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|Some Jews Say||Marty Replies|
|Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications prophesied for God’s Messiah.||
Many of the personal qualifications Jews cite for the Messiah are interpretations the rabbis made after Jesus’ incarnate life. Since the rabbis want to deny Jesus, it’s easy for them conclude from some the tradition that Jesus was not the Messiah. Let’s look at some of the more popular objections in this area.
|A. Messiah as Prophet. Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE), when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets -- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.||
It is remarkable to deny that Jesus was a prophet based on the date of His arrival on earth, rather than on when He actually prophesied. God had promised Moses, Deut 18:18 “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” An important character of a prophet is that he speaks not for himself but for God. Jesus said, Jn 5:19 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.” He emphasized, Jn 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” And all of the synoptic evangelists quote Him in the extraordinary prophecy of the Temple destruction. Mt 24:1 “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Mk 13:2 “And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Lk 21:3 “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” The Temple was so immense, so substantial, that a fulfilled prophecy of its destruction could only come from God.
|B. Descendant of David. The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father -- and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David!||
Jews who try this one surely have not thought it through. If they argue that Jesus could not be descended on His father’s side from King David because His was a virgin birth, they are affirming that His birth was miraculous. But there is much more. The angel told Joseph, Mt 1:20 “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” The angel could have addressed Joseph in the traditional manner, “Joseph, son of Jacob,” Mt 1:16 but He specifically said, “Joseph, son of David” to present His Son as being in the line of David. Moreover, the angel showed that, despite the need for a divine Person to place a divine Person within Mary’s womb, our Father intended Joseph to be a real father. In Jewish law since the time of Adam the power to name someone or something expresses dominion over it. Only a father or mother has authority to name a child. The archangel Gabriel had told Mary before the Child was conceived, Lk 1:31 “You shall call his name Jesus.” The angel’s command to Joseph three months later, Mt 1:21 “You shall call his name Jesus,” meant that Joseph was to be a true father to Jesus.
C. Torah Observance. The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4).
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), ‘He does not observe Shabbat!’”
Let us look at the Scripture. Deut 13:1 “If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him.”
If the Pharisees had been tzaddikim, holy sages, we might have to take their analysis seriously. However, Jesus pointed out that they had become corrupt. Mt 15:1 “Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.’ He answered them, ‘And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.” But you say, “If any one tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.’ So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God.”
Jesus did not change the Torah. Rather, He showed us what our Father had placed in it on Mt. Sinai. Jesus explained the summary this way: Jesus taught, Mt 22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
Jewish tradition holds that the Shma summarizes all of the Ten Commandments. In the Book of Deuteronomy the Shma Deut 6:4 follows the Ten Commandments Deut 5:6 as if it were a summary. Deut 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Jesus’ second great commandment is implicit in the Shma itself. If we love God, we must also love His image and likeness. Gen 1:27 But it also appears explicitly in the Torah. Lev 19:18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The first four commandments (in the Jewish way of counting) teach us how to love God: First, Ex 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” It can be understood as a commandment to worship God. Second, Ex 20:3-6 “You shall have no other gods before me.” Third, Ex 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” Fourth, Ex 20:8-11 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The remaining six teach us how to love one another. Fifth, Ex 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother.” We are to respect all who have authority over us, our Father in heaven most of all, but also parents and teachers. On the second tablet were the commandments teaching us how to love one another. Sixth, Ex 20:13 “You shall not kill.” Seventh, Ex 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.” Eighth, Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.” Ninth, Ex 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Tenth, Ex 20:16 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
All of the 613 mitzvot are, moreover, summarized in the Ten Commandments, which in turn are summarized in the Shma. Each one tells us in some way how to love God, or our fellow man. These are all the subjects of the 613 mitzvot; every one fits either under love for God or love for one another!
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