APOLOGIA (28) – Was Jesus the Messiah?

– Anastasios

Objection 1: How we can be sure that the Bible is talking about Jesus when it makes prophecies in the Old Testament?

Objection 2: The Jews, those who were waiting for the Messiah, did not recognize him as such.

On the contrary, in Luke (23:35) we read: “And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’”

I answer that the problem of the messianic waiting from the Jewish people, as we will see later, is in some way complex. Because here the problem is really about expectations, about the kind of Messiah they were waiting for. Some people also think that Jesus’ disciples accommodate his life so as to fit the Messianic prophecies. Of course this can be said of everyone: we may say that Napoleon’s biographer accommodate his story so as to fulfill the “Emperor narrative.” Jesus clearly presented Himself as the Messiah and it was up to everyone’s freedom to choose or reject Him.

Reply to objection 1: Biblical prophecies are accomplished in Jesus Christ. For example about his birth in Bethlehem we read in Micah (5:1-4): “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.” About the Virgin’s birth let us look at Isaiah (7:14): “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” About his sufferings in Isaiah again (53:12): “Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” We go on with Isaiah when talking about the miracles (35:5-10): “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.” And there will be many others where there is absolute coincidence between the prophecy and the life of Jesus.

Reply to objection 2: Did the Jews recognize Jesus as Messiah? Yes and no. Some of them reject him and persecute him but others were his followers. And indeed the first disciples come from Jews, as the Apostles. In a website called jewsforjesus.org, it is said, in answer to the fact that some Jews don’t believe in Him:  “To understand this, one must realize that by the time of Jesus, the messianic hope had become greatly politicized in the minds of the people. They were seeking deliverance from the tyranny of Rome. Although the Scripture spoke both of the sufferings and of the victories of the messiah, the victorious aspect had become uppermost in the minds of the common people because of Roman domination. This ‘lopsided’ view of the Messiah has stuck with many Jewish people, and the politicization of the messianic hope has continued to this day. This is not to say that all Jewish people rejected the claims of Jesus. On the contrary, all the first followers of Jesus were Jews. In fact, the rabbis of that time and afterwards were well aware of the many messianic prophecies which Christians claimed were fulfilled in Jesus. So, for instance, although the Talmudic rabbis concurred that Isaiah 53 was a prediction of the Messiah, by medieval times the pressure from those who applied this prophecy to Jesus was so great that Rashi, one of the greatest medieval Biblical scholars, reinterpreted the chapter and said it referred to the nation of Israel. This interpretation is maintained today by many Jewish scholars, though it only dates back to the Middle Ages.” So we can see that indeed many Jews recognize Him as the Saviour.

 

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