18. CHRIST and the CROSS: The Promised Redeemer, Part 2
“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’ he said.” (Acts 17:2-3)
“Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.’” (Acts 18: 27-28)
Day One Study
In the section below, read the Old Testament passages and describe what was promised about the Messiah. These are called Messianic Prophecies. Then read the New Testament references to Jesus’ fulfillment of these prophecies as the Messiah.
1. a. Prophecy: Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read the following verses to see what was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah.
· Matthew 27:14—
· John 12:37-40—
· Acts 8:30-35—
· 2 Corinthians 5:21—
· 1 Peter 2:21-25—
2. a. Prophecy: Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read the following verses to see what was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah.
· Matthew 26:27-28—
· Luke 22:20—
· Hebrews 8:7-13—
Day Two Study
3. a. Prophecy: Read Micah 5:1-2. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read Matthew 2:1-6. What was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah?
4. a. Prophecy: Read Zechariah 9:9. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read Matthew 21:1-5 and John 12:14-15. What was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah?
5. a. Prophecy: Read Daniel 9:24-27. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read Galatians 4:4. What was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah?
6. a. Prophecy: Read Psalm 22. What was promised about the Messiah?
b. Fulfillment: Read the following verses to see what was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah?
· Matthew 27:35-36—
· Matthew 27:43—
· Matthew 27:46—
· Mark 15:24—
· Mark 15:29-32—
· Luke 23:33—
· John 19:28—
· John 19:34—
· Acts 17:26—
· Philippians 2:10-11—
· Hebrews 2:11-12—
Day Three Study
7. For anyone who is honestly asking, “Who is Jesus?”, the evidence speaks for itself. For anyone of Jewish descent who is honestly asking, “What proof do you have that Jesus was the Messiah,” the evidence also speaks for itself. Jesus Himself, when quizzing His disciples about what others were saying about Him, asked the question in Mark 8:29 “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One).” Today, He asks the same question of us. “Who do you say I am?”
· Are you convinced that He is the Christ?
· Use a creative means (poem, song, drawing, art form, prose description) to explain your answer.
8. Spend some time meditating upon God’s plan to redeem us. Then, spend time in prayer thanking Him, etc.
Read the 2 essays about Jesus as Messiah, “Y’SHUA…Why That Name?” and “When the Messiah Comes,” following this lesson for additional insight into Jesus as the promised Messiah. Make notes about what you learn.
Y’shua…Why That Name?
The naming of the Messiah is recorded in the first chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew. In that account, Matthew describes an angel’s visit to Joseph, who was to become the guardian of the Messiah. (Angelic visitations preceding the birth of significant figures in Biblical history are not unusual. The births of Isaac and of Samson, for instance, were each preceded by an angelic visitor.) In Matthew’s account, the angel speaks to Joseph of the birth of the Messiah in these words: “She (Miriam) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Y’shua, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Much may be learned about the Messiah from considering this brief text. The name Y’shua is necessarily the name of a human being: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Y’shua.” Although it may seem obvious to many that the Messiah would be a human being, it is necessary to reaffirm this fact because we live in a day when religious thought is influenced by science fiction. And indeed, many allusions to a Messiah figure can be found in sci-fi films and books. But no, the Messiah could neither be an angel, nor some kind of extraterrestrial humanoid. He had to be a man. This is necessary for a number of reasons:
First, he had to be a man in order to satisfy the demands of prophecy. The prophets predicted numerous times that the Messiah would be born as a human being. Isaiah wrote of him: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders... Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Clearly the Messiah would be a human being.
Secondly, he had to be a man in order to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. The Scriptures reveal that one of the Messiah’s tasks was to offer Himself as a korban—a sacrifice—for the sins of His people. Although this understanding seems foreign to many Jews today, it was once widely accepted. For example, in the Midrash on the Book of Ruth, an allegorical interpretation is given to explain Ruth 2:14, “At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”‘ The following is written: “The fifth interpretation (of Ruth 2:14) makes it refer to the Messiah. ‘Come hither’ means approach to royal state. ‘And eat of the bread’ refers to the bread of royalty; ‘And dip thy morsel in the vinegar’ refers to His sufferings as it is said, ‘But He was wounded because of our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5).”‘ If the Messiah was to suffer because of our transgressions, as our substitute, it is appropriate that he be a man.
Thirdly, the Messiah had to be a man to satisfy our need for a compassionate high priest. While it is well known that the Messiah would be a king, not so well known is his function as a priest, i.e., one who represents his people’s cause to God. Yet this is what the prophet Zechariah declared in Zechariah 6:13, where he said that the Messiah would sit as a priest upon his throne. In order for him to be a compassionate high priest, he needed to be one of us.
More Than A Man
Not only is Y’shua the name of a man, but Y’shua is necessarily the name of one who was to be more than a man. Indeed, the Jewish Scriptures say that the Messiah would be called God. Two passages often used by the rabbis in reference to the Messiah clearly teach this: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is right and just in the land. In his days, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Finally, Y’shua is necessarily the name of the only one through whom we can find salvation. An examination of the meaning of the name and its background in the Jewish Scriptures reveals why this is so.
Y’shua means “the Lord saves.” It involves a combination of the name YHWH (the Ineffable Name) and the Hebrew root YASHA’. YASHA’ is related to an Arabic word, “to make wide, to make sufficient” as con basted with TSARAR, meaning “narrow.” Wideness came to connote “freedom” or “safety” which led to the root YASHA’, having the meaning: to be delivered to a position of freedom or safety.
In the Tenach, God is presented as the source of salvation, “Our God is a God who saves” (Psalm 68:20). Human agents are effective only as they are empowered by God. Ultimately, salvation had only one source—The Lord: “...And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21b, 22).
Although many of our people assume that the Tenach speaks only of salvation from physical distress, this is not so; the concept developed in the sacred writings to specify the promise of salvation from sin:
Salvation from What?
“They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their dwelling places where they sinned, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God...” (Ezekiel 37:23).
“Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 51:14). “Help us, O God, our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake” (Psalm 79:9).
Indeed, in Jeremiah 17:14 salvation is portrayed as a means of healing the effects of sin in our life and our relationship with God: “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah also specifies that God’s chosen agent of salvation is the Messiah. We see this in the passage quoted earlier (Jeremiah 23:6).
The Inevitable Name
The divine choice of Y’shua as the name for the Messiah has a “holy inevitability” and an iron clad logic. Salvation comes only from the Lord. The Messiah is the One through whom God accomplishes and culminates salvation. No wonder, then, that the angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Y’shua—the Lord saves—for he will save his people from their sins.”
It is Y’shua who brings us deliverance from the distress of our sins, bringing wholeness instead of woe.
“ He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).
Why should the name Y’shua be important to us to day?
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
When The Messiah Comes...
Oftentimes, Jews who come to believe in Jesus are told by their unbelieving families, “If you’d only known more about Judaism, if you’d only studied your own religion, you never would have come to believe this way.”
My parents never said that to me because, before I accepted Christ, I went to see an Orthodox rabbi on my own initiative.
You see, I had met some Jews for Jesus who had given me some very convincing arguments from the Scriptures apparently pointing to Jesus as the Messiah. However, I was afraid to just “jump in.” “How can I be sure?” I thought. My impetuousness had gotten me into trouble in the past. Once I had gotten involved in the occult. Another time, I had come very close to marrying a Gentile girl I knew I shouldn’t marry. The only sound thing to do, I thought, would be to see a rabbi and ask him what he thought of these Scriptures. After all, I figured he should know.
Rabbi Bogner and I sat and discussed the many passages the Jews for Jesus had pointed out. We began with the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. The Jews for Jesus said it talked about the Messiah. The rabbi said it referred to Israel. Then we studied Jeremiah 31:31-34 which talks of a “new covenant” that God would make with His people. The rabbi just scoffed at this one.
Finally, I brought to his attention Daniel 9, which, according to the Jews for Jesus, told the time of the Messiah’s coming.
At that, Rabbi Bogner told me he was prohibited by Talmudic Law from studying that chapter. When I asked why, he said, “Cursed be the man who calculates the time of the coming of the Messiah.” He knew that Daniel 9 did indeed contain God’s message to us as to when the Messiah would come. But he explained that the Talmud prohibited studying it because of the possible unbelief that could arise from some making incorrect calculations and being disappointed.
But this didn’t make any sense to me. Why would God give us a Book and then tell us not to read part of it? I didn’t think God played “cosmic games” on us.
I left the rabbi’s study a little perplexed. And with more courage than I thought I had in me, I plunged into my own study of Daniel 9. Now I knew I was not a Bible scholar, but I was no dummy either! As a college instructor I felt I had a good grasp of concepts and could follow a carefully reasoned argument to its conclusion. And having been trained as an accountant, I knew I could make whatever mathematical calculations were necessary.
Well, Daniel 9 referred to “an anointed one” being “cut off” after a certain number of weeks. The Hebrew word for “anointed”“ is “mashiach,” which, in Greek, is “christos” or “Christ.” Also, in the Bible, to be “cut off” meant to die. I then needed to calculate the number of weeks starting with the rebuilding of Jerusalem as stated in the Scripture verse, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks.” (Daniel 9:25) The only decree to go out was by Artaxerxes in 444 B.C.E. Biblically speaking, a week equals seven years and a sabbatical year, approximately 360 days. My computations were fairly simple, but the answer I got was difficult to accept.
This anointed one was to die in 32 C.E., the year Christ was crucified. I could not call this a coincidence. It would be like saying two plus two equals five.
I thought about Rabbi Bogner. It did help me to talk with him. For despite the Talmudic prohibition on studying that Scripture passage for fear of resulting unbelief, its study made me into a believer, a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.