As Jesus draws near to His time of crucifixion, His identity becomes increasing clear – not by spoken words such as “I am the Messiah” – but by miracles the prophets and rabbis said only the Messiah would be able to perform. At this same time, opposition from the religious establishment increases as they do not want to lose their positions of power and authority and Jesus did not fit into their preconceived ideas of what the messiah would be like.
12.03.01.Q1 What “Messianic problems” did the Jewish leaders have with Jesus?
The Jews had some serious difficulties with Jesus, primarily because He broke nearly every one of their sacred preconceived ideas of who the Messiah would be. But even among themselves, rabbis had different and conflicting opinions about Him, because, in their minds, there were obvious conflicts in Scripture concerning the coming of the messiah. Most of their paradoxical problems centered on the words of the highly esteemed prophet Isaiah. Had Isaiah’s life not been so profound and so many of his prophecies fulfilled, his words would easily have been dismissed. However, both Jesus and Isaiah provided the fuel for endless debates. Note the following difficulties, and some would say “oxymorons,” with which they were grappling.
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12.03.01.V Primary Messianic Expectations of First Century Jews in Israel. Dr. Darrell Bock discusses the different expectations the first century Jews had of the coming Messiah. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich.
Students today who are challenged by biblical difficulties are not alone. For centuries Jews scholars and rabbis could not reconcile various messianic prophecies that clearly opposed each other. These prophetic controversies became known as “Messianic Problems.” It was not until the death and resurrection of Jesus, that these issues were clarified. Below are some of the major issues that were discussed, even during the ministry days of Jesus.
- The Messiah will be humble and of honor
Humble: Isaiah 11:1-2
1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him —
a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Honored: Isaiah 53:12
12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,
and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.
- The Messiah is both man and God.
Man: Genesis 3:15
15 I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.
God: Isaiah 9:6
6 For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Prince of Peace.
(Note: Wonderful Counselor = Holy Spirit; Mighty God = God the Father; Prince of Peace = Jesus)
- The Messiah is both king and priest.
King: 2 Sam. 7:12,16
12 When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom … 16 Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”
Priest: Ps. 110:4
4 The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Melchizedek.”
- The Messiah is both the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice
Sacrificer: Isa. 50:6
6 I gave My back to those who beat Me,
and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard.
I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting.
Sacrifice: Isa. 53:7
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
- The Messiah is both the stumbling stone and cornerstone.
Stumbling stone: Isaiah 8:14
14 He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, He will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Cornerstone: Isaiah 28:16
16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.
12.03.01.A. CHART OF KEY CONFLICTS KNOWN AS MESSIANIC PROBLEMS. Key points of the Messianic Problem are shown above. The Jews pondered the words and actions of Jesus in light of “conflicting passages,” as they understood them, as well as their preconceived ideas of the messiah. After His death they refused to follow Him because He failed to usher in the messianic kingdom as they anticipated.
. See also 02.03.09 “Messianic Expectations”; 05.04.02.Q1 “What were the Jewish expectations of the Messiah?” and Appendix 25: “False Prophets, Rebels, Significant Events, and Rebellions that Impacted the First Century Jewish World”; 15.03.11.Q1 “What did Jesus say that caused the Sanhedrin to condemn Him?”
. See Appendix 7 for major Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.
. The Hebrew root word for “branch” is also the root word for the name of the village “Nazareth.” The debate hinges on whether the Greek word for “Nazareth” was derived from Hebrew netzer, meaning branch, or nazar, meaning to consecrate. See 04.05.04.Q1. The genealogy of Jesus can be traced to Jesse, the father of King David.
. See 1 Cor. 15:20-22.
. Parenthesis mine; See Ps. 45:6-7 where God the Father addresses the Messiah as God; cf. Heb. 1:7-9.
. The Mosaic Code clearly stated that no person could function in both offices of priest and king, so the question was: How could the messiah hold both offices?
. Four points of the kingship of Jesus: (1) The Davidic Covenant secures His throne and kingdom forever (Ps. 89:33-37); (2) He will be seated on this throne (Lk. 1:32-33), (3) He will rule the earth (Ps. 2:8-10), and (4) Everyone will bow to Him (Phil. 2:10-11).
. Scholars believe that Psalm 110 was a royal psalm, originally written for the enthronement of one of the kings of Judah. But in the course of time it was accepted as a prophetic psalm of the Messiah.
. Jesus could not have been in an earthly position of priesthood since he was of the tribe of Judah, and not Levi. However, He became a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who predated Aaron and Levi. See Heb. 7:14; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 285-86.
. See Heb. 7:27b.
. See “Cornerstone” in Appendix 26.
. To those who examine the words and work of Jesus but refuse to believe in Him, to those individuals He is a stumbling stone, a rock of offense. See also Lk. 20:17; Rom. 9:33.
. Jesus is the sure foundation wherein one can place their faith. See 1 Peter 2:6-8.