In this modern era, why are people around the world reverencing, worshiping and extolling Jesus Christ; a man who supposedly lived approximately 2 thousand years ago? Who is He really? Is He simply a made up religious character or did He actually live on earth as millions (maybe billions by now) believe throughout history He did? That’s the topic of this blog series. To find out if it’s necessary to accept the reality of Jesus.
We left off from the first installment in this series with what the Jews say about Jesus. Hebrew and Jewish scholars know their own history that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary; both from the tribe of Judah and both from the bloodline of King David (father of Solomon). Although they accept their history without controversy, they struggle to accept Jesus as their long awaited Messiah. To better understand why they don’t accept Him as Savior, we must look at His claims recorded in The Toledot Yeshu, The Book of the Generations/History/Life of Jesus:
Yeshu proclaimed, ‘I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, ‘David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: ‘The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.’ …He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah… On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many bowed down before him.”
The Toledot Yeshu was written primarily to disprove that Jesus was Who He said He was; the prophesied Messiah. I bring this into the conversation because they would not have gone so far to disprove the claims of a non-existent person. Who does that? It would not have made sense. There are no books, manuscripts of any kind attempting to disprove the existence of the Roman Caesars i.e. Marcus, Tiberius, Titus or the Emperor Nero. No one dedicates a book to dispute the historical existence of Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. Why, because they lived here in the flesh in the same way we know from the Jewish historians Jesus lived also. In fact, the argument whether He was an historic figure has long been established. That’s not the dispute. The dispute is whether He is the Only Begotten Son of God as He said He is.
Is Jesus the Messiah? What does that really mean anyway? If you look it up it means: the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. Beyond that definition He is also the Deliverer of mankind. The Jewish Prophet Isaiah wrote the following in his self titled book chapter 9; verse 6:
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
This is a very bold proclamation concerning the Messiah coming from one of the Jews most respected prophets of ancient times. His prophecy features the Person Who would be born into the world Who would have the government resting on His shoulders. He fully understood the penalty for speaking falsehoods; death by stoning. This being understood, he would not have prophesied that God was sending a child, a son who would ultimately rule the government if it wasn’t so. Well, the truth is anybody can say “a child will be born one day to become King or Ruler over Israel.” I could do that? The Prophet didn’t stop there though. He gave very specific identifiers as to Who he was talking about: He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
What an astonishing prophecy. Did Jesus fulfill the requirements of the Person offered in the details? What about the Wonderful Counselor part? When He was a 12 year old kid He and His family traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Jewish feast of Passover. At some point during the trip home His parents lost track of Him. Supposing He was with relatives they traveled a day’s journey before aggressively looking for Him; not finding Him they became worried and doubled back to Jerusalem. Here’s what Luke 2:45 says happened:
When they couldn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Picture this: A young tween in a scenario where he is schooling scholars on their expertise at a high level; asking questions and spitting knowledge they had to reach for. What a scene. That must have blown their minds. How did this kid gain a lifetime worth or knowledge at such a young age? To their knowledge the best rabbinical instructors in all the land could not have imparted such depth of knowledge as he possessed. And this was only one example where Jesus displayed awe inspiring knowledge and insight never seen before. An inspection of each recorded incidence would easily convince the ardent skeptic that He was the Wonderful Counselor (Teacher) mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy. We’ll continue our discussion in the next installment. Until then be blessed God willing.