Meet a Man Called Messiah Jesus
We Christians should be very clear about the identity of the one to whom we claim loyalty. Our textbook, the Bible, introduces him with delight, simplicity, and meticulous care. Before you have completed reading the first chapter of Matthew and Luke, you will have learned that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, the Son of God (which is a synonym for the King of Israel: John 1:49). You will have learned that Jesus is the biological son of Mary, the legal son of Joseph, and of course the Son of God, by creative miracle. The reason for him being the Son of God is spelled out with matchless clarity and simplicity in Luke 1:35: It is “because of” — “precisely for this reason” (dio kai) — that God became his Father by miracle in Mary. That seems to be so reasonable and just what we expect for the origin of the second Adam, the head of the new creation. Luke 1:35 is the definitive and decisive, lifechanging text for defining how, why and when Jesus originates as the Son of God. To miss this angelic definition of Jesus is to miss the core of the whole NT, indeed the whole Bible. It wasn’t long after Bible times that the Son of God of Luke and the NT was transformed into a figure barely recognizable as the Jesus of history. He was lifted out of history and given a new and confusing identity. Scholars have conducted a never-ending “quest for the historical Jesus,” implying that he was lost! But the quest had been successfully undertaken by Matthew and Luke and the rest of the NT writers! No need to look further. Jesus is there in the opening chapters of the NT. He is the Messiah and the supernaturally procreated Son of God.
Jesus is also the descendant of Judah (Heb. 7:14). He is of the tribe of Judah. He is also the son of Adam, and of Eve (as the seed of the woman). Move two chapters ahead in Luke to find that Jesus is the son of Adam who was the son of God (Luke 3:38). As a child from the womb of Mary Jesus is the uniquely begotten man, the Son of Man, the Messiah, King of Israel. He is also of course the walking embodiment of God’s preplanned wisdom and word (John 1:1, 14). But Jesus is not “God the Son,” making two Gods. A 17th-century orthodox bishop and theologian, Thomas Ken, was rightly puzzled by the amazing definition which the Church by then had long held as traditional —the idea that Jesus was the “eternally generated Son.” He mused: “Strange generation this! Father and Son co-eternal. Two distinct and yet but one.” Matthew and Luke, and especially Mary, would have been aghast at such non-biblical, philosophical jargon and, one might ask, ought we not to be asking questions about how and where our church got its creed and its definition of Jesus? Is all that language about “essence” and “Persons” really intelligible by scriptural standards? Our quest for truth can be expedited by another excellent Bible text. Here it is:
A wonderful title for Jesus can be discovered before you have completed Luke 1. According to Elizabeth, Jesus is “my lord.” Elizabeth hailed Mary as “the mother of my lord” (Luke 1:43). She is not “the mother of my GOD” (!) as later misdescribed in post-biblical theology. And “my lord” is derived from the most interesting of all titles, the one found in Psalm 110:1 where God (the YHVH of the Hebrew Bible) addressed an inspired oracle through David to “my lord” (adoni). His instructions were that this descendant of David was to sit at the right hand of the One God, until his enemies are subdued under his feet. This text provides the golden key to the constitution and plot for the whole Bible! That is why it is quoted more often than any OT text in the NT. That “my lord” of Psalm 110:1 is the very same “man of My right hand” of Psalm 80:17, “the man whom God has made strong for Himself.” The one at the right hand of God is the supremely exalted man Messiah, not a second God! Psalm 110:1 was the subject of Jesus’ master-question. With this verse he stumped all his opponents. Another stellar text describing who the real Jesus is found in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. This verse is cited by Peter (Acts 3:22) and Stephen (Acts 7:37, as he died at the hands of hostile Jews): God promised to produce from the ranks of Israel a prophet like Moses. He was to be God’s final word to the world, and any who did not yield to him and his teachings would be rooted out from among the people. God would hold them accountable for refusing the words of His final agent, the Son of God, Jesus. This is the biblical identity of Jesus as Messiah. With this list of titles for the great central personage of the biblical drama, you can move forward from Matthew 1 to an intelligent reading of the great biblical drama. Your destiny is bound up with the Messiah, who died for the sins of the world, and you are invited to rule on earth with him in his coming Kingdom. It will be wise to drop titles like “God the Son” (making a second God) and omit from your thinking any myths about “going to heaven when you die.” That will prove to be a disastrous diversion from the plot of the real and only biblical story. The Messiah Jesus is going to return from heaven to the earth, which will be renewed and become the scene of the very first successful world government, the Kingdom of God, with headquarters in Jerusalem. “May His Kingdom come!”
Excerpt from Focus on the Kingdom – Vol. 14 No. 5, February, 2012
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