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  • Rick LoPresti

Jesus is the Messiah

Jesus has always been a controversial figure. There have been imposters claiming to be Him. There have been people who claim to represent Him but don’t. He has been misunderstood and falsely accused since He was here about 2,000 years ago. The world did not know Him, and His own did not receive Him (Jn 1:10-11). However, to those who did and do receive Him He gives power to become the children of God (Jn 1:12). There are many false doctrines taught about Him, but He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). He is God manifested in the flesh to be our Savior (Jn 1:1-3 & 14, Jn 14:7-11, 2Cor 5:19, Col 2:9, 1Tim 3:16). He is the Messiah that the prophets foretold would come. It has been said that He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

What does Messiah mean? It is a Hebrew word which means anointed. It can mean the anointed offices of prophet, king, and priest (Lev 4 & 6, 1 & 2Sam, Ps, etc.). Sometimes olive oil would be poured on the head of the man entering one of these offices to symbolize the empowering of the Spirit of God to fulfill their office, and to symbolize that they were set apart for God’s work. Although this word has this general meaning, it also refers to one specific man the prophets foretold would come – the Messiah. In the King James Version of the Bible, this word is only used twice to specifically refer to this man. These are in Daniel 9:25-26. There are other passages that are generally accepted to refer to this man. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated Christ is synonymous with Messiah.

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the first coming of Messiah, and He will fulfill the prophecies concerning His second coming. He also fulfilled all of the offices of an anointed man. He is King (Jn 12:15, 1Tim 6:15, Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16). He is prophet (Acts 3:22-23, Acts 7:37). He is priest (Heb 3-10), and He is anointed (Lk 4:18, Acts 4:27, Acts 10:38). He came to the place and time the prophets spoke of, and He did the things the prophets said He would do.

The Jews did not know that His first coming was not to fulfill the national Messianic promises to Israel (Jn 6:15, Acts 1:6-8). It was to die for our sins and bring the spiritual aspect of the kingdom of God, not just to Jews but to all men. They did not understand there would be two comings, and that Gentiles would be invited into the kingdom, even though it was prophesied (Is 9:1-7 – Mt 4:15-16, Is 11:10, Is 42:1-6 – Mt 12:17-21, Is 49:22, Is 66:19, Hos 1:10 & Hos 2:23 – Rom 9-25-26). Amos 9:11-12 – Acts 15:14-18). He offered it to the Jews first because of His covenant with them (Mt 10:5, Mt 15:26); but when they rejected it, He offered it to all men (Mt 21:28-46, Mt 22:1-14, Lk 4:22-30, Rom 9-11, Eph 1-2). Jesus told them but they did not understand.The OT prophets mostly only saw the future as it pertained to Israel. Most Jews still refuse to accept this.

The Jews knew the scriptures intellectually but blinded themselves because of envy to how they were being fulfilled before their eyes (Is 6:8-10 (Mt 13:15, Jn 12:40, Acts 28:27, Rom 11:7, 2Cor 3:14). The root of the problem was not that Jesus failed to show them who He is. It was and still is envy (Mt 27:18, Acts 7:9, Acts 13:45, Acts 17:5, Rom 10:19, Rom 11:11). It was publicly declared by angels, shepherds, wise men, and prophets that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Mt 1-2, Lk 1-2). Yet they ignored this (Jn 7:52). They saw Him ride a young donkey into Jerusalem as the people declared Him (Zech 9:9 – upon a colt (Mt 21:2-7). They perceived that He spoke of them in the parable of the vineyard (Mt 21:45). They saw His disciples flee from Him at His arrest (Zech 13:7, Mt 26:31). They wondered as He fulfilled Isaiah 53:7 before them when He held His peace as they falsely accused Him (Mk 14:6-61). Isaiah 53:8 was fulfilled before their eyes when He was taken from prison to die. (Mt 27:2 & 29). They fulfilled the prophecies themselves and did not get it. They quoted Psalm 22:7-8 at His cross when they insulted Him (Mt 27:39-43). They looked upon Him whom they pierced (Zech 12:10, Jn 19:34-37), and they saw the wounds He received in the house of His friends (Zech 13:6, Jn 15:14-15, Jn 20:20-27). They knew of His fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 when He died along with two criminals and was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Mt 27:38 & 57-60). They fulfilled prophecy when they gave Judas 30 pieces of silver which he cast down in the temple and with which they later bought a potter’s field (Zech 11:12-13, Mt 26:15, Mt 27:3-9). They watched the Romans fulfill prophecies before their eyes. They saw them pierce His hands and feet and part His garments among them (Ps 22:16 & 18, Mt 27:31 & 35 (Zech 13:6). They knew He said He would rise on the third day, so they lied and bribed to cover up His resurrection (Mt 27:63-66, Mt 28:11-15). They knew the prophecies such as Psalm 22 which contains 8 prophecies, Isaiah 53 which predicts His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection with specific details, and Daniel 9:24-27 which shows that Messiah will first come and be cut off (eliminated, killed) before reigning and gives a specific time frame for His first coming. There are about 300 Messianic prophecies which have essentially zero chance of being fulfilled by coincidence.

So, why did most Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah, why do they continue to do so? Here are some reasons modern Rabbis give today for denying that Jesus is the Messiah along with responses.

1. They say Jesus did not fulfill one Messianic prophecy. First, we must ask which scriptures are Messianic prophecies. This is essential because all the scriptures they refer to are about the second coming of Christ. They refuse to look at passages that clearly speak about His first coming. Many are directly quoted in the New Testament. They deny that the scriptures show the Messiah coming first to suffer and die for our spiritual salvation, and then to return later to reign and fulfill the prophecies they refer to. Here are prophecies that will be fulfilled when Christ returns that they say are unfulfilled because there are not two comings and because Messiah is yet to come.

a. Jews will be restored to their land and they were already there when Jesus came.

b. The temple will be rebuilt and the temple existed.

1. There are spiritual and literal meanings of the temple (Jn 2:19, Mt 26:61).

2. Jesus predicted the destruction and rebuilding of the temple (Mt 24).

3. Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 23:23).

c. All nations will be taught of God. To the contrary Islam arose.

1. the apostles taught all nations

2. Islam did not arise for 600 years

d. Ezekiel 36:26-27 was not fulfilled.

1. The Spirit of God was poured out in Acts 2 and after. Peter quoted Joel 2.

2. Does Ezekiel 36 eliminate choice?

3. Soon after Jesus came the dark ages. That was not for almost 500 years and was not

the fault of Jesus.

4. Christianity split into denominations after Jesus died.

a. That was not for hundreds of years.

b. There were Jewish denominations – Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, etc.

c. There are Jewish denominations today - reformed, orthodox, Hasidic, etc.

5. how about Israel’s idolatry in Abraham’s family (Josh 24:2), in Egypt (Josh

24:14), the 40 years in the wilderness (Amos 5:25-26), and throughout their history?

e. Is 2:4 was not fulfilled. There has been war continually and even done by warlike

“Christian nations”.

1. This will happen at the second coming (Rev 20).

2. What is a Christian nation? There are secular governments and Christian people.

Governments have wars, not individuals. Governments must have armies in this fallen

world.

f. Is 56:7 was not fulfilled

1. Jesus quoted it (Mt 21:17). Jews made it a den of thieves.

2. Jews worshipped idols in the temple (Eze 8).

The Jewish OT prophets primarily saw things pertaining to Israel, not Gentiles. Jesus clearly taught there would be two comings. Examples are the parable of the wheat and tares (Mt 13:36-43), the parable of the vineyard which the Jews understood to be about them (Mt 21:33-46), and the prophetic passages of Matthew 23 and 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The angels told the apostles Jesus would return as He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:11). There was the same misunderstanding in those days (Lk 19:11, Acts 1:6-7, 1Thes 4:15).

The Rabbis say prophecies made by Jesus did not come to pass. Jesus said, “this generation shall not pass til all these things be done (Mk 13:30)”. The disciples had asked about two time periods – the destruction of the temple and the second coming. Jesus answered questions from the disciples about two time periods – the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mk 3:2), but He did not throw off the Romans and reign. There is one kingdom of God with different aspects. Some are spiritual and some are earthly. As they did when Christ was here, they are missing the greater spiritual need, not just the earthly and political ones (Jn 8:33-47).

2. They say you can’t be a Jew and believe in Jesus. Jesus, the apostles, and the early church until Acts 10 were Jews. The early church was reluctant to accept Gentiles at first (Lk 9:51-56, Jn 4:27, Acts 10-11), and after they did they debated about them needing to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses (Acts 10-11). Jews wrote the New Testament.

3. They say Christians hate and persecute Jews. Is that happening today? Christians are being persecuted all over the world. They have been persecuted since the first century. Don’t lump past actions of Catholics with all Christians. The inquisition also killed millions of Christians. The crusades were Catholics who until recently (after the Vatican 2 council changed their approach to ecumenicism) defined themselves separately from Christians. The Germans also killed millions of Gentiles including Christians in the holocaust.

4. Jesus prayed on the cross for the Father to forgive the Jews (Lk 23:34), so they ask why Christians persecute Jews. Jews killed their own prophets, Jesus, and apostles and persecuted them. Jews reject and insult the Savior of Christians and demean their faith

5. They say the Hebrew word alma does not mean virgin in Isaiah 7:14. How is a regular birth a miraculous divine sign? Alma is translated virgin 4 times. Strong’s Concordance says this word means ripe sexually, or a maid. A note in Gesenius’ Lexicon about this word says, “nothing give us ground to assign any other meaning…alma in the Punic language signified virgin…the absolute authority of the New Testament is, however, quite sufficient to settle the question to a Christian”. “Young woman” and not virgin in Matthew 1:23 would mean Mary had committed adultery and the angel Gabriel lied to Joseph and Mary. "There is no instance where it can be proved that 'almâ designates a young woman who is not a virgin. The fact of virginity is obvious in Gen 24:43 where 'almâ is used of one who was being sought as a bride for Isaac." (R. Laird Harris, et al. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 672.). The Rabbis say Christianity borrows this idea from paganism. Paganism borrows from the Bible. There are over 200 flood legends which vary in similarity to Genesis 6-9. Jews practiced paganism throughout their history, Kabbalah, and other mysticism and that is no reflection on the scriptures. Jews replaced scripture with traditions in Jesus’ day (Mk 7:1-13). Genesis 3:15 is widely accepted as a Messianic prophecy and speaks of the seed of the woman having victory over the serpent who is the devil (Rev 12:9). Who fulfilled this if not Jesus?

6. The Rabbis say no scripture says God would come in flesh. Only God can save and fulfill Jewish covenant promises. Messiah must be God in flesh. In the Old Testament, God some time appeared in human form. These are called theophanies (Gen 18:2, Gen 28:13, 1Ki 22:19, Is 6:1)

The Jews had the same problem in Jesus’ day (Mt 23:63-66, Jn 5:18, Jn 8:57-59, Jn 10:30-31 & 39). When will Jehovah stand on His feet on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4)? How will a child be born whose name is the mighty God and Everlasting Father (Is 9:6)? How will the ruler of Israel be from everlasting?

7. They say Jesus was nothing more than an itinerant preacher, and He never held an official position or was ruler. The Jews rejected Him just like they always did to God and the prophets. That doesn’t mean He wasn’t the Messiah, or that the prophets were not of God. That is more of a proof than a disproof. He always held the position as God, prophetically, and in the flesh as Messiah (Ps 2:7, Lk 2:11)

8. If Jesus was born of a virgin, then how is He the Son of David? Joseph and Mary were both of house of David (Mt 1:16, Lk 3:23). Jewish genealogies were always reckoned through males.

Jesus asked the Jews a question about the Messiah being the son of David which they could not answer (Ps 110:1, Mt 22:42-46). How is He David’s son and his Lord? The Father of Christ is God who made David and the covenant with him they are referring to (2Sam 7).

9. The Rabbis ask why Jesus kept His resurrection a secret. He appeared 16 times after He rose, including over 500 at once (1Cor 15:6). He said repeatedly He would rise. Even His enemies understood it and tried to cover it up (Mt 28:11-15). The Jews had already rejected and killed Him. Jesus said in the parable of the rich man that “neither will they believe if one rose from the dead (Lk 16:31)”. When people are bent on rejecting truth, they will always have rescuing devices to save their worldview from challenges. People that are of this mindset will not be persuaded despite the evidence. Jesus commanded His disciples to tell the whole world, and they did (Mt 28:18-20, Mk 16:15-20, Lk 24:43-48)

10. They quote Jesus who said that He did not come to destroy the law but fulfill it (Mt 5:17-19), yet they accuse Him and His disciples of abolishing the law. This is the same accusation the Jews made against Jesus and the apostles (Acts 18:13, Acts 21:28). Israel’s track record of keeping the law is far from perfect. Throughout the Old Testament they fell into idolatry and many other sins. According to Romans 10:13, they go about to establish their own righteousness and not God’s. Jesus said our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (Mt 5:20). They were hypocrites (Mt 23), and they omitted the weightier matters of the law which are internal to appear outwardly righteous (Mt 23:23). Jesus said none of them kept the law (Jn 7:19). When Stephen pointed out their failures, hypocrisy, and long history of rejecting God and His prophets, they killed him via stoning (Acts 7:33). The point of Matthew 5 is to raise the bar from outward actions to the inward and the heart and motive. Jesus consistently referred to and upheld the law (Mt 7:12, Mt 12:5, Mt 22:40, Mt 23:23, Lk 2:22-39, Lk 10:26, Lk 24:44, Jn 1:45, Jn 7:19 & 23, Jn 8:17, Jn 10:34, Jn 15:25). In Acts 15, the church held a conference about Jew vs. Gentile. This was a major issue in the early church. They concluded that the ceremonial law covenant for Jews is not applicable to Gentiles. Jews today don’t even keep all of the ceremonial laws themselves. Jesus sent the disciples to the Jews first (Mt 10). After they rejected Him they went to the Gentiles. Even then they went to the Jews first (Acts 1-10). Paul went to the synagogue first in his travels (Acts 13:14, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1 & 10 & 17, Acts 18:4, Acts 18:19, Acts 19:8). Paul

prayed for his countrymen (Rom 9:1-5, Rom 10:1), Peter’s primary focus was Jews (Gal 2:7).

There are about 300 direct OT quotes in NT and another about 800 more. They did not abolish the law. They followed God.

11. The Rabbis say the law is eternal and will never be replaced or abolished. What about before Moses? Eternal and forever don’t always mean for eternity with no time ending ever.

Moral principles are eternal, not civil and ceremonial.

12. They say the Jewish feasts are Biblical, but Christmas and Easter are pagan. They are correct about the pagan origins of these celebrations. However, Israel’s track record of keeping the feasts in Bible is abysmal. There were seven feasts, three of which all men were to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate (Ex 23:14-17, Deut 16:16-17). They were Passover (Ex 12, Lev 23:5-8, Num 28:16, Deut 16:1-8), Pentecost (Ex 34:22, Lev 23:15-21, Num 28:26, Deut 16:9-11), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:34-43, Num 29:12-40, Deut 16:13-15, Deut 31:10). There are only six recorded Passover celebrations (Num 9, Num 33, Josh 5, 2Chr 30, 2Ki 23, Ezra 6). The indications are that they went many years without doing it. There is no record of the day of Pentecost being done. There are two records of the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:4, Neh 8:14-17). Nehemiah 8 says it had not been done since the days of Joshua. Other feasts were the day of atonement (Ex 30:10, Lev 16, Num 29:7-11), the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:24, Num 29:1-6), the Feast of Ingathering (Ex 23:16, Ex 34:22 (Lev 23:10-14). There is no record of those being kept in the Bible. They were to let the land rest every seven years and then on the fiftieth year (Ex 23:10-11, Lev 25:3-7, Lev 26:34 & 43). There is no record of them doing this. In fact, Jeremiah prophesied that the Babylonian captivity would last seventy years to make up for the 490 years the Jews failed to keep the fiftieth year (2Chr 36:21, Jer 25:11-12, Jer 29:10, Jer 34:14, Dan 9:2). The king of Israel was to have hos own copy of the law and he was to read it regularly (Deut 17:18). They did not do this either. In the days of Josiah, which was close to the destruction of Israel, they made a great discovery – the copy of the law in the temple (2Chr 34:14-32).

13. They ask why Christians do not keep the dietary laws? As stated above, moral principles are eternal, but not civil and ceremonial laws. Jews don’t even practice the civil and ceremonial laws today. Also as above, this question was settled for Gentile Christians in Acts 15.

14. The Rabbis ask why Christians celebrate Sunday and not Sabbath? Again, Acts 15. Jesus rose on the first day after Sabbath which His Jewish disciples kept. Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath (Mt 12:12, Mk 1:21, Lk 4:16 & 31), and so did Paul (Acts 13:14 & 42-44, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4). Jesus also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:2), as well as the Passover (Jn 2:23). Paul celebrated the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 20:16). They just did not compel Gentiles to specify religious holidays (Rom 14:5).

15. They say there is no Old Testament indication of a new covenant. There are several (Is 42:9, Is 43:19, Is 62:2, Is 65:17, Jer 31:31, Jer 32:40)

16. They say Jesus said turn the other cheek and love your enemies (Mt 5:43-48). So, why do Christians hate Jews and why are Christian nations warlike? Christians are the best friend of Israel. Don’t lump all Christians in with past Catholic persecution. There are secular governments and Christian people. Governments must have armies. Doesn’t Israel have an army?

17. They say Christians borrow from the Torah. So which is it? Did they abolish the Torah or borrow from it? The New Testament is based on the Old Testament. It has about 300 direct quotes and about 800 indirect ones. The Old Testament is about ¾ of the Bible. The New Testament writers were Jews. This is not an argument against Jesus but for Him.

18. They say Christians were silent on the holocaust. The Germans hid it even from their own people. Again, there are secular governments and private people. Don’t blame Jesus and His disciples for the actions of governments 2,000 years after. Christians helped Jews escape. “Christian nations” liberated the Jews, defeated and occupied Germany, and voted to recognize the Jewish state in 1948.

19. They ask where the Christians were for the 6 day war? Where did Israel get their arms and supplies? Who brokered the cease fire? President Johnson condemned Egypt and supported Israel’s right to statehood.

20. There is no trinity. This is correct. God is one Spirit (Jn 4:24, Eph 4:4) which was manifested in the flesh (Jn 1:1-3 & 14, Jn 11:7-11, 2Cor 5:9, Col 2:9, 1Tim 3:16)

21. They say not one rabbi believed in Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was on the Sanhedrin and buried Him (Mt 27:57-59, Mk 15:43-45, Lk 23:50, Jn 19:38). Nicodemus was also on the Sanhedrin, believed, and helped Joseph bury Him (Jn 3:1-2, Jn 7:50, Jn 19:39). A great company of priests believed (Acts 6:7). Jesus predicted their rejection as fulfillment of their past behavior and prophecy (Mt. 23:29-39, Mk 8:31). They broke 16 of their own laws when they tried and condemned Him. They said, “we have no king but Caesar (Jn 19:15)”. They delivered Him for envy (Mk 15:10). The Jews’ history in the OT and their behavior in the NT do not present them as the barometer for truth and righteousness. They wanted to kill Lazarus too because Jesus raised him (Jn 12:10).

22. They ask why did so few Jews believe? They threatened to excommunicate people who did (Jn 9:27). There are many crossings of Jews and Gentiles in the Old Testament. The concept of pure-blooded Jew and unholy Gentile doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

23. They say the apostles were poorly educated. They weren’t. They knew scriptures. They wrote the New Testament. Faith is better than carnal “intelligence” (Rom 8, 1Cor 1-2). They made the same accusation in their day (Acts 4:13). They had the same pride in their day (Jn 9:34)

24. The Rabbis say His own family turned against Him. James and his brothers followed Him, and James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and wrote the book of James (Mt 12:46, Jn 2:12, Acts 1:14, Acts 12:17, Acts 15, Acts 21:18, 1Cor 15:7, Gal 1:19, Gal 2:12). At first they did not believe but later did (Jn 7:3).

25. They say Jesus told the disciples to only go to Jews and they disobeyed Him. He told them that as part of specific instructions for the specific mission of Matthew 10. After He rose, He told them to go to all nations (Mt 28:18-20, Mk16:15-20, Lk 24:43-49). He was offering the kingdom to Jews first. Luke 22:35-36 also shows that Matthew 10 was a specific situation.

26. They say Jesus thought of Himself as only for Jews. It was Jews first, not Jews only. This is shown in His interactions with the centurion (Mt 8:5-13) and the Canaanite woman (Mk 7:24-30), and His statements about the widow and Naaman (Lk 4:24-29). He also said He has other sheep besides those in the fold (Jn 10:16).

27. They ask how Christians explain Jewish survival and the existence of Israel. The New Testament teaches that God still has plans for Israel. Jesus taught it (Mt 23:39, Lk 21:24). Paul taught it (Rom 9-11). John taught it (Rev 7:1-8, Rev 14:1, Rev 15:3; references to Jerusalem).

Christians pray for and support Israel. Christians and “Christian nations” have helped Israel

Christians recognize God’s sovereign help for Israel and see it as a prophetic Messianic sign. Daniel 9:24-27 gives a clear indication of the first and second coming.

28. The Rabbis say that nowhere does the Torah state that someone else’s death can bring forgiveness. The word atonement appears 81 times in the Old Testament. It is about the blood of an animal providing it. An animal can provide atonement but not a man (Heb 8-10)? Isaiah 53 clearly shows a man providing atonement for others through His death. Jesus clearly fulfilled this detailed prophecy. They also struggled with Jesus being able to forgive sins in His day (Mk 2:7).

29. They say man is basically good and will not self-destruct. Have they never read Psalm 14:2-3, Psalm 53:2-3, or Jeremiah 17:9-10?

30. They say more than mere faith needed. Works are also needed. They are right. The New Testament clearly and consistently teaches this (Jam 2:14-26). It teaches that the basis of salvation is faith in the Savior Jesus and not our own works, but that this faith will lead us into good works as disciples of Christ (Eph 2:8-10). Calvinism is false.

The problem is not that Jesus did not fulfill prophecy, did not demonstrate who He is, or started an anti-Jewish, anti-Torah movement. The problem is the same one that plagues the fallen nature or every one of us – pride. If we humble ourselves and confess our need of forgiveness and salvation, and put our faith in Him and not ourselves, Jesus Christ will answer and save us in this life and that which is to come. He will reveal Himself to anyone who sincerely asks Him to. We are all blind, deaf, and hard-hearted on our own. We need Him. He is the Messiah. Obey the gospel Jesus gave to the apostles (Mt 28:18-20, Mk 16:15-20, Lk 24:43-49), and which they preached (Acts 3:38-29, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-48, Acts 19:1-7).

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