Y'shua - who do you say he is?

by Jews for Jesus

"Most portrayers of the life of Jesus neglect to point out that Jesus is in every characteristic a genuinely Jewish character, that a man like him could have grown only in the soil of Judaism, only there and nowhere else. Jesus is a genuine Jewish personality, all his struggles and works, his bearing and feeling, his speech and silence, bear the stamp of a Jewish style, the mark of Jewish idealism, of the best that was and is in Judaism, but which then existed only in Judaism. He was a Jew among Jews; from no other people could a man like him have come forth, and in no other people could a man like him work; in no other people could he have found the apostles who believed in him."  - Rabbi Leo Baeck.

The New Testament tells of wise men who came from afar to Jerusalem, inquiring of King Herod, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." Herod asked the more-knowledgeable religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born and learned that the place had been predicted by the prophet Micah , hundreds of years earlier: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel." Herod was unsuccessful in trying to eliminate his competition for the throne for he was unable to snuff out that baby who was born in Bethlehem to a young Jewish girl named Miriam (Mary). And from the moment of his birth, to his circumcision to his pidyon ha ben ceremony to his bar mitzvah to his d'roshes in the synagogues and even to his final epitaph, a sign over his head on the instrument of his execution, "Jesus Of Nazareth, The King Of The Jews," this one called Y'shua was identified with the Jewish people...

Some have said that Jesus was indeed a good Jew, an observant Jew, perhaps even a prophet of our people, but he never claimed to be the Messiah. Some say the notion that he was a savior, a mediator between the people and God, was put forth by his followers. Nevertheless, what did Jesus say about himself? One time when he was traveling with his disciples, he asked them, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

Once when he was traveling alone, he encountered a Samaritan woman at Sychar. In that encounter with Jesus she said to him, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." If Jesus (Y'shua) was not the Messiah as he claimed, he was certainly the most arrogant and blasphemous rabbi of all history. If he was not "the Messiah, the Son of the living God," as he claimed to be, he deserved worse than crucifixion. So how is it that so many people believed his claims and followed him?  

What Impressed His Hearers? Y'shua spoke with authority! Jewish sages taught by quoting opinions of other rabbis. One might say, "Rabbi Shammai says thus and so, but Rabbi Hillel said otherwise." Then the rabbi, who would be postulating, would indicate which authority, in his opinion, should be given more weight. Y'shua didn't present the "many different sides" to the question. He spoke to each issue directly and authoritatively. When asked by the religious leaders of his day, "Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" Jesus replied, "...Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," they said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" In that staggering statement, Jesus not only established that his existence preceded the birth of Abraham, but by the construction of the language, he announced his deity. When Jesus spoke, people had to listen. They might not have liked what he said, but they could not take their attention elsewhere. He was impossible to ignore.

Y'shua had the power to perform miracles. Miracle workers were not unusual in first-century Judea. There were sorcerers and soothsayers and healers. Some used trickery. Others consorted with familiar spirits, using incantations, amulets and potions to accomplish their feats of magic. Unlike Jesus, they did not heal in their own power. At times Jesus simply asked the question, "Do you want to be healed?" or "Do you believe?" Unlike the prophets before him, he was not merely the agent used by God; he claimed the power of God for himself in working His miracles. Jesus' power was such that he did not even have to be physically present with people in order to heal them. Perhaps most amazing of all Y'shua's miracles was his ability to raise a person from the dead. It was a common belief that when the Messiah came he would resurrect all the dead. When Jesus called Lazarus forth from the moldering grave, it was an unprecedented act of God.

Y'shua loved people! Y'shua, unlike many other leaders of his day, showed a profound love, abounding forgiveness and compassion for all kinds of people. The only people who were not touched by that love were those who did not want it. Although completely innocent, He was willing to be tried, convicted and crucified for the sins of the people he came for. By all accounts, Y'shua did not fight for his life or even seek to defend himself legally--though he had the grounds to do so. Yet he made a different choice. Just as a sheep who is brought to the slaughter does not complain--so Y'shua did not open his mouth to utter one word of protest. He knew he was destined to rule but he also knew he was destined to die first. No one ever died like Y'shua died and no one ever accomplished so much with his death.His death was not the end, but the beginning. The World Has Been Changed By His Coming. Most of us live by a calendar that measures time in the number of years before Y'shua walked the earth and the number of years since. This in itself is evidence of his profound impact on our world. Y'shua taught compassion for the suffering. Grace and forgiveness and yet his righteousness was never compromised. That is why people loved him, and still love him today.continue reading - In His Name...

In Y'shua's name... Not all who said that they were Christians behaved according to Y'shua's example. He taught love, humility and the dignity of all people. When you find hatred, prejudice and intolerance in the name of Jesus, you find a failure to follow the one whose name is being used. Any Christians who show a lack of compassion are ignoring--even countermanding--the example of Christ. If Jesus had merely lived and died, the world would not have been forever altered by his coming. But his resurrection puts Jesus on the scene of every episode of history. His observable life after the crucifixion has made Jesus the most powerful and influential person who ever lived, because he still lives. And the fact that he still lives and desires to change people's lives is wonderful to those who want what he offers and an offense to those who do not. Detractors dwell on deeds of "name only" Christians or the deeds of Christians gone astray, rather than dealing with the person of Y'shua, even when confronted with the fact that the two are separate. After all, Judaism is not made invalid by the deeds of those Jewish people who violate any of the 613 precepts of the law. In the same way, those people who take Jesus seriously and try to live by his teaching are a minority. Why is it that the majority of people, Jews and Gentiles, don't want to hear about Y'shua? The irony is that, as the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." When Jesus walked the earth, some of the rabbis and leadership of his day did follow him, but it took tremendous courage for them to go against the tide. Some of the wealthier people who had position and power were able to see past their riches to the spiritual poverty that Jesus came to alleviate. But those who avoided or despised him felt they didn't need his love or his compassion for they saw themselves as self-sufficient. They didn't understand why Jesus kept company with people who were beneath their contempt. And they seemed to reason that, if Jesus was as noble as they were, he would distance himself from the dregs of society.

The Apparency of it all: Jesus is as patient and loving as he ever was. He does not restrict his grace to those who are well-educated and highly employable. He does not reserve mercy for the politically correct and well-connected. He is interested in giving hope to the oppressed and the oppressors' to the haves and have-nots alike. Jesus is also as mysterious as he ever was. Those who have accepted his love and forgiveness and have committed their lives to him, can't quite explain the quality of their spiritual life to those who have not yet experienced the new birth. One can catch glimpses of the nature of Jesus in the lives of those who know him best. They continue to be motivated by his person and moved by his power. Yet still he's unseen, unknown and unheard except by those who have an ear to hear and a heart to understand. Who do you say He is?

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