The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is Jesus the Messiah?

I was quite surprised that this question hasn’t been explicitly asked on this forum yet, so I’m going to start it off. I’m on quite a good heresy streak lately, so I might as well keep on going.

I’ve been questioning why the Jews rejected Jesus and why there is so much backlash from the Jewish community. They must have had SOME important reasons for doing so, but I feel Christians in general have not done well in looking through their perspective. We just judge them, while saying that their hearts and minds are hardened. But is this actually true?

There are differing views on this but I think they expected the Messiah to fulfil 6 different things.

  1. He must be Jewish. ( Deuteronomy. 17:15, Numbers 24:17 )

  2. He must be a member of the tribe of Judah ( Genesis 49:10 ) and a direct male descendant of King David ( I Chronicles 17:11, Psalms 89:29-38, Jeremiah 33:17, II Samuel 7:12-16 ) and King Solomon.

( I Chronicles 22:10, II Chronicles 7:18 )

  1. He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel. ( Isaiah 27:12-13, Isaiah 11:12 )

  2. He must rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. ( Micah 4:1 )

  3. He must bring world peace. ( Isaiah 2:4, Isaiah 11:6, Micah 4:3 )

  4. He must influence the entire world to acknowledge and serve one G-d. ( Isaiah 11:9, Isaiah 40:5, Zephaniah 3:9 )

All of these criteria for the Messiah are best stated in chapter 37:24-28 of the book of Ezekiel:

and My servant David will be a king over them, and they will all have one shepherd, and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them, and they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant…and I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their G-d and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever. ” ( Ezekiel 37:24-28 )

A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that, although Jesus was Jewish, he did not fulfill any of the other criteria. An examination of the contradictory accounts of Jesus’ genealogy demonstrates a number of difficulties with the fulfillment of the second criterion. Specifically, the New Testament claims that Jesus did not have a physical father. The Jewish Scriptures, however, clearly states that a person’s genealogy and tribal membership is transmitted exclusively through one’s physical father ( Numbers 1:18, Jeremiah 33:17 ). Therefore, Jesus cannot possibly be a descendant of the tribe of Judah nor of King David and King Solomon.

There are even further problems with any attempts to use the Jewish Scriptures to prove Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph, the husband of Mary (Jesus’ mother).

For the New Testament claims that Joseph was a descendant of King Jeconiah, who in the Hebrew Bible was cursed to never have a descendant “ sitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah ” ( Jeremiah 22:30 ). Joseph’s genealogy, even if it were transmittable to Jesus, would only serve to further disqualify Jesus as the Messiah.

Finally, there is the problem of the contradictory accounts of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew, Chapter 1 and Luke, Chapter 3. The common Christian explanation of this contradiction claims that Luke’s genealogy is that of Jesus’ mother, Mary. However, this is unfounded, even according to the Greek original. In addition, it has already been established that genealogy is transferred solely through the father, making this attempted explanation completely irrelevant. Even if one could trace one’s genealogy through one’s mother, there would be the additional problem in that Luke 3:31 lists Mary as a descendant of David through Nathan, Solomon’s brother, and not through Solomon himself as is prophesied in I Chronicles 22:10 of the Jewish Bible.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth criteria have obviously not been fulfilled, either during Jesus’ time or since. Any Christian claims that these final criteria will be fulfilled in a “ Second Coming ” are irrelevant because the concept of the Messiah coming twice has no scriptural basis.

To summarize, we cannot know that someone is the Messiah until he fulfills all of the above criteria.

The Christian understanding of the Messiah and Jesus differs greatly from the Jewish biblical view.

If you respond to this, please use scripture to refute the above. Specifically, I want to know why there is such a discrepancy between the OT promises of the Messiah, and that of Jesus.

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Yes, my Gospels’ studies on this site reflect strong agreement that this is graphically the case!
Influenced by N.T. Wright’s reading, they argue that Jesus and the N.T. view of Jesus’ Messiahship
involves a profound reinterpretation of this concept and the relevant texts.

It’s difficult to know the O.T. and not sympathize with the Jewish Biblicist opposition to Jesus and
any claims to be faithful to the literal demands and promises of Hebrew Scripture. On the other hand,
I find the direction of the evolving ‘Christian’ reinterpretation a compelling and attractive advance
upon many of the O.T. themes, which is justification enough for me.

Thanks for your input Bob. The more I read the OT, the more I see just how different the two sides are. Honestly, you would think they would be quite similar, yet in reality they are SOOO far apart.

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Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22 ESV)

The word translated as “Christ” is “χριστος” (christos) which means “anointed one.” Jesus is the Anointed One of God.

Consider the following passage:

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).—John 1:40,41)

So Andrew declared to his brother Peter that they had found the Messiah. John also stated here that Messiah (μεσσιας) “messias” and that it means (χριστος) “christos”. Thus either “messias” or “christos” ,means “anointed one.” So Jesus is “the Anointed One” or the Messiah.

But the best proof is that Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah:

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:25,26)

The year I attended “The Winnipeg Bible Institute,” as part of my practical work, I went out on Jewish visitation in Winnipeg. I used to show Jewish people Isaiah 53 in three languages: English, Yiddish, and Hebrew. I showed it to one Jewish man, and he read it. I asked him if he had ever seen that passage before, and he said that he hadn’t. Then I asked him, “About whom do you think that passage speaks?” He replied, “Why, ha Mashiach, of course!” (Why the Messiah, of course).

So I am not convinced that the Jewish view of the Messiah, is all that different from the Christian view.

Their rejection of him may have been in reaction to his rejection of their view as the what that all meant and how it was to outplay, which was quite different to their expectations…

Jn 6:15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

My kingdom” as Jesus goes on later to testify was… “not of this world” i.e., not of, or according to their expectations. Such carnality even touched the disciples’ understanding as seen here…

Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

You’ll notice Jesus doesn’t fully buy into this worldly assumption either, BUT rather, he lifts their gaze to the promised outpouring of the Spirit… thereafter all manner of that kind of thinking ceased.

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I recognize your six points as coming from the literature of “Jews for Judaism” (a counter-Christian group that arose in reaction to the evangelistic success among Jews by the “Jews for JESUS” organization).

Regarding the apparent contradictions in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke, here is some food for thought in the following discussion titled, “Objection 5.10: Matthew and Luke’s genealogies of Jesus are contradictory”:

Directly related to something Dr. Michael Brown (a Jewish Christian) mentions in the above video regarding the possibility of levirate marriage in Mary’s genealogy of Jesus—through Nathan, not Solomon—here is an excerpt of another discussion titled, “Is the Messiah a Descendant of King Solomon?” from Chabad.org, a non-Christian Judaism web site (emphasis mine):

…[I]t is interesting to note that while it is clear from all of the above sources that the Messiah will be a descendant of King Solomon, the Zohar seems to state that Moshiach will actually be a descendant of Nathan, a different son of David. Expounding on the verse Isaiah 40:9, “Upon a lofty mountain ascend, you who brings good tidings to Zion,” the Zohar states:

“You who bring good tidings to Zion” is Hephzibah, the wife of Nathan son of David, who is the mother of Messiah, Menachem son of Amiel. She shall go out and bring the tidings . . .”[4]

The famed 20th-century Jewish scholar and kabbalist Rabbi Reuven Margolies explains that the Zohar is careful to describe the Moshiach as being a descendant of Nathan’s wife, rather than of Nathan himself. Nathan had passed away childless, and Solomon his brother married his widow, according to the laws of yibum, levirate marriage.[5]

In a levirate marriage, the firstborn son of the widow and the brother of the deceased is considered to be a continuation of the dead husband’s line. Therefore, Moshiach is referred to here as “offspring” of Nathan, even though he is a descendant of King Solomon.[6]

Lastly,

What about Messiah coming as lowly, and yet also as a conqueror (Zechariah 9:9-17)?

And Daniel 9:24-27 warns that the Messiah will initially be “put to death,” and then eventually be followed by the Antichrist.

@Paidion Could you please use OT scripture to identify why Jesus is the Messiah. It can easily just be considered circular reasoning to use the NT to confirm itself.

You could definitely see the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 to be Israel, and not Jesus.

" But you, O Israel, My servant, Jacob, you whom I have chosen, offspring of Abraham who loved Me…and to whom I shall say: ‘You are my servant’ - I have chosen you and not rejected you. " ( Isaiah 41:8-9 )

" But hear now Jacob, My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen! " ( Isaiah 44:1 )

" Remember these things, Jacob and Israel, for you are My servant: I fashioned you to be My servant: Israel do not forget Me! " ( Isaiah 44:21 )

" …for the sake of My servant Jacob and Israel, My chosen one: I have proclaimed you by name… " ( Isaiah 45:4)

" …say, 'Hashem (God) has redeemed His servant Jacob. " ( Isaiah 48:20 )

" …You are my servant, Israel, in whom I take glory. " ( Isaiah 49:3 )

" But as for you, do not fear My servant Jacob, the word of Hashem (G-d) and do not be afraid, Israel… " ( Jeremiah 30:10 )

" A heritage for Israel, His (God’s) servant, for His kindness endures forever. " ( Psalms Chapter 136:22 )

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I think the way to verify “THE” Jewish view of something is not to ask “one Jewish man” (a target who might want to avoid a debate with a Christian evangelizer about Jesus and texts). It is to survey what Jewish teachers widely teach and to ask lots of them their definition of Messiah. Having studied and asked many, including my Jewish relatives, I find that Jesus’ interpretation does not represent the usual Jewish definition of Messiah at all, and indeed that sharp rejection of the Christian conception is a core theme among Jews. Jews typically read Isaiah to describe Israel and not as messianic at all.

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@Hermano Yes that is true. I’ve been going back and forth between both sites for a while now to see which one is more thought out.

This one is going to take a while for my head to get around. It does seem contradictory that it would go through a woman, as all other scripture places genealogies through men. Will get back to you after I’ve looked at it more.

But does Hermano’s quote suggest that? It appears to confirm that the line goes back through the man who was father of both the dead husband and the dead husband’s brother

That may well be true in modern times but the important thing is how the Jews interpreted Isaiah 53 before and around the time of Christ:

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Are you then convinced most BC Jews affirmed that Israel’s own Messianic son of David would actually be slaughtered by Israel? If so, which B.C. documents confirm this interpretation of the Servant texts?

Given the 1st century timeframe for eschatology in the NT, I think believing that Jesus was the messiah (as I do) requires a radically non-literal reading of many prophecies from both the OT and NT. Orthodox Jews reject Jesus in large part because prophecies weren’t literally fulfilled. However, if you read the Talmud and post-Talmudic rabbinic literature, you’ll see that the rabbis also cited OT verses to teach things radically different than what the OT texts appear to teach. If you’re going to be sceptical of Christianity for its use of the OT, make sure you hold Judaism to the same standard. That is, it’s not a simple case of Jesus and the apostles ascribing meanings to OT texts that probably weren’t in the original authors’ minds, while the Jews have just gone by what the OT texts say.

Regarding the claim about the rebuilding of the Temple, the NT teaches that we are the temple. See 1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:19-22; 1 Pet 2:4-5.

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@Invernessian Yea, I said that as it just seems so contradictory to typical belief. Ie. Iv’e always heard that it’s gone through the male.

@Hermano I watched the video you sent, and he seems to have some good thoughts. If the whole levarite marriage thing is correct, that could explain it. However, considering that it could go through multiple generations before Jesus, seems like calculated speculation. But I would need to look into it more.

@qaz Yea thats why its such a difficult thing to look into. Im really battling with the idea that because Jesus came, the understanding was spiritualised.

@Hermano I personally don’t see Daniel 9:24-27 and Zechariah 9:9-17 as fact with your view right now. You can enter in any amount of theories with those verses - that of which people have been doing. What the article was saying was that there is not any explicit mention of the messiah dying and coming again in the OT. Therefore speculation has to be done in order to reach that conclusion. Again, I have to look deeper - but do you have any other reasoning for your view on this?

Why have you misquoted me Bob?

Maybe I misunderstood your statement (and if so, I apologize)? With ellipsis I sought to emphasize what I read your position to be. I thought you did precisely state and hold that what was “important” was how Jews interpreted Isaiah 53 before Christ and his crucifixion had influenced views of that text (which I agree is the salient question). Does that citation distort your view and its substance??

I think we’ve been here before with this topic Bob.
For me, the important question is whether the Jewish idea that Isaiah 53 is not messianic is a late re-interpretation reacting against its support for Jesus Christ. I have given you sources which are even as late as the middle ages demonstrating that Jews viewed Isaiah 53 as alluding to the coming Messiah.
If you have sources earlier than this suggesting otherwise, please cite them.

Yes, I knew we’d debated if Jews widely saw Isaiah 53 as messianic before Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, and that you believe that they did. Indeed, Isaiah names the suffering servant as Israel,
but chapter 53 narrows this figure to one Israelite who is slaughtered by his own people.

That is why I thus asked if you believe Jews in Jesus’ day must assume that they of Israel would ultimately kill Messiah’s “Anointed” Davidic deliverer? Given your view, is that a logical conclusion?