You have probably heard that Jesus really never claimed to be the Jewish Messiah but maybe only the Gentile Messiah. Many will claim, even within Rabbinic/Modern Judaism, that Jesus was a good man, a godly man, maybe even a prophet, but certainly not the Messiah of the Jewish people because of any number of reasons … which we will discuss later (I PROMISE!). But in this section, we just want to answer one simple question – Did Jesus actually claim to be the Messiah? To begin to answer this question … we are going back in time to “funnest” of all Jewish holidays … Hanukkah.
Yes, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and you actually can find the story in the New Testament! Check out John 10:22-39 if you don’t believe me but let me give you the highlights of the story here (FYI – some Bible versions call it the Feast of Dedication but it is Hanukkah):
- It is roughly CE 30 and it has been about 200 years since the Maccabees kicked Greek tail but since then everything has fallen apart … the Romans invaded Judea about 45 years before Jesus was born and the people’s view of Messiah had changed from spiritual in nature to one who would come and kick the Romans out – just like the Maccabees had done.
- So in verse 24 when the leadership asked Jesus basically – “Are You the Messiah Already?” They weren’t asking him a spiritual question but a military question and this is key to the whole situation not only then but also now because how many times have you heard that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He did not bring “peace” to the Jewish people and the land?
- So let’s talk about the word peace/shalom and what does it really mean? Shalom has never meant the absence of war. Shalom means wholeness or completeness … ask the rabbi! Therefore, shalom truly indicates an inward, spiritual quality of the heart & soul. And this is what Jesus promised His followers who had a personal relationship with Him in John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And I think that we could all agree that this type of shalom is better because it is more constant/personal and not near as fickle as “world peace.”
- FYI – When John talks about “the Jews” (and we will talk about this question/concern in another section), he is referring to the Jewish leadership at the time and not all Jewish people. Please remember that John was Jewish!
- Jesus then spends the next several verses in John 10 not only talking about the miracles that He had done which would have qualified Him to be Messiah but also about the fact that He and God are (cue dramatic music if you want) … ONE (John 10:30)! Yes, Jesus used the ECHAD word from Deut. 6:4. He claimed not only to be the Messiah but also equality with God and that He was God. Whoa … this goes beyond simply claiming to be the Messiah does it not?!
Yes, it does and that is why we began this section with the C. S. Lewis statement and began this whole website with the Incarnation Issue. To Explore Messiah…? is a whole big eternal shebangy issue to consider and we want to be completely transparent with you. Jesus was not simply good guy who taught really cool ideas about recycling and being nice to people. He is someone completely different than what you have ever been taught. But He is worth the exploration…
The “I Am” Statements of Jesus – What Was He Really Saying/Meaning?
In fact, John considered the whole Messiahship/Deity/Divinity concept of Jesus so important that he wrote in the Greek about Jesus’ usage of a particular phrase that is compelling, intriguing and revealing — Ego Eimi – that we translate into English as “I Am” but really should be translated as “I I Am.”
Yes … the last paragraph was made intentionally large for a reason. Ego is the Greek pronoun for “I” and Eimi in the Biblical Greek translates as “I Am.” Jesus was personalizing the personal name of God from Exodus 3 that today is never spoken or written for Himself in the synagogue and He was doing it for a very important reason.
Again … we have thrown a boatload at you in this section. I am reminded of one of my favorite songs of all times at this moment because perhaps you are feeling the way that Bono felt when he wrote the lyrics for “I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For” (click here to go see the original 1980s video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3-5YC_oHjE:
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
So … If you would like to discuss this idea with us, come to the CAFÉ Kehillah Discussion Board and someone will either be there or will get back to you ASAP. Until then continue on your journey of exploring just who the Messiah really is because it is possible to find who you are looking for here or here for example …