Jesus has been viewed by the majority of Christians as being the Messiah. He is the core founding figure upon which the religion of Christianity is anchored (Edersheim 673). His teachings, according to Christians, are believed to the best; thus, he is regarded as the Messiah. However, there are some people who hold to the idea that Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah. This paper aims to discuss the historical accounts that support the theory that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. The paper will also give the facts that have been provided to object this theory. A personal view on this theory will eventually be put forward.
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Historical Analysis of the doctrine “Jesus is the Jewish Messiah”
Those who believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah have numerous reasons on which they base their argument. However, most of them believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah because he fulfilled most of the promises that were prophesied he would accomplish. According to Norman (63), all the facts that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah are in the Hebrew Bible. These include information such as Jesus’ place of birth, the accomplishments that he would make during his lifetime, his persecution, resurrection, and many similar pieces of evidence.
As Norman (64) admits, there are many Bible verses that link Jesus to the Jewish Messiah. In Mic. 5.1, the Hebrew Scriptures say that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. This was later fulfilled when Jesus was, indeed, born in Bethlehem. According to “The English Standard Version Bible” Gen. 49.10, it was prophesied that the Messiah would hail from the tribe of Judah. As later recorded in the Greek scriptures, Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, who were from the tribe of Judah. Zech. 9.9 put it clearly that the Jewish Messiah would at one-point present himself riding on an ass. This was fulfilled when Jesus rode on a donkey as a sign of humility.
The book of Ps. 22. 1-31 had prophesied that Messiah would be persecuted and die. This happened when Jesus was tortured through whipping and piercing until he died. In the Hebrew book of Isa. 52.13-53, it was said that the Messiah would resurrect from the dead. This could have seemed impossible, as the dead were not expected to come back in the worldly form, as argued by Brown (193). However, Jesus rose from the dead, just three days after his death. These are quite important and supportive Hebrew Scriptures that those who believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah cling onto when advancing their arguments.
The Scriptures in the Greek, also known as the New Testament, are also supportive of the fact that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Most of the accomplishments of Jesus as the Messiah are recorded in the New Testament as a fulfilment of the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Scriptures (Edershein 14) According to the “New International Version” Jn. 4. 25-26, Jesus himself claimed to be the Messiah.
He answered a woman who seemed to be interested in knowing more about the Messiah by admitting that he was, indeed, the Messiah. This personal declaration has been viewed by many Christians as enough prove to warrant that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. According to Klausner (15), the inner “person” reveals what a person is. Klausner continues to say that the words of a person are a reflection of the inner “person”. It is a manifest of the true person. Therefore, it leads to the fact that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. His words, actions, and the fulfilment of many prophesy are enough evidences of Jesus being the Jewish Messiah.
There are several false messiahs that had appeared before and after the life of Jesus. As Brown (194) admits, the actions and validity of their messiah-ship were met with a lot of doubt and criticism. For example, Shabbetai and Kochba had each claimed to be the Messiah during their individual times. Jesus, however, was far much different from them because his coming, life, death, and resurrection were all prophesied in the Bible.
His lineage and place of birth were also given beforehand, as stated by Klausner (18). The manner in which Jesus carried out his miracles was different from what the false messiahs carried out theirs. According to Norman (70), a true Messiah would predict what his future life would be. This was impossible with the false prophets, but was true with Jesus. He prophesied about his death and resurrection and his prophecy came to happen exactly as he had said. For instance, he died on a cross, but resurrected on the third day. This is a compelling proof that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, as asserted by Edersheim (675). The resurrection of Jesus is believed to have happened because there had been previous resurrections that were performed by prophets like Elijah.
Another fact that supports the theory that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah is that his teachings are said to change people’s way of life. There are individuals who have been reported to have led a life that was not healthy; a life that did not have peace and joy because of hatred, wickedness, and sorrow (Skarsaune 226). However, Norman reports that there are many Christians who have been transformed by Jesus’ teachings (76). Such people are said to have believed Jesus and followed his teachings. According to Dan, there are no such teachings that can transform a person if they are not from the Jewish Messiah himself (120).
Objections to the validity that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah
Although there is overwhelming proof that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, there are objections to the same. There are those who think and hold to the belief that Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. According to Edershein, such people are waiting for the Messiah to come (17). They believe that the actual time for a Messiah has not arrived. Others despise the facts that are given to support Jesus as the Messiah by arguing that the facts are mere man-made stories co-joined with hallucinations (17).
Among the most believed reason why Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah is that Jesus himself did not fulfil most of the prophecies that were associated with the Messiah, according to the Hebrew Scriptures cited by Vermes (33). Such unfulfilled prophesies are recorded in the book of Ez. 37. 26-28. In this book, the Messiah is associated with the building of the temple for the third time. However, Jesus did not practically involve himself in the building of the temple, which creates the doubt that Jesus is the Messiah. The book of Isaiah 43: 5-6 states that the Messiah would gather all the Jews from the corners of the world and take them back to Israel.
Today, the Jews are spread all over the world; not all Jews are found in Israel. Vermes says that this fact also disqualifies Jesus as the Messiah that would be recognized and accepted by all the Jews (33). One of the truths that most Jews who do not believe that Jesus was their Messiah hold onto is found in Isa. 2.4. Here, there are prophecies that the Messiah would bring about peace in the world.
It is said that the Jewish Messiah would end the hatred and all manner of suffering that mankind goes through. However, Jesus did not fulfil this prophecy (Olan 464). In fact, he was quoted as saying that he did not come to bring peace, but hatred and division among people. His teachings would lead to divisions and blood between people of the same clan. This has been seen as a total contradiction to how the Hebrew scripture says about the true Messiah.
According to Vermes (45), there are other reasons that make it impossible for the majority of Jews to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. In Isa. 11.2, the Messiah was to be the greatest prophet that the earth has not witnessed after the leadership of Moses. This is not true, as Jesus has not acquired the status of Moses, as perceived by the Jews. There are many Hebrew Scriptures that prophesied the lineage that the true Jewish Messiah would hail from. Such scriptures include Isa. 11.1-9 and Ez. 34. 11-31. It is evident from these two scriptures that the Messiah was to be born from the lineage of David. This has been translated to indicate that the Messiah would be born of both parents who were from the lineage of David. In the case of Jesus, his father was more of a step-father than the real father because Jesus’ mother, Mary, conceived by the divine ability of the Holy Spirit, but not through Joseph. Therefore, Jesus is not seen by many Jews as being their Messiah (Emmert 20).
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According to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 13 and verse 1-4, any person that would defy the observance of the Torah qualified as a false prophet. Jesus, on the other hand, was on various occasions reported to have acted in violation of the Torah beliefs (Scholem 134). For example, he did not fully observe the Sabbath, as recorded in Jn. 9.14. This act has made many Jews deny the fact the Jesus was indeed their Messiah.
They had been observing the Torah law since the time Moses gave the laws to the Israelites. The violation by Jesus, therefore, disqualified him as the true prophet and their Messiah at large. The Hebrew Scriptures have very many attributes that an authentic Jewish Messiah would have. A majority of the attributes of a true Messiah has not been witnessed until now. To this effect, the Jews are waiting for their Messiah, who will deliver them from all corners of the world to the land of Israel, as stated by Vermes (48).
Personal view of the doctrine
From the discussion above, it is difficult to choose which side of the debate to join. Those advocating that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah have many scriptures that support their argument. On the other hand, those objecting the fact that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah have enough proof to support their argument too. One can only weigh the facts objectively and use prior teachings to act as a guide in deciding whether Jesus was the Jewish Messiah or not.
Using the Hebrew Scriptures, there are a number of prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. The fact that Jesus’ place of birth, his life, death, and resurrection were all prophesied and happened as expected convince one beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Jesus fulfilled many other promises like healing the sick and caring for the poor. Therefore, one can argue that Jesus was truly the Jewish Messiah. Christianity is one of the main religions in the world. It has been able to change the lives of many people who lived a life that was not appealing at all. There are many who have claimed to lead better lives after believing in the teachings of Jesus. It is, therefore, evident that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
Jesus has been regarded by some people as the Messiah, yet there are Jews who object that Jesus is their Messiah. Those who say that Jesus is their Messiah support their premise by saying that Jesus fulfilled many prophecies that were foretold of him in the Hebrew Scriptures. They also say that Jesus has transformed the lives of many people through his teachings. On the other hand, those who have objected to Jesus as being the Messiah have also given various instances where Jesus did not fulfil the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, it is not easy to believe or disagree with the fact that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
Dan, Joseph. “Scholem’s View of Jewish Messianism.” Modern Judaism 12.2(1992): 117-128. Print.
Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Longmans: Green, and Company, 1899. Print.
Emmert, Kevin P. “Jesus is More All Right with Jews.” Christianity Today 58.1 (2014): 20-20. Print.
Klausner, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching. New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1989. Print.
Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections. Grand Rapids: Bakers Books, 2000. Print
New International Version. [Colorado Springs]: Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com. Web.
Norman, Asher. Twenty-six Reasons why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus. Wishart, QLD: Black White and Read Publishing, 2007. Print
Olan, Levi A. “The Doctrine of the Chosen People Reaffirmed.” Judaism 29.4 (1980): 461-469. Print.
Scholem, Gershom. The Messianic Idea of Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality. New York: Schocken. 1995. Print.
Skarsaune, Oskar. “From the Jewish Messiah to the Creeds of the Church.” Evangelical Review of Theology 32.3 (2008): 224-237. Print.
The English Standard Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: a Historian’s Reading of the Gospels. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1981. Print.