Who is the Messiah?
When it comes to viewing the Messiah, Christians and Jews have different perspectives on His role in salvation and kingship.
Christians agree that the Messiah is the One who saves them from their sins. But as a ruler – they see Him more as a “spiritual King” rather than a powerful earthly king who brings justice. Contrastingly, many Jews are expecting first and foremost a fair and powerful king to rule over Israel. Only then, they wonder what practical good comes with an internal justification.
In reality, and in the Christmas story, both are true. The Messiah is a promise of forgiveness of sins and to be King of Israel.
Kingship of Messiah
What does the Bible promise Israel about her King? Here are just a few prophesies:
- God made a covenant that a man from David’s line will rule on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7).
- A child would be born, given the government, have an ever expanding Kingdom and would be called Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6-7).
- A man born in Bethlehem who will rule Israel — whose origins are from eternity (Micah 5:2).
The Christmas story begins when Gabriel arrives to tell Mary “you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
It is true and necessary that Jesus came to forgive sins. But the first prophecy over Jesus is that He will rule on David’s throne over Israel forever. Throughout Yeshua’s teachings, He loved to talk about the Kingdom. This is because He is a King and was promised a Kingdom. And not just any kingdom, but the Kingdom of Israel and the kingdoms of this world.
King of Jews
What if it weren’t true, and referred to some type of “celestial kingdom in the clouds”? That would mean that God does not plan to keep His word and promise to David and Israel. And we know that this is not the character of God.
After His birth, the Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem to worship the King of the Jews. They expected Him in Jerusalem, where David ruled from and where the king of the Jews should sit (Matthew 2:1-6). These men clearly understood the divine aspect of this King as they were following “His star.”
What King or man has ever had his own star that led others to him? This child was more than just a child – He was one the heavens obeyed. When they found Him, they gave Him gifts for a king and worshipped Him as such.
It is for this reason that, after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples asked Him: “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). When our theology removes Israel from the New Testament, this question seems out of place. Yet to the Jewish boys who asked it, it made perfect sense.
Here was a man, Yeshua, and angels announced His birth. They announced a King who would reign over Israel forever. He was born in Bethlehem according to the Hebrew prophets and a star led others to Him. This man before them was from the line of David and performed miracles. He said He was one with the Father, then was killed but also brought back to life.
Is there ANY other Jewish man in history that could even come close? From the eyes of the Hebrew Scriptures, and knowing that God keeps His word, the Jewish disciples asked an obvious question, “Lord, is now the time to you are restoring the Kingdom to Israel?”
Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “No. You got it all wrong”. Instead, He says, “don’t worry about the time the Father has set…”. Jesus affirmed their belief in His literal Kingship and authority, while letting them know there are other things to do first.
The Great Promise
Picture this: Christians and Jews unite under an everlasting, kind, and merciful Jewish King. He provides forgiveness of sins AND a literal peace and security for Israel. He sits on David’s throne, in the land where God made a covenant with Abraham.
Wow, what an image! A true fulfillment of promise.
In this season, as we remember the birth of the King of the Jews, let us not forget why He came. The King is coming for His people and His rightful throne.