah I listen to and the Messiah I strive to emulate.