Question of the Week: Christ's Social Acceptance as Messiah?

On August 21st, Derek Absher submitted this question to the Mentionables:

If Christ were to return, would society recognize the messiah or lock him up for mental health reasons cuz, you know, he said he was the messiah? What would be the possible ramifications of those actions?

Here are the answers from the team.

 By Jean Cousin the Younger, also called Jehan Cousin Le Jeune (lived c. 1522–1595). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jean Cousin the Younger, also called Jehan Cousin Le Jeune (lived c. 1522–1595). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is the answer from Tyler Vela. For answers from Joel Furches, Bill Schnackenberg and Marc Lambert, scroll below

This is an interesting question only if we thought that the 2nd coming was like the first - quiet, in an out of the way corner of the world. However, the NT teaching on this is clear. When Christ returns it will be global and eschatological - it will bring a close to human history as we know it. It will not be up to us to judge Jesus but he will now judge the world. 

This is the answer from Joel Furches For answers from Bill Schnackenberg and Marc Lambert, scroll below

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This is more of a social question than a theological one.

Theologically, Christ’s return will be one of overwhelming power. No one could possibly mistake him for anything but the Messiah, because that is how he will appear and act. No human hand could possibly restrain or confine him, because he will be overtly God, and omnipotent in power.

Assuming some hypothetical scenario where he comes to earth as a human claiming to be the Messiah, it is fairly easy to say what would happen:

He would garner a few followers who actually believe him. His following would grow as he performed miracles – giving his claims some validity. He would also gain enemies – largely religious – who refused to believe that he was Messiah, and whom he would overtly condemn for their unbelief. His religious enemies would eventually put some political force behind their attempts to silence him – and then he would eventually be executed.

We know this is the way events would play out, because that is exactly what happened when he did come to earth as a man claiming to be Messiah.

This is the answer from Bill Schnackenberg. For the answer from Marc Lambert, scroll below

Hello Derek,

We are always pleased to help individuals with the questions that they may have, so I hope this helps.

Your question begins with the wrong assumption, it is not a matter of “if” Christ were to return, it is more of “when” He does.

It will be very tough for society to “lock Jesus up for mental reasons,” He will not have to go around proclaiming who He actually is, in fact, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels declared to the apostles,

“‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:11)

Matthew 24:30 declares, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”

Titus 2:13 describes the second coming as a “glorious appearing.”

Revelation 19:11-16, describes,  “ heaven standing open” and “The armies of heaven following him”

This event will not be missed by anyone, and believers will no longer have to spend their time defending the faith, because Jesus will finally be known to the world.

Have a great day.

William H Schnakenberg IV

Author/Chaplain

Pastoral Apologist

This is the answer from Bill Schnackenberg

We would first need to understand what is being imagined when you think of Christ returning.

If what you mean is His return according to Christian teachings of end times, then regardless of which interpretation one takes, when Christ returns there will be no mistaking who He is or what is going on. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords coming to judge the nations. There is no scenario where He will not be recognized or where men would have the ability to “lock him up.”

However, if what you mean is if Christ were to walk the streets now days as He did back then, I imagine how people would react today is pretty much exactly how they reacted 2,000 years ago. The events at the Feast of Tabernacles recorded in John 7 give us an excellent view at how people typically respond to Jesus. Human nature hasn’t changed in all that time.

  • Some would accept Him.

  • Some would reject Him.

  • Some would be confused not sure what to think.

  • And others would want to examine His claims and deeds before passing judgment.

Some would see the evidence of His miraculous deeds, the fulfilled prophecies, and the soul piercing truth of His words and they would be convinced.

Others would be just like the religious leaders of the day 2,000 years ago and being entrenched in their own power and position and tradition, they will never consider the possibility. Even going so far as resorting to willful ignorance and silencing anyone who says otherwise. 
Some people, like the temple guard sent to arrest Jesus, while remaining part of the system opposing Him, are still astonished at Him. They are unable to fully accept Him, yet cannot bring themselves to oppose Him either.

And still others like Nicodemus would be a voice of reason saying, “Do we judge a man before we have heard him out?”

Jesus being who He is, I imagine any attempts made in the present to “lock Him up” would go about the same way they went 2,000 years ago. We see repeated attempts (and subsequent failures) of people to seize or kill Jesus. Even when they finally came to arrest Him in Gethsemane, it was only His willing cooperation that allowed the soldiers to go through with it and take Him into custody.

So I do not imagine it would go very different now than it did then.