“Shooting the messenger” is a phrase we use to describe blaming and punishing the person who delivers bad news as if they're responsible for the bad news itself.

It goes back to a time before we had modern, electronic communications like the telegraph, the 2-way radio, and the telephone - back when messages between warring camps went by actual, vulnerable, human messengers.  If one camp got a bad or insulting message they would take out their frustrations on the messenger, torturing and killing the unfortunate sap that brought the bad news.

Jesus actually gave us a parable about “shooting the messenger” (Luke 20:9-16) where the owner of a vineyard sent messengers to collect his money from the farmers leasing his property.  After the farmers beat up a few of the messengers, the owner sent his son - thinking the farmers would respect the son and pay up. But the farmers not only didn't like the message, they figured if the son was out of the way they could take over the vineyard.  So, they “shoot the messenger”, literally... they kill the vineyard owner's son.  Not one of the more inspiring parables - but it's there.

We Christians have received a “message” from God.  It’s a wonderfully joyous message - the good news of the Kingdom of God brought to us by Jesus, the Son of God.

We’re so grateful for Jesus' message that we thank him, we praise him, we glorify him, and we exalt him. Instead of shooting our messenger we deify him and worship him as God…

And, as Christians we’re actually doing pretty good and not shooting our messenger.  Nope.  We’re so grateful for Jesus' message that we thank him, we praise him, we glorify him, and we exalt him.  Instead of shooting our messenger we deify Him and worship Him as God…

… and shoot His message.

An entire religion has grown up around the messenger.  Christianity gets its name from “Cristos” or “Christ” - the Greek word for “messiah” or “anointed one” - the title we've bestowed on Jesus.  It’s a faith that has its foundation in the writings of St. Paul, an early church leader who, oddly enough, never new Jesus or heard his preaching and teaching - Paul never directly heard the “message” that Jesus delivered.  All he knew was that others believed Jesus was the “Messiah” and the savior of the world, that he was crucified by the Romans, and that God raised him from the dead.  Paul was also a Pharisee, someone trained in the Jewish Torah and the Jewish scriptures that hold the law and the history of the Jewish people.

So, since Paul couldn’t preach and write about Jesus’ message - which he knew nothing about - he preached and wrote about the messenger - Jesus himself - and how the messenger fit into the Jewish history, prophecy, and the worship structure he knew well.  He wrote about:

  • how the messenger was the long awaited “Messiah”
  • how the messenger’s death was payment for the sins of mankind
  • how the messenger’s resurrection from the dead was a model for the resurrection to eternal life for all believers

Now, all the stuff that Paul preached and wrote may be valid and true… but it’s not at all the message Jesus brought.  Jesus had a message of good news which we call the gospel.  . . . 

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