Looming War: The Continuing Betrayal of Israel and Its Hope in Jesus the Messiah/Part 3
|By: John G. Weldon, PhD; ©2011|
|The New Testament as a whole teaches that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah hundreds of times — every time it refers to the terms “Jesus Christ,” “Christ Jesus,” or “(the) Christ.” Thus, “Jesus” (the Latin form of the Greek Iesous) is a transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua and means “the Lord (Yahweh) is salvation. This article looks at one Gospel, John, to see some examples of its teaching that Jesus is the Messiah.|
Looming War: The Continuing Betrayal of Israel and Its Hope in Jesus the Messiah
- “The situation of Israel is once again heading toward extreme peril.” — Marvin Olasky, May 18, 2011
- “The battle for the Jewish State’s survival promises to become even more intense in the coming months.” — www.OneJerusalem.org, June 3, 2011
Part Three: Jesus the Messiah
The New Testament as a whole teaches that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah hundreds of times — every time it refers to the terms “Jesus Christ,” “Christ Jesus,” or “(the) Christ.” Thus, “Jesus” (the Latin form of the Greek Iesous) is a transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua and means “the Lord (Yahweh) is salvation.” “Christ” comes from the Greek “Christos,” equivalent of the Hebrew Messias which means “anointed” or “Messiah.” Hence, the Person Jesus (meaning “the Lord is salvation”) is the Christ, or the anointed one of God, His Messiah. “Jesus Christ,” appropriately, became a proper name after the Resurrection. Indeed, even the 2 billion Christians in the world are testimony to Christ being the Messiah, the term “Christians” being related to Christos, again, the Greek word for Messiah.
But let’s look briefly at just one New Testament book (of 27), the Gospel of John, and supply some examples of its teaching that Jesus is the Messiah, despite the claims of rationalistic biblical critics and skeptics.
In the Scriptures below (and throughout the Gospels), note that every time, without exception, where people refer to Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus Himself never denies it but only accepts the claim as true. That would either make Him the Messiah or a rank fraud, and hardly anyone argues the latter.
The purpose of the Gospel of John is to persuade people to believe in Jesus Christ, i.e. that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah (John 20:30-31). The gospel stresses eyewitness testimony as to His miracles, divine nature and the fact of His resurrection from the dead, something that should, logically, be conceded a historic fact even by skeptics. (E.g., John 1:7-8, 34; 21:24) Ironically, “the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (John 1:10)
John testifies of Jesus, “And I have seen and have born witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:34) In the dozens of occasions when Jesus was spoken of or claimed to be the Son of God, this constituted fulfillment of messianic prophecy, a claim to be the Messiah, understood as such by the Jews as seen in the examples below (cf. Psalm 2:7-12; Isaiah 9:6; with 7:14 and Matthew 1:23; 2 Samuel 7:12-14) The phrase “the King of Israel” is also a messianic term referring to Israel’s future promised King from the lineage of King David.
In John chapter 1 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, speaking of Jesus testifies that “we have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41) Philip testified to Nathaniel, “we have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” a clear reference to Jesus fulfilling Messianic prophecy. (John 1:45) But Nathaniel was skeptical. However, after Jesus exhibited omniscience while speaking to him, his skepticism dissolved: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). Again, both these terms – “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” are clear references to Jesus being the Messiah.
In John chapter 4, Jesus directly told the Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah. The Samaritan woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming…” and Jesus replied, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26).
In John chapter 6 Jesus fed a crowd of thousands of people from a few fish and loaves of bread. This startling miracle so impressed the crowd that they concluded He must be the Messiah and thus: “they intended to come and make him king by force.” (John 6:15) In other words, they understood him to be the Messiah; none but the Messiah could be their King.
In John chapter 7 some of the people of Jerusalem asked, “Can it be that the [Jewish] authorities really know that this is the Christ?” And, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs and this man has done?” (John 7:26, 31) In all these cases, and in those below, Jesus never corrected people by saying He was not the Messiah.
In John chapter 10 we find another straightforward declaration by Jesus that He is the Messiah:
“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, …” (John 10:22-25)
In the same chapter He makes a straightforward claim that “I am the Son of God” (John 10:37), appealing to his divine miracles and doing the works of God the Father. “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-39)
In John Chapter 11 Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha’s response to Jesus was “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27)
Not just the disciples and Jesus’ close friends believed, but as noted many Jews of Jesus day believed that He was the Messiah – the Gospels provide several illustrations. During His triumphal entry into Jerusalem a “large crowd” was present. When they heard that Jesus was coming into the city, they took palm branches and went out to meet him crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” Far from rejecting the claims of this large crowd of people, Jesus openly encouraged them and proceeded to intentionally fulfill messianic prophecy: “And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’” (John 12:12-15; Zechariah 9:9)
Near the end of his Gospel the apostle John writes, “Now Jesus did many other [miraculous] signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31, emphasis added)
We are barely past the first half of the Gospel of John and we still have 26 other New Testament books to examine. Consider just two final examples from Matthew. Matthew in particular provides carefully detailed evidence that Jesus as the Messiah, fulfilling numerous prophecies and performing divine miracles.
First, while on trial Jesus directly affirms before the high priest himself and the Sanhedrin, under oath before God, that He is the Messiah (Matthew 26:64-66)
Second, Jesus not only acknowledges but blesses Peter’s confession of Him as the Messiah: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven…. Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:15-18) (The reason Jesus warned his disciples not to spread the word that he was the Messiah is due in part to the large variety of messianic expectations in first century Judea. For example, Jesus was coming to be a suffering deliver, not a political one, who delivered from sin, not Roman oppression. As we see from the Gospels, on at least one occasion the crowd attempted to force Jesus to become their King. Thus, there was a risk that if he gathered a large political following and became widely accepted as a political deliver, he could become a threat to the Roman Empire in that he claimed to be a King (Matthew 23:2), a potential threat to Caesar and public order.
Beyond doubt, only Jesus fulfilled scores of specific Messianic prophecies written 500-1,000 years before He was born (Isaiah Chs. 9, 53; see note #21). This fact plus His direct claims to be the Messiah and His acceptance of the claims of many others that He was the Messiah, as well as the historic fact of His resurrection from the dead are definitive. There is other corroboration; for example, in Matthew, He is Lord of the Sabbath, the sign of Jonah, King David’s son and LORD (Matthew 22:41-45), the divine judge of all humanity; and His words are equal to God’s words.
Regardless of what anyone else thinks or claims, Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. If Jesus isn’t the Messiah, there is no Messiah.
Consider for a moment the persuasive power of His resurrection from the dead. Throughout Jewish history, no other person claiming to be the Jewish Messiah ever claimed (on multiple occasions) that he would rise from the dead and then proceeded to do it. The late Canadian Jewish New Testament scholar Pinchas Lapide agreed in The Resurrection of Jesus: a Jewish Perspective. Lapide was an Israeli diplomat and historian, Orthodox Jew and Jewish theologian who concluded that the best explanation for the historic evidence is that the God of Israel raised Jesus physically from the dead — no small testimony from a non-believer in Jesus.
Despite the scholarly skepticism that prevailed when Prof. Hick edited The Myth of God Incarnate in 1977 (Lapide’s book was published in German just two years later), “Today there is virtually a consensus that Jesus came on the scene with unheard-of authority, namely with the authority of God, with the claim of the authority to stand in God’s place.”
And in 2000 years, no one has ever disproven Christ’s authority, or His resurrection from the dead, or that He was the Jewish Messiah.
One would think it would be obvious that if anyone in the world is worth knowing, it is God. What a wonder – to personally know a being of infinite perfection, joy and glory!
May our Jewish friends and all readers come to know Jesus anew, as their Messiah and LORD, in all His wonder, and in so doing experience the glory of God, their true spiritual potential and everlasting life.
- “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (Jn. 6:47)
- “And this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 )
- Marvin Olasky, “In Coming Years Israel Could Face Problems Threatening its Existence,” May 18, 2011; http://www.crosswalk.com/news/israel-insights/in-coming-years-israel-could-face-problems-threatening-its-existence.html.
- No historian has ever given an adequate explanation other than the Christian one. For example, as New Testament professor Ben Witherington III observes, “A historian has to explain how the high Christology of the church could have arisen after the unexpected and precipitous demise of Jesus through crucifixion….On any showing the crucifixion should have put an end to the Jesus movement once and for all in an honor and shame culture like early Judaism.” (Ben Witherington III, “Jesus of the seer,” in Paul Copeland, William Lane Craig (Eds) Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors 2009, 112).
- In the synoptic Gospels generally, Jesus clearly united His Messiahship with His death and resurrection (hence His deity; Mark 8:29-31; Luke 9:20-22; Matthew 16:16-21)
- = See the books on Christ’s resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas, esp. Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus; Also, Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach and NT Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God. Factual in the sense of “verified information about the past,” “something known to have happened,” having “the quality of being actual.” So much of what passes for modern scholarship today, even the best of scholarship, isn’t that at all, but simply a core bias covered in seeming scholarship. The truth is that the available historical evidence is conclusive – we can know with certainty that what we read in the New Testament is what was originally written. As three authentic biblical scholars conclude in Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture, “There is simply no room for uncertainty about what the New Testament originally taught.” And “… all of the evidence points to the biblical Jesus as the real Jesus.” (Page 117, 260) =
- According to the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27; See Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (online copy at: http://philologos.org/__eb-tcp/) ; Sam Shamoun, “The Messiah Revealed,” at: http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/messiah/messiah.htm.
- At places, his testimony is uneven. He did not conclude that Jesus was the Messiah for the Jews (but rather the Gentiles), however he allegedly elsewhere stated that if, when the Messiah returned it was Jesus, he wouldn’t be surprised. (Cf. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision 2010, 219)
- William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision 2010, 215