"They were ready for a Messiah, in the abstract, but not for such a Messiah as Jesus was in reality. The great stumbling block to them was Christ's threat as Messiah to interpenetrate their very existence in such a way as to cut across their cherished ideas and desires and ambitions. They wanted Christ to subserve the notion of their own religiousness and were furious when he touched them at the point of their religious pride, and so by the pressure of his very presence as the incarnate truth he evoked from them the full movement of sin in undisguised contradiction." (Thomas F. Torrance)
Torrance unveils a Messianic struggle that I believe continues to cripple the Church and corrupt the hearts of believers today. Our theology embraces the idea of Messiah (the abstract) but our ecclesiology seems to be in constant conflict with the reality of Messiah. In other words, the reality of who Jesus is is in conflict with whom the Church has made Him. I am of course making a generalisation to highlight a continual conflict that exists between religious tradtion and Messianic truth today.
Some time ago I preached a sermon series entitled "Signs, Symbols and Sacred Songs" that evoked a strong reaction when I suggested that our religious symbols and rituals become a form of idolatry when they become more important than whom or what they represent. I saw the manifestation of our church wanting "Christ to subserve the notion of their own religiousness and were furious when he touched them at the point of their religious pride." While religion can be a great vehicle through which to express our understanding and experience of God, it can be a great stumbling block when it is threatened by the reality and truth of Jesus Christ!
It is only when we submit ourselves to the reality of Messiah and allow Christ "to interpenetrate [our] very existence in such a way as to cut across [our] cherished ideas and desires and ambitions" and strip away our "religious pride" that we can be truly ready to fully embrace the incarnate truth of Jesus.