Thursday, February 22, 2007

messiah complex

I remember initially hearing of a phenomenon while reading "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. So I went off to research it for myself. Apparently back in 1993, the mainstream press picked up on something that was happening in Brooklyn, New York. In a community known as Crown Heights you will find the home to 20,000 Lubavitcher Hasidic Jews. It is a conservative branch of Orthodox Judaism. And in the early 90’s many of them believed that the long-awaited Messiah had come.

The object of all this attention was an amazing man of God, a holy man who had done much to spread passion for Judaism around the world. His name was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

He lived in the back room of a synagogue. His health was failing.

But on rare occasions he would make an appearance. And when he did…on those days, word among the Lubvitcher Orthodox Jews would spread like wildfire. They had a whole network of beepers, and pagers and cells phones. All of a sudden, the sidewalks would be filled with men in black coats and curly sideburns. All rushing to the synagogue. Their Rabbi had called.

Here’s a picture of the building. Before you knew it the main hall of this building was jam-packed. Every seat filled. The outer walls lined with people. People even climbing up, hanging on to the pillars. All to catch a glimpse of this man. Their hope of salvation.

Rabbi Schneerson (at this point) was 91 years old. The year before, he had suffered a stroke and now was unable to speak. But when the curtain pulled back, energy pulsated through the room as the crowd saw the frail old man, with his long traditional beard. Everyone watched his every move, but all he could manage was a slight wave, a tilt of his head and to move his eyebrows a little bit.

Slowly and steadily the crowd began to chant and sing. Over and over they lifted their voices in the song of “Yechi Adoneinu”. Their words in Hebrew “Long live our Master, our teacher and our Rabbi, King, Messiah, forever and ever!”. They sang louder and louder… the crowd in a frenzy of worship.

But after a moment, their Rabbi (the one they believed to be the Messiah, their Savior)…he made a small gesture with his hand and the curtain would close. Even today, there are video clips on their website of his public appearances in Brooklyn.

The next year (June 1994), Rabbi Schneerson died. Many Lubavitcher Hasidic Jews are now anxiously anticipating his bodily resurrection. They believe that He is the one. The long-awaited one.

Now, admit it. To you and me, it sounds kind of sad. I mean, c’mon. A crippled old guy from Brooklyn, New York? The Messiah? How foolish is that? What are they thinking?

UNTIL… you realize something. Are they really any different from me? You see, OUR reaction to that story (which is a true story, there are still many waiting for Rabbi Schneerson to rise again)… But you do realize that OUR reaction, is no different than how many viewed Jesus in the 1st Century?

They thought: the Messiah? I mean, c’mon:
- From Galilee, some Podunk little town?
- From a poor family?
- His dad’s a carpenter.
- You know what they say about his mom Mary. She wasn’t married when she got pregnant. She was cheating on her fiancé.
- He’s from the back woods
- And he’s got a funny accent.
Those guys from Galilee, what are they thinking? There’s no way this Jesus guy could be the Messiah.

And you know, Jesus was just one of many. All over the countryside there were these Prophets who would pop up. Some even doing miracles. Some with great crowds of disciples. When Jesus came along, many people said, “Well, we’ve seen this game before. He’s just like all the rest.”……

OR is He? Is there something more?

Explore for yourself. Discover who Jesus is, and you may be surprised to find that He has the power to transform your life.