How Jewish is your Jesus?
Why all the fuss about Jesus?
“I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” (Albert Einstein)
If this admission is from an unbeliever who never acknowledged Jesus as Saviour, then how can those of us who do accept him as Lord, express ourselves adequately? The truth is that we can’t, he is just too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers. We can only scratch around in our limited human capacity and marvel at the fact that he actually cares about us and bothers with us.
He who set the planets in their orbit, who planted the trees, plotted the paths of the winds and programmed Adam’s DNA in that garden of paradise, is also the one who will return to a battered abused world and judge the billions of souls, most of them terrified and regretful. He is the bridge of the ages, present at the beginning, the end and at all points in-between. He created us, he teaches us, he redeems us. He provides a hope for the future and offers us help in tackling the present. He is the Man of Many Names, as well as the God of the Universe. He is the One.
My hope is that this series of articles has provided you with a rounded view of the Man of Many Names, not just the usual snapshots of his life and ministry in the first century. Thanks to the material provided by the Aramaic Targums, you will now appreciate how involved he was, as the Memra, at the time of Creation and how he personally intervened at key moments of Jewish history, in his guise of the Angel of the Lord.
JIt’s easy for us to blindly accept the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and say, ah yes, that speaks of Jesus, how can they have missed it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it should never breed complacency and arrogance. The fact is that it’s easier for us to look back through the lenses provided by 2000 years of Christian scholarship, than to live through those times, with their unique hardships and disadvantages, and come to the same conclusions. No-one knows their scriptures better than the Jews themselves, yet …they still get it wrong, despite their own 2000 year old cultural lenses. By spending time analyzing their objections to those prophecies that we say speak of Jesus, we have engaged in the key battles and, I believe, have gained new understandings of such signposts as Daniel’s 70 weeks and the Suffering Servant passages of Isaiah. If we can overcome the key objections of the Jewish scholars, then this can only feed our faith. Of course, as in every battle field, whether over the Hebrew Scriptures or with the atheists in the Creation/Evolution debate, there will always be clever people with clever ideas, who will tie you up in knots with their cleverness. The point is, that without the illumination in their heart provided by the Holy Spirit, they are never going to get it and would often fight tooth and nail to make sure that others are drawn into their arrogant views. All we can do is speak the truth with love and pray that the Lord will intervene. Hopefully, with the illumination provided by Jewish scholarship, you now have more tools in your armoury to fight the good fight, in terms of the authenticity of Jesus’ claim to be The Promised One.