Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Musings about the Messiah

The many promises and prophecies in Hebrew Scriptures led devout Jews to anticipate a coming of Messiah. Simeon and Anna, two elderly persons described in Luke 2, represent many others who also shared this hope. The Scriptures also foretold the appearance of a forerunner before the revelation of the Messiah. The emergence of John the Baptist was seen as the fulfillment of this prophecy: "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.' This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: 'A voice of one calling in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’” (Matthew 3:1-3).

Some people living then thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah but he pointed them to Jesus Christ and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’" (John 1:29-30). Later when John was in prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus and asked him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”(Matthew 11:2-3). Apparently, John was experiencing some doubt about who Jesus was and just wanted to make sure that Jesus really was the Messiah. This is not all that uncommon--who among has not had occasional questions about Jesus Christ.

Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah. As proof, believers point to various Scriptures that indicate the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies in Christ. Some of these are general enough in nature that a good number of others could claim (and many have) to be Messiah. For instance, Messiah was to come through the house and line of David. Critics would characterize certain other prophecies as being self-fulfilled by Jesus. As a knowledgeable Jew, he was familiar with passages such as Zechariah 9:9--the prophecy about Messiah entering Jerusalem by riding on a donkey. Even if you accept the miracles of Jesus as authentic (and not the made-up preaching of the Early Church)--there were a number of other individuals in the Bible that were able to do miraculous signs (Moses, Elijah, etc.) and they obviously were not the Messiah.

The Jewish problem with Jesus as Messiah boils down to two major points. First, if Jesus were the Messiah, what happened to the Kingdom. Since no kingdom materialized then he must not have been the Messiah. By the way, his own disciples were also looking for a kingdom right up and until his ascension (See Acts 1). Secondly, Jewish theological beliefs about the holiness of God prohibit the Messiah from being both God and man. However, the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7 indicates that the child to be born would be called, "Mighty God and Everlasting Father."

So how can we know that Jesus truly was the Messiah? 1) Overwhelming evidence is provided through the abundance of Scriptures and prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. 2) A proper understanding of his first appearance and what was accomplished, along with the present spiritual nature of the Kingdom, indicates that he is the Messiah. When he comes again, a literal Kingdom will be realized. 3) Jesus said that he was the Messiah (see John 4:26 and Mark 14:61-62). 4) His resurrection from the dead proves his uniqueness but ultimately it comes down to a matter of faith. When you believe, you are given confirmation through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important? Because God promised a Messiah and he has kept his word. Even more basic, why was a Messiah necessary? Because the sinful condition of the world required a Saviour. When Jesus comes again in power and glory, he will usher in the Kingdom. You can experience that peace and prosperity (spiritual blessings) now through faith.

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