Why It’s Jewish to Believe in the Messiah
By Nathan R.
Many Jewish people
assume that to believe that Yeshua (Jesus, in English) is the Messiah is to do something very goyish—something very “Gentile.” All our lives, we have been told that Yeshua is for the Gentiles and that He is therefore not the promised Messiah. And, it is for this reason that the Jewish community remains steadfast in its unwavering confession that “Jews don’t believe in Jesus!”
The fact that so many Gentiles do
believe in Yeshua has led most Jewish people to conclude that He must therefore not be for us! But this is exactly the opposite of what the Jewish Scriptures teach. The message of the Hebrew prophets is that the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s messianic plan is as old as our Hebrew Scriptures.
The Messianic Message of the Prophets
The Prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah would be a light to the nations: “I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). He would be a beacon of hope to the Gentiles, and bring them into a relationship with the God of Israel. Through this Jewish Messiah, the entire world would come to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Messianic expectations were at a fever pitch during the time of Yeshua. Israel’s religious leaders prayed for God to send the messianic Son of David to deliver Israel from her enemies, and to cast off the yoke of Roman oppression. The Jewish people longed for a deliverer Who would restore the nation to its former glory.
God did just that, but it was not the military victory that most first century Jewish people expected. Isaiah prophesied that “a shoot will spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1).
This verse emphasizes Messiah’s humble and lowly origins. The messianic House of David had been “cut down,” and appeared to be nothing more then a lifeless stump. But God did not forget His promise to save His people and preserve the royal messianic line.
Despite the fact that then current messianic expectations did not square with Isaiah’s prophecy, Yeshua came to Israel in just this manner. He was born in the small backwater town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and presented Himself to the nation without pomp or circumstance (Isaiah 42:1-4). He came as the humble Servant of the Lord who reconciles the nation to God by making atonement for their sins (Isaiah 53:1-12). He did not come in the regalia of a general, but in the form of a lowly foot soldier, so as to be better able to march alongside us.
The Servant of the Lord
The Messiah’s task was to reconcile the entire world to God. Yeshua came as a “light to the Gentiles” to open the eyes of those who dwelt in a land of spiritual darkness (Isaiah 9:1-3; 42:5-7; 60:1-3). Therefore, the fact that so many Gentile people have turned to Yeshua is not an argument against Yeshua’s messianic identity—it is rather proof of it! It was always God’s plan for non-Jews to embrace the Jewish Messiah.
Is it Jewish to believe in Yeshua? The Jewish people who accepted the message at the time it was given certainly thought so. Throughout the centuries, up to this day, there have been those among our people who have agreed with them. The Messiah said it Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one [Jewish or Gentile] comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
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