Jesus the Messiah



The Anointed King

The Old Testament promises a coming King, one who is "Anointed:"

"You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." (Psalm 45:7).
"I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,
With whom My hand shall be established;
Also My arm shall strengthen him." (Psalm 89:20).

. . .as were the Kings of ancient Israel:

“Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?’" (1 Samuel 10:1).

The word 'Messiah' means 'Anointed One,' as the king is called in Hannah's Song: “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed [משׁיח mashiyach].” (1 Samuel 2:10). The Greek word from which 'Christ' is derived literally translates the Hebrew term. This new David will liberate His people,

“‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (Jeremiah 30:8-9).

This King will shepherd God's people in the latter days:

"Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken." (Ezekiel 34:21-24).



The Messiah is to be prophet, priest and king. Prophet: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren." (Deuteronomy 18:15), and priest:

"The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4).

These office holders may also be anointed for service, "You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests." (Exodus 28:40); "Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place." (1 Kings 19:16).

It is apparent from the Old Testament that there must be two advents, because God's Anointed comes once with glory, and once in humiliation:



  • “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
    And as a root out of dry ground.
    He has no form or comeliness;
    And when we see Him,
    There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
    He is despised and rejected by men,
    A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
    And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
    He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
    Surely He has borne our griefs
    And carried our sorrows;
    Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
    Smitten by God, and afflicted.
    But He was wounded for our transgressions,
    He was bruised for our iniquities;
    The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
    And by His stripes we are healed.
    All we like sheep have gone astray;
    We have turned, every one, to his own way;
    And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
  • (Isaiah 53:2-6).




That this passage describes the Messiah's travails is admitted by the Talmud, which adds its own diagnosis, "What is his [the Messiah's] name?. . .The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted.'" (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 98b). By contrast with the Suffering Servant's obscure and ignominious life, Daniel's Son of Man comes in glory:



  • “I was watching in the night visions,
    And behold, One like the Son of Man,
    Coming with the clouds of heaven!
    He came to the Ancient of Days,
    And they brought Him near before Him.
    Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
    That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
    His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    Which shall not pass away,
    And His kingdom the one
    Which shall not be destroyed.”
  • (Daniel 7:13-14).





While the two figures, the Suffering Servant and the Son of Man, are one and the same, the occasion of their appearing cannot be the same. The rabbis noticed the discrepancy, without resolving it successfully:

"R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee … ] lowly, and riding upon an ass! — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 98a).

This cannot be the same occasion, though it is the same Messiah; God does not give either/or prophecies. The Suffering Servant shares His grave with the wicked: "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7-9). But Daniel's Son of Man reigns forever, over an "everlasting dominion." With whom can He make His grave while He is reigning forever? Some Jewish interpreters, like Isaac Luria, have split the one Messiah into two: Messiah son of Joseph and Messiah son of David. This way, one of the two can die: and the Bible is clear that the Messiah must die:

"The rabbis taught: The Messiah b. David, who (as we hope) will appear in the near future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Ask something of me and I will give it to thee, as it is written [Ps. ii. 7-8]: 'I will announce the decree. . . .Ask it of me, and I will give,' etc. But as the Messiah b. David will have seen that the Messiah b. Joseph who preceded him was killed, he will say before the Lord: Lord of the Universe, I will ask nothing of Thee but life.' And the Lord will answer: This was prophesied already for thee by thy father David [Ps. xxi. 5]: 'Life hath he asked of thee, thou gavest it to him.'" (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume VII, Section Moed, Tract Succah, Chapter V, Kindle location 29946)

A better approach is, as Jesus explained to His accusers, that the occasion Daniel describes is yet to come. Amidst the speculations of the Rabbis, this idea too is found, "Now this disagrees with Samuel. For Samuel said, This world differs from the Messianic era only in respect to servitude of the exiled, for it is said, For the poor shall never cease out of the land. This supports R. Hiyya b. Abba, who said, All the prophets prophesied only for the Messianic age, but as for the world to come, the eye hath not seen, O Lord, beside thee [what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him]." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbath 63a); i.e., the Messianic age is one thing, and the world to come, brought in by the cataclysm of the Day of the Lord, is another thing. This corresponds to the Christian understanding that there is a first advent of the Messiah, and then a second in glory, wherein He reigns eternally.

The resurrection bridges the two advents:



  • “Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
  • (Matthew 26:64).




Head of Christ, Rembrandt van Rijn


Born at Bethlehem Pierced
O God His Bones
Cast Lots Born of a Virgin
Mother's Children Lifted Up
Stretched Out My Hands On a Donkey
Weeks The Grave
Thirty Pieces of Silver Light to the Gentiles
Out of Egypt House of David
House of My Friends With the Transgressors
Eyes of the Blind With the Rich
I thirst Darkness over the Land
Gall and Vinegar Shame and Spitting
Familiar Friend Son of Man
Den of Thieves Afar Off
E'er the Sun


Born at Bethlehem

The person Daniel described, however, walked here in our midst. Prophecies fulfilled during Jesus' first advent include His birth at Bethlehem:



  • “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
    Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
    The One to be Ruler in Israel,
    Whose goings forth are from of old,
    From everlasting.”
  • (Micah 5:2).


  • “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
  • (Luke 2:4-7).




It's impressive to see a prophecy delivered centuries earlier fulfilled exactly in this way. The two sources who tell where Jesus was born agree that it was Bethlehem. Birth in this place requires nothing supernatural, and no contemporary source offers a counter-birth place. But if you think the way the 'higher critics' do, this in and of itself proves that. . .it never happened!:

"For wherever we find a narrative which recounts the accomplishment of a long-expected event, a strong suspicion must arise, that the narrative owes its origin solely to the pre-existent belief that that event would be accomplished. But our suspicion is converted into certainty when we find this belief to be groundless; and this is the case here, for the alleged issue must have confirmed a false interpretation of a prophetic passage. Thus this prophetic evidence of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, deprives the historical evidence, which lies in the 2nd chapters of Matthew and Luke, of its value, since the latter seems to be built on the former, and consequently shares its fall." (David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Kindle location 5134).

The "prophetic evidence" deprives the "historical evidence" of its value, the historical evidence, the two gospels, thereupon falling! In other words, if it was prophesied, then it never happened. To this day they follow this regime. Is it rational?:

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Pierced

The Messiah was to be "pierced," and our Lord was pierced, in hands, feet and side:



  • “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
  • (Zechariah 12:10).


  • “For dogs have surrounded Me;
    The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
    They pierced My hands and My feet;
    I can count all My bones.
    They look and stare at Me.”
  • (Psalm 22:16-17).


  • “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”
  • (John 19:34).


  • “So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’”
  • (John 20:25).




The 'mourning' mentioned by Zechariah is explained by some of the Rabbis as mourning for the deceased Messiah: "What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in the last cited verse]? — R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.

"It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son; but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing?" (Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah, 52a).

O God

The Messiah would be acclaimed as "God," as was our Lord:



  • “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
    A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”
  • (Psalm 45:6).


  • “And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
  • (John 20:28).




Some people think that it means very little for a king to be acclaimed as "God," but in reality this is a title which God guards jealously:

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His Bones

Though Jesus met with a violent death, not a bone was broken:



  • “He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken.”
  • (Psalm 34:20).


  • “They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.”
  • (Numbers 9:12).


  • “Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”
  • (John 19:32-33).




Cast Lots

The Messiah's enemies cast lots for His clothing:



  • “They divide My garments among them,
    And for My clothing they cast lots.”
  • (Psalm 22:18).


  • “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
    ‘They divided My garments among them,
    And for My clothing they cast lots.’”
  • (Matthew 27:35).


  • “And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.”
  • (Mark 15:24).


  • “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
    ‘They divided My garments among them,
    And for My clothing they cast lots.’”
  • (John 19:23-24).




Born of a Virgin

The Messiah would be born of a virgin:



  • “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
  • (Isaiah 7:14).


  • “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’
    So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, “God with us.’”
  • (Matthew 1:20-23).




Some readers object that the Greek word 'parthenos' (virgin), quoted by Matthew and found in the Septuagint for Isaiah 7:14, overstates the case, which is that a 'young woman' would conceive. However, given that it is the natural order of things for young women to bear children, it is far from obvious how this circumstance could be meant as a 'sign.'

Mother's Children

The Old Testament states that the Messiah's own brothers would reject Him. This did happen, though later on they 'got religion' after He rose from the tomb:



  • “I have become a stranger to my brothers,
    And an alien to my mother’s children;
    Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
    And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”
  • (Psalm 69:8-9).


  • “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”
  • (John 7:5).




Lifted Up

The Old Testament states that the Messiah would be raised on high:



  • “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
    He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.”
  • (Isaiah 52:13).


  • “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”
  • (John 12:32-33).




This is not such a common expression that it might seem a trivial coincidence: "For example, when John uses the verb υψουσθαι ('to be lifted up') with reference to death, after the reflexive of Aramaic seleq, he is apparently making a play on words by echoing Isaiah 52:13 from the LXX." (Moises Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning, Kindle location 1282). John is telling us that Jesus is the Servant of the Lord, 'ο παις μου και υψωθησεται' (LXX), whose lifting up to the cross is our redemption: "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. . ." (Isaiah 52:13-14).

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Stretched Out My Hands

The Old Testament says that God, in the person of the Messiah, would stretch out His hands to a rebellious people. This the Lord did when His hands were stretched out on the cross:



  • “I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
    Who walk in a way that is not good,
    According to their own thoughts. . .”
  • (Isaiah 65:2).


  • “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.”
  • (Luke 23:33).


  • “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
  • (Acts 2:23).




On a Donkey

The Old Testament says the Messiah would come to His people seated, not on a war-horse, but on a donkey:



  • “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
    Behold, your King is coming to you;
    He is just and having salvation,
    Lowly and riding on a donkey,
    A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
  • (Zechariah 9:9).


  • “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,” and immediately he will send them.’
    All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
    ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
    “Behold, your King is coming to you,
    Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
    A colt, the foal of a donkey.”’”
  • (Matthew 21:1-5).




There is an odd notice in the Talmud, that someone who dreams of this ass will see salvation: "If one sees an ass in a dream, he may hope for salvation, as it says, Behold thy king cometh unto thee; he is triumphant and victorious, lowly and riding upon an ass." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Berakoth, 56b).

There is needless attention paid, on atheist web-sites, to the animal-count here under consideration. There are two ways to interpret Zechariah 9:9: first, that under the parallelism common in the Hebrew scriptures, the male 'donkey' and 'the foal of a (female) donkey' are one and the same animal, and second, that, under a literalist reading, there must be two animals to correspond to the two descriptions: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal." (Zechariah 9:9, Septuagint). Both interpretations can be met by allowing two animals to join the parade; those observers who find one superfluous may simply ignore its presence as irrelevant to prophecy. Compare: "For the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 52:12). Since Jehovah is the God of Israel, does this simply mean that God, who is omnipresent, circles both before and behind His servants? Or might a trinitarian see two persons mentioned? An interpreter who understands, the one true and living God, who is omnipresent, and who is triune, encamps about His people, has met both readers' concerns.

Readers may object that these correspondences mean no more than that Jesus consciously patterned Himself after the Messianic prophecies, and intentionally did things the way the Messiah was supposed to do them. Certainly Jesus did understand Himself to be the Messiah; but many of these prophecies require, for their fulfillment, circumstances and actions by other people that would not have been under a mortal man's control. Were Jesus no more than a mortal man,-- an imposter,-- he could not have controlled what the soldiers did, nor where his mother bore him. To believers, it is perfectly understandable that the same Author who penned the prophecies can also underwrite the events which fulfill them. It is normal, however, for unbelievers to deny flat-out that any of these correspondences could actually have taken place; if they are reported, the events can only have been "invented:"

"That is, first-century Jews  sometimes intentionally modelled their own actions on those of biblical figures. It may well be that John the Baptist actually did dress like Elijah. It is likely that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, thus consciously recalling a prophecy in Zechariah. . .The more parallels there were between Jesus and characters or prophecies in Hebrew scripture, the more likely Matthew, Mark and Luke were to invent sill more. . .The clearest cases of invention are in the birth narratives." (E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pp. 84-85).

The reductio ad absurdum of this approach is found in contemporary author Joseph Atwill, who is obliged to deny much of the known history of first century Judaea. . .on ground that it conforms to Daniel's prophecy!:




In this case, there being nothing supernatural nor even difficult in riding a donkey, there does seem to be an element of 'symbolic speech' in the Lord's choice of mounts. He did it this way because so it was prophesied; He knew it and the crowds knew it. Nevertheless, He did ride a donkey. He did fulfill the prophecy.

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Weeks

The synagogue as well as the church looks for the Messiah, the Savior:

"Speedily cause the offspring of David, Your servant, to flourish, and lift up his glory by Your divine help because we wait for Your salvation all the day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who causes the strength of salvation (Yeshua) to flourish." (Eighteen Benedictions)

Latter-day Messianic claimants, like Sabbatai Sevi, Joseph Frank, and Menachem Schneerson, run into a time limit. Daniel told when the Messiah would reveal Himself to the people, and it was when the church acclaimed Him: the first century, not the twenty-first:



  • “Know therefore and understand,
    That from the going forth of the command
    To restore and build Jerusalem
    Until Messiah the Prince,
    There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
    The street shall be built again, and the wall,
    Even in troublesome times.
    And after the sixty-two weeks
    Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
    And the people of the prince who is to come
    Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
    The end of it shall be with a flood,
    And till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
  • (Daniel 9:25-26).




The Grave

The Old Testament promises the Messiah will not suffer the corruption of the grave:



  • “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
    Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
    You will show me the path of life;
    In Your presence is fullness of joy;
    At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • (Psalm 16:10).


  • “‘For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
    Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
    You have made known to me the ways of life;
    You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
    Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.”
  • (Acts 2:27-32).




Other verses which hint at the Messiah's resurrection include Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” If we understand such a verse in a trivial sense: 'I shall not die [now], but [later],' then it says very little. But what if it is are not meant in a trivial sense? Or, “'An evil disease,' they say, 'clings to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.'. . .But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them.” (Psalm 41:8-10); “O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” (Psalm 30:3).




Thirty Pieces of Silver

The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be valued at thirty silver pieces:



  • “Then I said to them, ‘If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.’ So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
  • “And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.”
  • (Zechariah 11:12-13).


  • “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.”
  • (Matthew 26:14-15).




Light to the Gentiles

The Messiah was to enlarge the people of God, bringing in the Gentiles. James saw this prophecy happening:



  • “On that day I will raise up
    The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
    And repair its damages;
    I will raise up its ruins,
    And rebuild it as in the days of old;
    That they may possess the remnant of Edom [mankind LXX]
    And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
    Says the LORD who does this thing.”
  • (Amos 9:11-12).


  • “Indeed He says,
    ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
    To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
    And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
    I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
    That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
  • (Isaiah 49:6).


  • “Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
    ‘After this I will return
    And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
    I will rebuild its ruins,
    And I will set it up;
    So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD,
    Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
    Says the LORD who does all these things.’”
  • (Acts 15:14-17).




You will often hear from Muslims that Jesus was the Messiah for one nation alone, Israel; but nothing could be clearer from scripture than that all the nations are the Messiah's inheritance:




Out of Egypt

The Messiah was to be called out of Egypt:



  • “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    And out of Egypt I called My son.”
  • (Hosea 11:1).


  • “When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.’”
  • (Matthew 2:14-15).




Readers may object, that Hosea 11:1 is not a prophecy of the Messiah, nor a prophecy of anything, but only a recapitulation of Israel's history. But it is certain that the evangelist Matthew perceived ancient Israel's exodus as a type of the Messiah's career. Readers who think Hosea is offering only a decontextualized history lesson are missing his meaning. His phrase, taken literally, refers to an individual. To Hosea, every believer is called to come out of Egypt. In his geography, the northern tribes who are destined toward Assyria are returning to Egypt: "They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Assyria." (Hosea 9:3). If Ephraim marched due south to Assyria, they never got there; Hosea's 'Egypt' is, like John the Revelator's Egypt,— Jerusalem is, to him, the "city called Sodom and Egypt"— (Revelation 11:8), not so much a place on the map as a spiritual empire. But as it happens, the Lord fulfilled the type to the letter. In no case can the Messiah be separated from Israel:




House of David

The Messiah would be of the house of David:



  • “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.”
  • (2 Samuel 7:12-14).


  • “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began. . .”
  • (Luke 1:68-70).


  • “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:. . .”
  • (Isaiah 11:1).



Jesus was a descendent of David: "And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David." (Matthew 20:31); "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:. . .And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust." (Romans 15:8-12).

Isaiah's name of the 'Branch' is a common designation of the Messiah: "In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth." (Jeremiah 33:15); "Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH." (Zechariah 3:8);

“Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’ (Zechariah 6:12-13).

References to the Messiah as the 'son of God,' though common in the Psalms, were hotly contested by the unlettered prophet of the Arabs, Mohammed ibn Abdallah, who freely concedes that Jesus was the Messiah, yet bitterly denies He is the son of God:




Henryk Siemiradzki, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary


House of My Friends

The Messiah would suffer harm from those close to him:



  • “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
  • “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”
  • (Zechariah 13:6-7).


  • “And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’”
  • (Luke 22:47-48).




With the Transgressors

The Old Testament says the Messiah would be numbered with transgressors. Before it happened, He reminded them: “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” (Luke 22:37).



  • “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
    And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
    Because He poured out His soul unto death,
    And He was numbered with the transgressors,
    And He bore the sin of many,
    And made intercession for the transgressors.”
  • (Isaiah 53:12).


  • “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.”
  • (Luke 23:33).



Blood Sacrifice Nation Israel
The Messiah Targum of Jonathan
Philo Judaeus Apostolic Preaching



By the standards of the German Enlightenment, if Jesus thought that Isaiah's Suffering Servant was the Messiah, then He was animated by a "lying spirit:"

"Isa. liii. refers decidedly to a collective subject perpetually restored to life in new members. . .Thus if a supernatural principle in Jesus— a prophetic spirit— caused him to discover a pre-intimation of his resurrection in these Old Testament histories and passages; then, as no one of them really contained such a pre-intimation, the spirit in him cannot have been the spirit of truth, but must have been a lying spirit, the supernatural principle in him, not a divine, but a demoniacal principle." (David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, p. 583).

The stakes are very high indeed. For these people, the Suffering Servant has to be nation Israel. Can that interpretation really be rationally defended?

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Eyes of the Blind

In the Messianic age the eyes of the blind were to be opened:



  • “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.”
  • (Isaiah 35:5).


  • “Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'”
  • (Matthew 11:4-5).


  • “When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, 'Son of David, have mercy on us!'
    And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.'
    Then He touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith let it be to you.' And their eyes were opened.”
  • (Matthew 9:27-30).




Here again, Critic David Friedrich Strauss informs us that, since the Jews expected the Messiah to open the eyes of the blind, reports that anyone has actually done so alerts us to the presence of the myth:

"We have already quoted the passage in which, according to the first and third gospels, Jesus in reply to the messengers of the Baptist who had to ask him whether he were the ερχομενος (he that should come), appeals to his works. Now he here mentions in the very first place the cure of the blind, a significant proof that this particular miracle was expected from the Messiah, his words being taken from Isa. xxxv. 5, a prophecy interpreted messianically; and in a rabbinical passage above cited, among the wonders which Jehovah is to perform in the messianic times, this is enumerated, that he oculos caecorum aperiet. . .Now if the Christian community, proceeding as it did from the bosom of Judaism, held Jesus to be the messianic personage, it must manifest the tendency to ascribe to him every messianic predicate, and therefore the one in question. (p. 445).

This procedural rule eliminates any possibility of there ever being any actual Messiah. . .or is it actually possible for a rule of procedure to do that? The reader is reminded that the great sage of the German enlightenment, Immanuel Kant, explained that we do not find law in nature, we give law to nature. For sure, they do, but people who give law to nature may find it prudent to invest in a tsunami-proof bunker. This procedural rule, if enforced, would indeed be an effectual anti-Messiah statute, but perhaps such litigation is over-ambitious.

Some readers may object that in Isaiah's prophecy it is God, not the Messiah, who is to 'come with vengeance' and open blind eyes and make the lame to leap. This is an astute observation:

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With the Rich

The Messiah would make His grave with the rich:



  • “And he made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
  • (Isaiah 53:9).


  • “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.”
  • (Matthew 27:57-60).




I Thirst

In His agony the Messiah would thirst:



  • “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death.”
  • (Psalm 22:15).


  • “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!'”
  • (John 19:28).




Darkness over the Land

God's judgment was to be accompanied by unnatural darkness during the day:



  • “'And it shall come to pass in that day,' says the Lord GOD,
    'That I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight. . .'”
  • (Amos 8:9).


  • “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
  • (Luke 23:44-45).




Gall and Vinegar

The Old Testament states that the Messiah would be given gall and vinegar:



  • “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
  • (Psalm 69:21).


  • “They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.”
  • (Matthew 27:34).


  • "Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth."
  • (John 19:29).




It is, depending on your point of view, either an odd coincidence, or a fulfillment of prophecy, that the Jews had been conquered by the one population that, to my knowledge, has ever used vinegar as a common drink. The Roman legionaries used to drink posca on the march, a drink made with spoiled wine, i.e. vinegar, mixed with water. Some people actually liked the stuff, as did Cato the Elder:

"Water was what he drank on his campaigns, except that once in a while, in a raging thirst, he would call for vinegar, or, when his strength was failing, would add a little wine." (Life of Cato the Elder, Plutarch's Lives, 1).

It is reportedly refreshing, because astringent; however by that logic one might as well drink Moxie. Vinegar was considered one of the essentials: "The troops should never want wood and forage in winter or water in summer. They should have corn, wine, vinegar, and even salt, in plenty at all times." (The Military Institutions of the Romans, Flavius Vegetus Renatus, Book III, Kindle location 837).

Shame and Spitting

The Old Testament says that the Messiah would be struck and spat upon:



  • “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
  • (Isaiah 50:6).


  • “And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.”
  • (Mark 15:19).




Another 'smiting' verse is Micah 5:1,

". . .they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek."

Familiar Friend

The Old Testament prophesies that the Messiah will be betrayed by one of His comrades:



  • “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
  • (Psalm 41:9).


  • “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.”
  • (John 13:18).




Without Answering

The Old Testament states that the Messiah would not answer His accusers insult for insult:



  • “He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
    Yet He opened not His mouth;
    He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
    And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    So He opened not His mouth.
    He was taken from prison and from judgment,
    And who will declare His generation?”
  • (Isaiah 53:7-8).


  • "But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response." (Psalm 38:13-14).


  • “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
    “Who committed no sin,
    Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
    who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously...”
  • (1 Peter 2:21-23).





The Rabbis concur that it is a righteous man who bears insult without insulting in return:

"Our Rabbis taught: Those who are insulted but do not insult, hear themselves reviled without answering, act through love and rejoice in suffering, of them the Writ saith, But they who love Him are as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. [Judges 5:31]" (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 88b).

Some of the Rabbis concur also that Isaiah 53 concerns the Messiah:

"What is his [the Messiah's] name? — ... The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted.' [Isaiah 53:4]" (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b).

This odd understanding of Isaiah 53:4 somehow made it into the Latin Vulgate: "...vere languores nostros ipse tulit et dolores nostros ipse portavit et nos putavimus eum quasi leprosum et percussum a Deo et humiliatum..." (Isaiah 53:4, Latin Vulgate).

Skeptics desperately insist that no Jew has ever held a Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53: "But the Jews of Jesus's time had no conception whatsoever of a messiah who suffers and dies." (Reza Aslan, Zealot, p.182). To be sure, the range of Rabbinic opinion runs from one extreme, of total denial: "R. Hillel said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah. R. Joseph said: May God forgive him [for saying so]." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 99a). . .to basic agreement with the New Testament authors as to which prophetic passages pertain to the coming Messiah. Targum Jonathan, for example, represents the passage thus, "Behold, My Servant the Messiah shall prosper." For those who accept the inspiration of the New Testament, it is not an open question whether Jesus is the suffering servant, because Philip takes the occasion of Isaiah's suffering servant passages to preach Christ:

"The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (Acts 8:32-35.)

It is difficult to deny that the facts fit the case.

Son of Man

Thus far the fulfilled Messianic prophecies have been witnessed, either by any interested member of the public, or by upwards of 500 persons in the case of the risen Christ. There are in addition many fulfilled prophecies which require insight or Holy Ghost revelation, such as Stephen's vision:



  • “The LORD said to my Lord,
    'Sit at My right hand,
    Till I make Your enemies Your footstool'.”
  • (Psalm 110:1).


  • “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, 'Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'.”
  • (Acts 7:55-56).





Den of Thieves

Zechariah prophesied that, in the Messianic era, the temple will be cleansed of merchants:



  • “And there shall no longer be traders [lit. Canaanites] in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.”
  • (Zechariah 14:21 NRSV).


  • “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.”
  • (Jeremiah 7:11).


  • “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves.”’”
  • (Matthew 21:12-13).




That the word 'Canaanite' in Zechariah's prophecy was understood by the Lord to mean 'merchant' is in keeping with tradition:

"...and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts; the Targum paraphrases it,

"'there shall be no more a merchant in the house of the sanctuary of the Lord;'

"in the temple, where were buyers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and doves, for sacrifice, such as our Lord drove out; but now there shall be no more of them, all legal sacrifices being at an end. The word here used does signify a merchant, and is so rendered in Ho 12:7 and by some here; and the Jews [T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1.] have a saying, that

"'there are no Canaanites but merchants;'

"or the word always so signifies, referring to the above places, and having quoted Job 41:6...

"That the word Canaanite is here to be taken in a figurative sense is certain; for, literally understood, there is no such person in the world now, nor has been for many hundreds of years, even an inhabitant of Canaan, or one so called." (John Gill, Exposition of the Bible, online.)

This prophecy occurs during and extended section where Zechariah foretells various aspects of the Messianic age and the life to come. He specifically prophesies that, in the Messianic age, there will be no merchants in the Temple:

"On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one. . .And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day." (Zechariah 14:8-21 NRSV).

And so it was. Merchants? Gone!:

So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Mark 11:15-17).

It may be objected, a Messianic demonstration like the cleansing of the temple shows no more than that Jesus thought He was the Messiah and intended to be the Messiah. Like riding a donkey into Jerusalem, it has no independent evidentiary value because He is obviously patterning His behavior after Biblical expectations for the Messiah. A worthwhile point. Given His tendency to do things like this, it's surprising some people claim He did not see Himself as the Messiah. The traders did indeed abscond; it remains a fulfilled prophecy.

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Afar Off

That the Messiah's friends and loved ones will, for a time, watch His sufferings from a distance is prophesied in Psalm 38:



  • “My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off.”
  • (Psalm 38:11).


  • “But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”
  • (Luke 23:49).




E'er the Sun Was

Psalm 72 is a Messianic psalm that says the Messiah's name "shall be continued as long as the sun:"



  • “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.”
  • (Psalm 72:17).



Does this 'Continuance' run forwards only, or backwards as well? The Babylonian Talmud, which takes this as a proper name, understands the 'Continuance' as from "e'er the sun was:"

"What is his [the Messiah's] name? — The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come. The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure for ever: e'er the sun was, his name is Yinnon." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 98b).



Dissenters

As seen above, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament in His first advent, although others remain to be fulfilled when He comes again. According to one popular modern Roman Catholic author, it is anti-semitic to point this out:

"Already we have seen the deeply problematic legacy of Jew hatred in foundational Christian texts, in the implicitly anti-Jewish Christian idea of revelation as prophecy fulfillment, and most damaging of all, in the dominant Christian theology of Jesus, not only as the enemy of the Jewish people but as the Son of God who obliterates the integrity of all other ways to God." (James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, p. 232).

As a Catholic this author does not believe the events the gospel writers record actually happened, rather that they made it all up. The completed prophecies listed on this page, in other words, represent 'prophecy historicized,' not events that actually happened in real life:

"Thus the story, especially the core of it known to us as the Passion narrative, was, in Oates's term, 'invented.'. . .It was at this point that the details 9f the narrative that had their origins not in the historical life of Jesus but in the Jewish Scriptures were reimagined as 'facts.' Now the Seamless Robe of Jesus, say, was understood as having actually existed, and the 'facts' of its seamlessness and of the centurions' having rolled dice for it were understood as 'fulfillments' of the Jewish Scriptures in which those details had first appeared. . .Such proof would have been unthinkable in the first years after the death of Jesus, not only because the invented character of the story was so well known, but because proof was unnecessary in any case, since Jesus was coming back so soon. . .
"The tragedy built into this process is the one Oates identified, namely, that people — especially those Gentiles who had no knowledge either of Jewish Scriptures or of the ways Jews used them — forgot that the Gospel was invented." (James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, pp. 562-564).

This author does not explain whether the Jewish anti-missionaries who deny that Jesus was the Christ on account of as-yet unfulfilled prophecies also have no knowledge of the ways Jews use scriptures. If the evangelists were shameless liars, as the Catholics claims, fine, let us join them in discarding their work; but what if they were not? The reader who takes the trouble to investigate will discover the sole evidence that these prophecy fulfillments were 'invented' is the fact that they are. . .prophecy fulfillments, which to the atheist mind is just not possible.

It goes without saying that if God through loving condescension were to enter His failing world, He could hardly avoid 'showing up' the futility of man-made salvation plans, as these are nugatory and of no avail. It is difficult moreover to understand what the author means by "the implicitly anti-Jewish Christian idea of revelation as prophecy fulfillment," inasmuch as this paradigm is not anything distinctively Christian; other Messianic claimants who have attracted a large Jewish following have also claimed to fulfill prophecy, indeed many of the very same prophecies. Moreover, unconvinced evaluators who have dismissed these claims have done so on no other basis than failure to fulfill prophecy, which is, after all, the way such claims are evaluated; what can possibly be 'antisemitic' about it is far from clear:




Immanuel Kant set the tone for the German enlightenment by explaining that man does not find law in nature, man gives law to nature. The higher critics picked up this football and ran with it. The very many Old Testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth were received as proof, not that Jesus was the promised Messiah. . .but that none of it ever actually happened, it's all a myth:

"The knowledge of the fact, that the Jews were fond of representing their great men as the children of parents who had long been childless, cannot but make us doubtful of the historical truth of the statement that this was the case with John the Baptist; knowing also that the Jews saw predictions everywhere in the writings of their prophets and poets, and discovered types of the Messiah in all the lives of holy men recorded in their Scriptures; when we find details in the life of Jesus evidently sketched after the pattern of these prophecies and prototypes, we cannot but suspect that they are rather mythical than historical." (David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Kindle location 2161).

In other words, when the gospel narratives testify that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, then those narratives are to be re-classified as 'myths.' This is a tidy way to make sure no evidence ever rocks the boat of your world-view: any non-conforming evidence is simply discarded.

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