The Godhead – Jesus Christ

 

 

Jesus of Nazareth is not the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible for He did not do any of the things that the Jewish Scriptures said the Messiah would do

 

 

 

Most of the Jews affirm that Jesus of Nazareth is not the Messiah, for He did not fulfil the mission of the Messiah as it is described in the Jewish Scriptures. In other words, Jesus did not do any of the things that the Scriptures said the Messiah would do. Let us see then the things that the Messiah - according to the Jews - will do when he comes? The Messiah will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by bringing the Jews back to Israel and restoring Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5); he will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1); he will rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship (Jeremiah 33:18); he will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15).

David Berger and Michael Wyschogrod in their booklet Jews and ‘Jewish Christianity’, whose purpose is to explain why Jews ought not to become Christians or Jewish Christians, say about the Messiahship of Jesus: ‘Let us begin with the fundamental belief that Jesus was – and is – the Messiah. Since the very word Christ means Messiah, this belief lies at the heart of the Christian faith. But how do we go about testing the claim that Jesus was the Messiah? The first thing to remember is that the term Messiah gets its basic meaning from Biblical prophecy; it is only because of such prophecy that people expected the Messiah in the first place. Any person claiming to be the Messiah must, therefore, be able to pass a very exacting test: Has he done what the Bible expects of the Messiah? We must begin, then, by taking a look at the Bible as a whole. How would the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible be described by someone who had just read the text for the first time without any knowledge of either Judaism or Christianity? If our hypothetical friend were a perceptive reader, his first observation would be that the word messiah simply refers to any king or high priest who was anointed with oil in accordance with the custom of ancient Israel. There is, however, a rather special king from the House of David who is described in several Biblical passages as the man who will preside over a redeemed and perfected world. Eventually, Jews came to use the word Messiah (this time the capital M is justifiable) to refer to that king, and it is in this context that any man claiming to be the Messiah must be judged. In other words, the only way to define ‘the Messiah’ is as the king who will rule during what we call the Messianic age. The central criterion for evaluating a Messiah must therefore be a single question: Has the Messianic age come? It is only in terms of this question that ‘the Messiah’ means anything. What, then, does the Bible say about the Messianic age? Here is a brief description by a famous Christian scholar: ‘The recovery of independence and power, an era of peace and prosperity, of fidelity to God and his law, of justice and fair-dealing and brotherly love among men, and of personal rectitude and piety’ (G. F. Moore, Judaism, II, page 324). If we think about this sentence just for a moment in light of the history of the last two thousand years, we will begin to see what enormous obstacles must be overcome if we are to believe in the messianic mission of Jesus. If Jesus was the Messiah, why have suffering and evil continued and even increased in the many centuries since his death?’ (David Berger/Michael Wyschogrod, Jews and ‘Jewish Christianity, KTAV Publishing House, New York 1978, pages 18-19). In the light of all the above mentioned arguments, therefore, Jesus of Nazareth is simply one of the false Jewish Messiahs who have risen up from among the Jewish people during their history.

 

Confutation

 

Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, for He fulfilled the mission of the Messiah which God foretold through the prophets of old. According to the prophetic Scriptures, the Messiah had to die for our sins and rise again from the dead for our justification, and Jesus of Nazareth died for our sins and rose again for our justification.

Here is what the prophet Isaiah said about the atoning death of the Messiah: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:2-12). The above mentioned words of Isaiah were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. For those who dwelt in Jerusalem and their rulers condemned Him to death (even though He had gone about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him) and asked Pilate, governor of Judea, that He should be put to death. Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested, even though he had found no reason for death in Jesus. So Jesus was brought to the place called Golgotha, which was outside Jerusalem, and there He was crucified with two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. And after He breathed His last, He was laid in a tomb which belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus who was a rich man (Matthew chapters 26-27).

Here is what David said about the resurrection of the Messiah: “My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:9-10 – NKJV). The words of David were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, for after three days God raised Him from the dead, and He was seen by His disciples. Here is what Luke wrote concerning the resurrection of Jesus: “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest” (Luke 24:1-9). The apostle John – one of the Twelve disciples of Jesus - confirms the resurrection of Jesus, saying: “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:19-29).

Jesus Himself, during the days of His flesh, declared very clearly that He came into the world to die and rise again from the dead. One day He explained to His disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21 – NIV), and on another day, going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19 – NKJV).

In the light of the Scriptures, therefore, Jesus the Messiah did not have to bring about the political redemption of the Jewish people; nor did He have to establish a government in Israel that would be the center of all world government, both for Jews and Gentiles; nor did He have to rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship; nor did He have to restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land; nor did He have to usher in an age of peace and righteousness. All these things had nothing to do with the mission of the Messiah. That is confirmed by the fact that Jesus, after His resurrection, rebuked the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, for they had believed that He had come to redeem Israel from the Romans rather than from their sins; hear what He said to them: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26 – NKJV).

Someone may ask at this point, ‘The prophetic Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah had to die and rise again, why then do the Jews fail to understand them?’ Well, the reason why the Jews fail to understand the passages of the Scriptures which speak of the atoning death and the resurrection of the Messiah is that “a veil lies on their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:15 – NKJV), that is to say, because God has blinded their minds, so that they are unable to understand the Scriptures. However, when Jesus returns from heaven all the Jews will turn to the Lord and the veil will be taken away.

 

 

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