Hello, I was watching a video debate between a Rabbi and a Pastor recently, where the Rabbi stated Jesus could not be the Messiah because no man can die for another man's sins. There is also a article on why Jesus could not be the Messiah, I was wondering if you could help me a bit here and comment on these claims? Thank you in advance. Here's the article; http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html?mobile=yes
There is a sense (but only a sense!) in which I agree with the Rabbi. Here is what I mean. From a human standpoint, it does NOT make sense that one individual can take the punishment for another person's offenses. This is not logical. So, I can understand why a Jewish teacher might be tempted to reject the gospel message of salvation on the basis of human logic.
However, human logic never has, nor will it ever determine what is true, and a Jew should know this. In Ezekiel 18 we have a detailed description of God's justice, and this description does not meet any standard of human common sense of logic. God's justice is not our justice. God decides what is true about himself, not us. Besides, there is an even greater reason to reject this Rabbi's position. There is solid evidence in the Old Testament that what is not logical to us (that the suffering of one should bring about salvation for another) is logical in God's system. For example, there is Isaiah 53. Actually the whole chapter expresses this idea, but let me focus on a couple of verses. First there is Isaiah 53:8. "For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished." Many Jews have traditionally considered this a messianic prophecy and for good reason. Even more clear is Isaiah 53:12 which says, "For he bore the sins of many, and made intersession for the transgressors." And then there is Isaiah 53:5 which is the clearest expression of all that proves the Rabbi wrong. "But he [the Messiah] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."
Just so you know, we at ARS put on a debate titled Judaism, Christianity, Islam: Which is the True Legacy of Abraham? In this debate, both Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Imam Shabir Ally took this same approach. Well, I agree that their challenge appears to be airtight logically, but it falls apart in light of the scripture.
For me, here is the bottom line. Jesus, who fulfilled ALL of the messianic prophecies; Jesus who lived a sinless life; Jesus who walked on water, created food to feed thousands, who calmed a storm at his word, and who raised Lazarus from the dead, told us that he gave his life for our salvation and that is good enough for me. This is the essence of his message at the Last Supper. No amount of human-based logic will defeat the reality of the life of Jesus, the means and the stated purpose of his death. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53, both in historical detail and in its implication with regard to our salvation.
As for the article at the web site you refer to, this web site is making a completely different argument to refute that Jesus is the Messiah. They say that he does not fulfill the messianic expectation. Here is a list of his examples of messianic prophecies not fulfilled by Jesus:
Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Specifically, the Bible says he will:
- Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
- Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
- Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
- Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
Here is my comment to this. Jesus did in fact fulfill ALL of these prophecies. What he did not do is fulfill them in the way that some Jews have misunderstood them. In other words, the Jews (but not all of them... the others have become Christians!) expect a Messiah who is a national saviour of the Jewish people. However, there are many dozens of Old Testament prophecies that annihilate this false idea of the Messiah. There are too many passages for me to go to each of them here, but let me take a couple of them as examples. First of all, Jesus Christ and the Church established by him certainly does fulfill Isaiah 2:1-4. He did create a mountain which is exalted above all mountains. In fact, many people have come to that mountain, and to the spiritual temple that Jesus has created, which is his body and his church. In Christ, all nations turn their swords into plowshares and no longer train for war. He may not have fulfilled it according to a false understanding of some Jews but the simplest reading of Isaiah 2:1-4 through New Testament eyes tells us that Jesus has fulfilled this prophecy..Jesus does fulfill Isaiah 32:15-18 and 60:5-18 in giving us the Holy Spirit and giving us peace in the Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus is the prince of peace. In the Church, Jesus fulfills Hoseah 2:23, "I will show my love the the one I called, "Not my loved one." I will say to those called "Not my people" You are my people. This is most certainly fulfilled in the Church. In fact, the entire book of Hosea is an allegory of what God did through Jesus.
As for Zechariah 14:9, Jesus is the king of the whole earth referred to in this passage. His kingdom is not of this world, but he was crowned king, sarcastically, by Pilate, and he is now reigning as king in heaven. A very simple and basic reading of the New Testament will inform one that Jesus has fulfilled this prophecy (unless one is to claim that Jesus did not work miracles and that he was not raised from the dead, and that he was a liar).
If there ever was a passage rather obviously fulfilled by Jesus it is Jeremiah 31:33-34. He did create a new covenant, but it is one with those, not who were born as a child of God, but who all know him. In Christ, the Law is written on our hearts, not merely on scrolls, as it was for the Jews. There is clear indication here that God is producing a new people, and a new covenant (Jer 31:31). All of these prophecies are rather obviously fulfilled by Jesus according to his own words and according to his life. To simply state that he did not fulfill these prophecies does not make it true.
About Ezekiel 37:26-28, again, forgive me, but this is a rather obvious reference to Jesus, especially if we look at the context. It says that "my servant David will be king over them..." Jesus was a direct descendant of David, born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Jesus did indeed gather people from literally all nations into a new, spiritual kingdom. He made them into a nation in the new-born kingdom which is not a physical kingdom. Through Jesus, indeed, cleansing came for all the people. If we do not commit ourselves to a wooden interpretation of these scriptures--forcing them to imply a restored physical kingdom in Jerusalem, overseen by a physical king on a physical throne, then all of these passages are rather obviously fulfilled in Jesus. Besides, there are plenty of indications, including Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 37, that this is not a physical kingdom.
In the Church--in the aspect of God's kingdom known as the Church, Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 43:5-6, Isaiah 2:4 and Zechariah 14:9. Besides that, he also fulfilled Isaiah 53 to the "t" as well as Psalm 22:16-18, Daniel 9:24-25, Zechariah 11:12-13, Isaiah 9:1, Psalm 110 and a host of other messianic prophecies. This argument is a non-sequitur, unless we buy the presupposition that the Messiah must be a reigning national king, ruling from a physical throne in Jerusalem.
I hope this helps.