When it comes to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, the dividing point focuses on the Messiahship of Jesus. Today, Christians read passages in the Hebrew Bible and respond, “Why can’t the Jewish people see that the Messiah is supposed to suffer, die, and rise from the dead in order to make atonement for the sins of humanity?” Some of the other questions that are present in the Christian- Jewish dialogue include the debate as to whether there is a need for a mediator between God and man or whether God requires a human who sacrifices himself to make atonement!”1
It is incumbent upon the Orthodox Christian to be able to give an apologetic as to why Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Some may object and say, “Isn’t Jesus the Christian Messiah?” or “Is there another Messiah coming for the Jewish people?” Furthermore, if the Christian cannot demonstrate that a Messiah who became a man has to have the power to atone for sin, the Christian has no assurance that they have received the gift of salvation (Romans 6:23).
This article will treat the following issues that are crucial to interfaith dialogue between the Jewish and Christian community (1) The need to articulate and define the term “Messiah” in the Bible;(2) Defining the “functional” aspect of the Messiah in the Bible and how this relates to the Messianic task;(3) Explain the beginning stage of the Messianic task of Jesus; (4)Explain and defend Jesus’ Messianic task as an atoning Messiah; (5) Explain and defend the Messianic task of Jesus in relation to His resurrection;(6) Explain and defend how the Messianic task is ongoing and will be completed at His second coming.2
Explaining the term “Messiah”
The term “Messiah,” meaning “anointed one,” is taken from the Hebrew word “masiah,”which appears thirty-nine times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the term Messiah is translated as “christos” which was the official title for Jesus within the New Testament.2 Within the Hebrew Bible, the term “Messiah” was used in a general sense in relationship to kings, priests, and prophets.3 In the context of kings and prophets, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel (1 Sa 16:13), as well as the king of Judah (2 Sa 2:4). Later, since God allowed David to be anointed as the king of Israel (2 Sa 5:3), David fulfilled both the role of both prophet and king. King Saul and Moses are two Biblical figures that play a role in understanding the role of the Messiah.
During his failed position as king, Saul had also been called the anointed one of the Lord (1 Sa 16:13).4 Moses, in his leadership role to Israel, was anointed by God as well as his role as a prophet and priest. Moses spoke as a prophet (Deut 18:20), but we also see he fulfilled the role of a priest or mediator for Israel in passages such as Numbers 11:11-21.
Why Actions Matter: Defining the functional aspect of the Messiah
Ontology is a branch of philosophy that examines the study of being or existence. For example, when Jesus says, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9), ontology asks questions such as,” Is Jesus saying He has the same substance or essence of the Father?” Ontology is especially relevant in relation to the Trinity since Orthodox Christians are required to articulate how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the same substance or essence. While ontology has great relevance, it was not something that was on the minds of the New Testament authors. After all, they were Jews and not experts in Greek metaphysics.
However, within the Old Testament, there are Messianic texts such as Isaiah 52:13-53:1-13; 61:1-3, that focus upon the Messiah’s works rather than his essence or being.8 Perhaps this shows us that one of the starting points in Jewish-Christian dialogue is to understand the importance of the relationship between not only who the Messiah is but also what the Messiah does.
As the late Abraham Heschel once said, “Biblical ontology does not separate being from doing.” 5 Heshel goes on to say, “What is acts. The God of Israel is a God who acts, a God of mighty deeds.” 6
In contrast to ontological Christology, functional Christology emphasizes the actions of the Messiah. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he continually appealed to his actions as evidence of his Messiahship. We see this in the following Scriptures:
But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete the deeds I am now doing testify about me that the Father has sent me (John 5:36-5:36).
If I do not perform the deeds of my Father, do not believe me (John 10:37). But if I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the deeds, so that you may come to know and understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”(John 10:38).
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds (John 14:10).
If I had not performed among them the miraculous deeds that no One else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen the deeds and have hated both me and my Father (John 15:24).
Some of the visible actions of Jesus included the healing of the sick (Mark 1: 32-34; Acts 3:6; 10:38), teaching authoritatively (Mark 1:21-22; 13:31), forgiving sins (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 24:47; Acts 5:31; Col. 3:13), imparting eternal life (Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:12-14), raising the dead (Luke 7:11-17; John 5:21; 6:40), and showing the ability to exercise judgment (Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:19-29; Acts 10:42; 1 Cor 4:4-5). In Matthew 11:13, John the Baptist, who in prison after challenging Herod, sent messengers to ask Jesus the question:
“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus’ responded by appealing to the evidence of his miracles. As Jesus said, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Matt. 11:4-6).
Jesus’ evidential claim can be seen in the following syllogism:
1.If one does certain kinds of actions (the acts cited above), then one is the Messiah.
2. I am doing those kinds of actions.
3.Therefore, I am the Messiah
One of the most pivotal texts that speak about the first coming of the Messiah is Deuteronomy 18: 15-18:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18: 15-18)
In order to be like Moses, this prophet will have to be a “sign prophet.”
God says, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you” (Exod. 3:12).
When Moses asks God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” the Lord gives Moses two “signs”: his rod turns into a snake (Exod. 4:3) and his hand becomes leprous (Exod. 4:1–7).
Moses “performed the signs before the people, and they believed; … they bowed down and worshiped” (Exod. 4:30–31)
How does Jesus fulfill the role of a “sign prophet?”
Remember, “sign” (Gr.sēmeion) is used seventy-seven times (forty-eight times in the Gospels).
“Sign” is also used of the most significant miracle in the New Testament, the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave.
Jesus repeated this prediction of his resurrection when he was asked for a sign (Matt. 16:1, 4). Not only was the resurrection a miracle, but it was a miracle that Jesus predicted (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 20:19; John 2:19).
Nicodemus said of Jesus “We know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).
Hence, if the New Testament texts about the Messiah are more focused upon the “works,” or functions of the Messiah, rather than simply his essence or being, can the apologist point to the beginning point of the Messianic task of Jesus? We see the following text as the starting point of Jesus’ messianic task:
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).
The apologist who is already cognizant of Jesus’ essence can argue for a functional Christology by asserting that Jesus was anointed for the Messianic task though John’s baptism. We see the pattern where the king is anointed by a prophet in passages such as when Samuel anointed Saul (1 Sam 10:1). We also see the same pattern when Samuel anointed David (1 Sam 16:13) as well as when a prophet anointed Jehu (2 Kings 9:1-3). Arguing for a functional Christology does not mean that Jesus was not already pre-existent before the foundation of the world. It simply enables the Christian apologist to clarify when Jesus’ Messianic task on earth actually began.
The Messiah’s Suffering and Atonement
The next stage to the Messianic task is the atonement of Jesus. The word atonement is translated from the Hebrew word “kaphar” which means “to cover,” but can also take on a broader meaning such as “expiation,” “condoning,” “wiping away” or “canceling.” Many times, the Christian community has tried to use Isaiah 53 as the dominant Messianic passage in the Hebrew Bible to point to the Messiahship of Jesus. It is naive to think at the time of Jesus, the Jewish community was in agreement about one Messianic expectation. Some of the Messianic expectations included a prophetic Messiah, a priestly Messiah, and a warrior-king Messiah. Whatever the case, the Messianic expectation at the time of Jesus was by no means monolithic. After his resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples:
Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory? Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24: 25-27).
This passage leads us to explain how Jesus understood the next step after John’s baptism was to make atonement for the sins of the world.
Isaiah 53: The Actions of the “Ebed”
In John 1: 29, when John the Baptist says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” we may ask, “What lamb is John talking about in this bold proclamation?” When we examine the priests function in Leviticus 4:1-34, we see the sin offering of four different categories of people: the high priest (vv. 3-12); the whole congregation of Israel (vv. 13-21); a leader (vv. 22-26); and a commoner (vv. 27-35). Even though the high priest was consecrated, he was by no means sinless and could not offer up himself for the whole congregation. In Leviticus 4:3, if the priest sinned himself, the guilt was not only on the priest, but on the whole congregation. The priest was responsible for offering up a calf without blemish to make atonement. The shortcomings of the priest were a foreshadowing for the need for a better priest as stated in the following passage:
But when Christ appeared a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to erve the living God?(Hebrews 9:11-14).
In relation to look Isaiah 53, the word “Servant” in Hebrew is “ebed,” which can be defined as a slave, servant, or official. Therefore, it depends on the context in which it is used. It says in Isaiah 53:10, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” In order for the Servant to make full expiation, he made his soul an “asham” i.e.,” a propitiatory victim for sin on which the guilt and penalty being laid, ceases to be imputed to us. The Servant, the Lamb, is seen as a trespass offering, and one who takes the sin of not just a few, but the entire world. Remember, John the Baptist says in John 1:29 “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” As evident as Isaiah 53 may be to the Christian community about its predictions of a suffering or atoning Messiah, the Christian community can at times be ignorant to the fact the Jewish community finds it unacceptable for a human to be sacrificed for sin. We see the objection to Isaiah 53 as portraying a Jesus as a suffering servant in the work of anti-missionary literature. One example of this is demonstrated by Rabbi Stuart Federow. Federow objects to the idea of a human sacrifice for sin by citing the following two passages:
” The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the father. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:1).
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, You have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Eternal; perhaps I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Eternal, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin and if not, blot , I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Eternal said unto Moses, whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the Eternal plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made (Exodus 32:30-35).
According to Federow, the Deuteronomy passage states that every man shall be guilty for his own sin. Federow also submits that the Exodus passage demonstrates that God would not accept Moses as a sacrifice for the sins of the people.7 Consequently, here the Christian apologist has to explain how God will accept a righteous man as an atonement for sin. Unfortunately, Rabbi Federow fails to practice the hermeneutical principle of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Federow only quotes the parts of the Torah that support his position and leaves out the rest. He fails to look at other passages in relationship to a mediator, sin, and Israel. Let us look at the following Scripture:
The Lord said to Moses, How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?” I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they. But Moses said to the Lord, Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. “Now if You slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will say,’ Because the Lord could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness. But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations. Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. So the Lord said, I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord (Numbers 11:11-21).
Here, Moses stood as a mediator between Israel and God, and God pardoned Israel’s sin. Remember, the term “Messiah” can refer to kings, prophets and priests. In this passage (Number 11:11-21), Moses, the prophet, acts as a High Priest perhaps in the order of Melchizedek. As we will see, Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God, even though he predated the Levitical priesthood. In relation to biblical and rabbinic teaching, Messiah is to be like Moses.
Also, in Numbers 25:13 states that God promised Phinehas and descendents a lasting covenant of peace “because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.” What we see is the illustration of how the death of the ringleaders served as a payment for the specific sins of the community on a corporate level.
In the context of Numbers 35, we also see where the High Priest’s death had the power to make atonement. It says in Numbers 35:33 that in the case of deliberate homicide, the murderer had to be put to death, because “bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the one who shed it.” If the situation involved unintentional homicide, the responsible party was required to flee to a protected place called a city of refuge, where he had to remain the rest of his life (Numbers 35: 1-15, 22-25). 8 In relation to the possibility of a righteous person atoning for sin, the passage goes on to say, “ The accused must stay in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the High Priest may he return to his own property.”(Numbers 35:28). So we see in the case of the manslayer who committed an unintentional crime, the only way for the manslayer to be released was by the High Priests death. We can conclude that the High Priest atoned for sin through his service in the tabernacle, but he also atoned for accidental homicide.9
A Priestly Messiah
While traditional Judaism today has focused more on the kingly aspect of Messiah, Christianity emphasizes the dual role of the Messiah: priest and king. As we saw previously, Moses served as a priest in his mediation between God and Israel. Both Moses and the Messiah were both to fulfill the role of a priest although neither of them were qualified as Temple High Priests since they were not from the Aaronic lineage. We can offer a case for the Messiah who is a High Priest by studying Psalm 110. In order for Jesus to be our High Priest, he would have to take people’s sin upon Himself as well as intercede for them:
The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My Right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for my feet.’ The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion saying, Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.” Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power; In holy array from the womb if the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedeck (Psalm 110:1-4).
We see in this passage that the Messiah has three additional roles other than a king. They are (1) a priest appointed by God, (2) an eternal office holder, and (3) a Melchizedeck priest-king. In other words, the Messiah is after the order of Melchizedeck but he exercises his office after the pattern of Aaron. In Genesis 14: 1-17, wee see the story of Melchizedeck who was a king of Salem. Melchizedeck brought forth bread and wine and blessed Abraham, telling Abraham he owed his military victory to God. The word Melchizedeck is derived from “melchi,” which means “king” and “zedek’ which means “righteousness.”10
Therefore, Melchizedeck means “king of righteousness.” In the New Testament, the book of Hebrews goes to great length to explain this issue. It says:
For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated the alter. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedeck, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of Him, Thou art a priest forever according to Melchizedeck (Hebrews 7:12-16).
The Bible gives no indication of Melchizedeck having an actual father or mother or any kind of genealogy. The author of Hebrews uses Melchizedeck as a picture of Jesus because both Melchizedeck and Jesus do not have to rely upon descent as Aaron’s sons did in order to operate their priesthoods.11
Jesus did not belong to the priestly tribe of Levi, but instead came through the kingly tribe Judah. While the author of Hebrews portrays Melchizedeck as a priest who abides forever in a pictorial sense, Jesus abides as a priest forever in an actual sense. 12 If Jesus’ intention was to perform the role of a priest in an eternal sense, He would have to be sanctified, or consecrated for the purpose of atoning for the sins of the world. Jesus comments on this issue in John 17:19: “For them I sanctify myself, that they may too be truly sanctified.”
The Resurrection and ascension
In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul says, “Unless Christ has been raised, you are still in your sins, your faith is futile.” For the follower of Messiah, there is no salvation if Jesus was not raised from the dead. As stated earlier, from a functional rather than an ontological perspective, we discussed how Jesus began his Messianic task at the beginning of John’s baptism. But where else can we expect another aspect of Jesus’ Messianic work? One of Peter’s apostolic sermons offers some insight:
That Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:32).
In Peter’s quote, another aspect of Jesus’ Messianic work is His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. As Paul says in Romans 1:4, “who (Jesus), was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Remember, the Messiah has to be both a priest and a king. In order for Jesus to function as a priest forever according to Melchizedeck (Psalm 110:4), He had to be resurrected from the dead. God was pleased to vindicate His Servant through the resurrection:
But does Isaiah 53 teach that the Messiah will be raised from the dead? David Flusser, the late Jewish scholar of Hebrew University said the following about Isaiah 53:
Although no Jewish interpretation of this passage, which would explain that the Servant will be a prophet or the Messiah who will be killed, is preserved, such an interpretation could have existed. If an interpretation of Isa. LIII in this vein ever existed in Judaism, this would have been important for the concept that the prophet will again come to life. Though the servant “was pierced for our transgressions, tortured for our iniquities” (v.5), he “shall enjoy long life and see his children’s children (v.10). So Isa LIII could be understood not only as speaking about the death of the Servant, but implicitly about his resurrection. 10
Jesus as Ruler
In the following passages, it can be seen that the God of Israel is ruler of all things:
Yours O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splender, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all, Wealth and honor come from you; you are ruler of all things (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, what have You done (Daniel 4:34-35).
We see in these passages that God is portrayed as above all. Another Scripture that is similar to Psalm 110:1 that was used heavily by the early Christian community is Psalm 8:6:”You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” We now begin to see that through Jesus’ resurrection, He comes to participate in God’s exclusive rule. The New Testament authors identify Jesus as literally in God’s presence and at His right hand (Acts 2:24-33; 5:31; 7:55-56; Eph.1:20-21; Col.3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 2 Peter 3:22).
The following Old Testament passage supports the idea that the Messiah will reign over the nations. “His dominion shall be from one sea to the other; from the River to the ends of the earth”(Ps. 72.8). It also says in Isaiah 11:10, “The root of Jesse shall rise to rule the nations; in him shall the nations hope.”
By participating in God’s rule, Jesus is able to place all things in subjection under His feet. We see this theme in the following Scriptures:
Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation (Revelation 3:14).
Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet (Ephesians 1:21-22).
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:1-4).
For Jesus to currently fulfill the Messianic task and “make his enemies a footstool,” he must reign at the right hand of God from his first to second coming.
Because of the resurrection, Jesus was able complete the task of making atonement for our sins as our great High Priest. Jesus does reign through the Holy Spirit in every single person who confesses and believes in Him as their Lord (Romans 10:9). Furthermore, His Messianic work is ongoing because of his current role as an advocate and priest for His people (1 John 2:2; Romans 8:34).
To reiterate the Christian position, the work of the Messiah is not accomplished in one stage. Rather, the work of the Messiah is accomplished in a series of stages: (1) The consecration at John’s baptism; (2) Messiah’s death; (3) Messiah’s resurrection;(4) Messiah’s present role as priest and advocate for His people which is presently happening (1 John 2:2; Romans 8:34); (5) Messiah’s current positional rule or Lordship over the Church and His enemies. And we see in the final work of the Messiah is in the future. Peter discussed this issue in the following passage:
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:19-21).
In this passage, Peter pleads with the Jewish people to repent and turn to Jesus so that God would complete the Messianic task by sending Jesus for the second time. In order to finish the Messianic task, Jesus will return to establish his earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:1-15).
In this article, we have discussed the importance of the Messianic task of Jesus. If Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah, he cannot be the Messiah of the entire world. Jesus cannot possibly be called the “Christian Messiah” in the sense that there is another, entirely different Messiah coming in the future for the Jewish people. In order to carry out the dual role of priest and king, the Messiah had to make atonement for our sins through his death and resurrection. We can point to the consecration at John’s baptism as the beginning point of Jesus’ Messianic work. However, the Messianic work continued through a series of stages and is possibly nearing its final completion. Hopefully, both the Christian and Jewish community will be open to dialogue so both can come together and practice what God said to his people in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together.”
1. See Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol 2. (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2000).
2. Oskar Skarsaune, In The Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity (Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 305-312.
3.Walter Kaiser, The Messiah In The Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1995), 15.
5. Abraham J. Heshel, The Prophets (New York, N.Y: 1962 Reprint. Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers 2003), 44.
7. Stewart Federow, Jews believe that one person cannot die for the sins of another person.” [Online], available :[10 June 2007].
8. Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol 3 (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2000), 40-83.
10.Murphy Jenson, Hebrews: A Self-Study Guide (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1970), 57.
10. David Flusser, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem