Waiting for the Messiah
The Jews have missed the Messiah. He came and fulfilled all the Jewish prophecies. He was with them for thirty-three years, and, yet, they killed him. At about four B.C., Jesus was born to a carpenter and a virgin at Bethlehem during the census required by Caesar Augustus. He lived as a Jew and spent three years publicly proclaiming and performing miracles to support that he was the long awaited one. Despite all this, he was hated to death, literally, by the very people he came to save. So even though the Messiah came proclaiming himself as such and proving it through miracles, the Jews, who were expecting the Messiah because of the Old Testament prophecies, ended up rejecting him.
Jesus identified himself, to his friends and enemies, as the Messiah by the titles he gave himself. First of all, Jesus plainly called himself the Messiah. This is very important because in Hebrew “Messiah” means “anointed.” “In the Old Testament ‘the anointed one,’ or ‘the anointed one of the lord,’ means the king or any king, and it alludes to the rite of anointing with which the king was enthroned in his kingly dignity, in virtue of which he became a sacred and untouchable person” (Messiah). In the New Testament, though, “Messiah” meant “salvation.” Jesus was the anointed king who came to save us. Two other names Jesus called himself were “Son of God” and “Son of Man” which are two very different names. “Son of Man,” in the literal translation from Arabic, means “a man”. “Son of God” showed a personal relationship with Jesus and God the father. Thus Jesus was saying he was God and man in one person identifying himself as Emmanuel, God with us, as the prophets foretold. Also, Jesus called himself “I Am.” When Moses asked God for his name, Jesus, talking to the Pharisees, took on this name and equated himself to God by saying, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (RSV Jn. 8.58). Lastly, Jesus called himself “the Good Shepherd.” This is significant because a good shepherd had to be a self-giver. He had to be willing to sacrifice all for the protection of his flock. Jesus came to do just that. He gave his life to save us from the devil. Therefore, Jesus carefully chose titles for himself in order to show he was the Messiah.
Likewise, the miracles Jesus did proved that he was God and the expected Messiah. For example, the story of the healing of the paralytic let down through the roof of a house by his friends. Jesus forgave the paralytic man his sins, but since the Pharisees did not believe Jesus could do that, Jesus also physically cured the man. This cure was a visible way to show the Pharisees that he could forgive sins and, therefore, was God because only God could forgive sins. Also, the raising of Lazarus from the dead proved to the religious leaders that he was God since God, and God alone, has power over death. Another miracle was when Jesus was in a desert place in the evening, and the people had no food. After breaking the five loaves and the two fish, we are told that “all were full and were satisfied,” but we are also told that “those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (RSV Mt. 14.21). This demonstrated that Jesus was God because who could feed five thousand plus people with five loaves and two fish but God? All these miracles and more were performed by Jesus to prove that he was God and the Jews’ Messiah.
Now, the Jews had many prophets that foretold of a coming Messiah, which Jesus fulfilled, but the Jews refused to see and instead killed him. The people of Israel (according to their interpretation of the prophesies) expected a ruler of the world. When the Messiah was the ruler of the world, the Jews thought that that meant he would rule the material world. Jesus’s kingdom was spiritual, though, and his church, the Catholic Church, has no boundaries. Also, prophets foretold of the Messiah bringing everyone into one religion. The Jews assumed that to mean all would be Jewish. However, Jesus started a new religion and united us all as Christians. Likewise, the Jews thought the Messiah’s desire, when he was ruler of the world, would be to teach all, the ways of God according to the Jewish law. Jesus, though, taught that the way of God was love not the law. Finally, Jesus came as the suffering servant well prophesied by the prophets. To the Jews, this could not be if he was to be a king. The Jews wanted the Messiah to be a material king. So when Jesus came, the Jewish leaders did not see him as he was. Since Jesus was insistent that he was the Messiah and the people believed him as such, the Jewish leaders finally had him killed. To this day, they are still waiting for the Messiah because they did not interpret the Old Testament in a spiritual light.
The Jewish leaders and the people themselves, in the end, disbelieved in Jesus as the Messiah despite his claims and miracles. The prophets foretold that God would send a Messiah so the people eagerly waited. Yet, when Jesus came proclaiming he was the expected one and proving it with his miracles, most rejected him because he was not what they had hoped for. Therefore, as the Jews at Caesar Augustus time where waiting for the Messiah so are the Jews to this present day waiting for the Messiah.
Revised Standard Version. Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1952. Print.
“Messiah.” The New World Dictionary Concordance to the New American Bible. 1970. Print.