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What proof do you have that Jesus was the Messiah?

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Last Updated on September 18, 2013 It is important to begin by saying that for one who has already made up his or her mind that Jesus is not the Messiah, no amount of evidence will be convincing. But for those who are honest in asking, the evidence speaks for itself. When sincerely asked, this question is a good one. After all, there have been false Messiahs in Jewish history. Among the most prominent were Bar Kochba and Shabbetai Zevi. Bar Kochba led a revolt against Rome in the years 132-135 C.E. During this revolt, one of the most famous figures in Jewish history, Rabbi Akiva, proclaimed him to be "King Messiah." Unfortunately, Bar Kochba, Akiva and thousands of Jews were killed in 135 C.E. when the Romans stormed the stronghold of Betar. Shabbetai Zevi, on the other hand, was a self-proclaimed Messiah. Flourishing in 17th-century Europe, the Shabbatean movement spread among both the common people and the rabbis. But when Shabbetai Zevi was arrested in 1666 by the Sultan of Turkey, he converted to Islam rather than face death. We have been tragically wrong before, so it is not surprising that hard evidence should be sought for believing in Jesus. The idea of a Messiah is one that is found throughout the Hebrew Bible. There, the Messiah's "I.D." is given to us. Imagine looking up a friend by first locating his country. That would not be enough information, so you would need to ascertain his city, street, and specific number on that street. It would also help if you had a phone number and knew the time at which he would be home. Similarly, the Bible tells us the "I.D." of the Messiah. His ethnic background, place of birth, time frame of his arrival and other identifying characteristics are given. These "credentials" enable us to identify the Messiah, and to recognize imposters. Of course it might be objected that if these "credentials" are so clear, why didn't most Jewish people believe in Jesus, and why were they so taken in by false Messiahs like Bar Kochba and Shabbetai Zevi? To understand this, one must realize that by the time of Jesus, the Messianic hope had become greatly politicized in the minds of the people. They were seeking deliverance from the tyranny of Rome. Although the Scripture spoke both of the sufferings and of the victories of the Messiah, the victorious aspect had become uppermost in the minds of the common people because of the Roman domination. This "lopsided" view of the Messiah has stuck with Jewish people, and the politicization of the Messianic hope has continued. Thus the hope of a political rather than a spiritual Messiah contributes to both the acceptance of people such as Bar Kochba, and the rejection of Jesus in his role as a Messiah. This is not to say that all Jewish people rejected the claims of Jesus. Far from that being the case, all the first followers of Jesus were Jews. In fact, the rabbis of that time period and afterwards were well aware of the many Messianic prophecies which Christians claimed were fulfilled in Jesus. So for instance, although the Talmudic rabbis concurred that Isaiah 53 was a prediction of the Messiah, by medieval times the pressure from those who applied this prophecy to Jesus was so great that Rashi, that greatest medieval Biblical scholar, reinterpreted the chapter and said it referred to the nation of Israel. This interpretation is maintained today by many Jewish scholars, though it only dates back to the Middle Ages. What, then, are some of the credentials of the Messiah? Only a few can be listed below; there are many others. All of these passages were recognized by the early rabbis as referring to the Messiah: Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem: [Micah 5:2]([Micah 5:1] in Hebrew Bible) Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah: [Genesis 49:10] Messiah would present himself by riding on an ass: [Zechariah 9:9] Messiah would be tortured to death: Psalm 22 Messiah would arrive before the destruction of the Second Temple: [Daniel 9:24-27] Messiah's life would match a particular description, including suffering, silence at his arrest and trial, death and burial in a rich man's tomb, and resurrection: [Isaiah 52:13-53:12] In detail as to lineage, birthplace, time, and lifestyle, Jesus matched the Messianic expectations of the Hebrew Scriptures. The record of this fulfillment is to be found in the pages of the New Testament. But several other factors combine to further substantiate the Messiahship of Jesus. In the first place, he claimed to be the Messiah! When a woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming." he replied, "I who speak to you am he."1 Naturally, that doesn't prove anything one way or the other. But if Jesus had never made the claim to be the Messiah, why would we bother to try and prove that he was? His own claim lays the groundwork for the rest of the evidence. Also, Jesus' life is in sharp contrast to that of the false Messiahs, and it is a positive demonstration of what we would expect the Messiah to do. Thus, Jesus worked many miracles of healing, bringing wholeness into people's lives, forgiving sin and restoring relationships. In contrast with Shabbetai Zevi, for instance, Jesus carried out the Law of Moses as a devout Jew. And in contrast with Bar Kochba, although Jesus also died, he was resurrected! The resurrection is a third piece of additional evidence, and it is perhaps the most convincing vindication of Jesus' claims. It is interesting that an Israeli scholar, Pinchas Lapide, has written a book which has attracted no small amount of attention in the Jewish community. The reason is that Lapide has said that the resurrection of Jesus is well within the realm of possibility. After all, he reasoned, the Hebrew Scriptures give a number of accounts of people coming back to life. Why not Jesus as well? Regrettably, Lapide fails to note that the resurrection of Jesus is described in terms that go far beyond the resucitations of the other stories; and, he fails to come to grips with the fact that Jesus predicted his own resurrection, which vindicated his claims to Messiahship. An assortment of explanations has been offered throughout history to explain away the resurrection as either non-historical ("It never happened.") or as non-supernatural ("Here's how it happened."). But these explanations have not been successful. Run down the possibilities for yourself and see which makes the best sense. Did the Roman authorities steal the body of Jesus from the tomb? Then why didn't they produce it when the word started being spread that Jesus was risen? Or maybe the disciples stole it. But could such a fabrication on their part account for the change in their attitude? Three days earlier they were disillusioned, defeated idealists who had hoped that Jesus would bring in a new world order; could a lie which they knew to be a lie, now account for their hope, their boldness in the face of official persecution, and for the high ethical standards they set? Or perhaps Jesus never died: he just fainted on the cross and revived in the tomb. This idea was popularized in the book The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield. Unfortunately the author overlooked the fact that the Romans pierced Jesus' side, which would have most certainly killed him. Also, there was a contingent of Roman soldiers guarding the tomb as well as a huge stone that blocked its entrance. There was no way that a resuscitated Jesus could have escaped and then convinced hundreds of skeptical eyewitnesses that he had conquered death forever! Or was it all a mass hallucination? It must have been quite a hallucination to be seen by vastly different kinds of people at different times of day in many different places. You might be able to fool one person, but can you fool five hundred who saw him at one time? And unlike the pattern of hallucinations, these appearances of the resurrected Jesus stopped as suddenly as they started, forty days after the resurrection took place. The only satisfactory explanation is that the resurrection actually occurred, just as the record says. And if that's the case, it's a solid reason for accepting the Messiahship of Jesus. Finally, Jesus transforms people's lives. Because he provides atonement for sin and reconciliation with God, Jesus brings peace, joy, and purpose into people's lives. Apart from faith in him, there is no basis for true peace or direction, for as the psalmist says, "Man is estranged from the womb." That this estrangement is healed by the reconciling ministry of Jesus is the common experience of those who believe in him. So, between the objective evidence of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and the subjective verification in our own lives--we think there's ample evidence that Jesus was who he claimed to be! * * * ENDNOTES 1 [John 4:25-26]

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1 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "On the contrary, Christianity has already decided that Jesus is the promised Messiah without looking to see if he fulfilled any of the qualifications that were explicit in the Hebrew scriptures. What exactly is a "Messiah"? Why does the world need a "Messiah"? To make a claim that Jesus is the Messiah yet the world is still a cesspool of hatred, sin, and despair means that the Messiah hasn't come. The Messiah's entire purpose is to transform the world from darkness to light so that all nations will recognize God. Since the time of Jesus, the exact opposite has happened. To a Jew, it makes no difference if the name of the Messiah is Jesus, Simon, Zachary or Tom. The name of the Messiah is irrelevant, only the end result in what he accomplishes. Since the entire world is in chaos, it's obvious the Messiah hasn't done his job. In fact, the concept of the second coming was born from Jesus' failure to accomplish the original mission his disciples thought he would accomplish.The Torah states that the Jewish people will know who the Messiah is when he accomplishes 3 things: 1. The Jewish Messiah will ingather the exiles of Israel and return them to the land. When Jesus lived, the entire Jewish nation was already living in the land of Israel. Why would God need a Messiah to gather those who are already gathered? 2. The Jewish Messiah will rebuild the Holy Temple and re-institute the sacrificial service as in the first temple. Why would God send a Messiah when the Temple was standing and the sacrificial services were fully operational? 3. The Jewish Messiah will convince the world to lay down their weapons of war and usher in an era of peace for all humanity. Has this happened yet? To a knowledgeable Jew there is not a sliver of doubt that Jesus did not fit the description of the Jewish MessiahChristianity believes that the Jewish people are correct about the scriptures, the Commandments, the rituals, the sacrifices, the Temple, and virtually every other aspect of the Hebrew Scriptures except the most important part, the nature of the God we worship. In order to be a Christian, one must believe that the same people that wrote the bible, translated the bible, and are the direct living descendants of the people in the Bible, forgot who and what they worship. Zechariah 8:23 - This is what the Lord Almighty says: In those days [The Messianic Era] ten men from all languages and nations [Gentiles] will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe [Tzitzit] and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' Jeremiah 16:19 - O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the [Gentile] nations come from the ends of the earth and say: Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless beliefs in which there is no profit. The question that Christians should be asking themselves are; why will Gentiles seek out the Jews in the end of days and ask Jews to teach them about God? If Christianity possesses the “truth” shouldn’t the passage read that Jews will seek out Christians instead? Second, what “lies and falsehoods” have the Gentile nations inherited from their ancestors? It is not the Jews who have inherited the falsehood, but the Christian nations that worship man as God. This is the falsehood that Jeremiah speaks about and why Zechariah prophecies that ultimately all nations will flock to the Jews to learn about the true God of Israel in the end of days."
2 Sarah R = "In reference to the comments below, the first Christians (and Jesus Himself) were all Jewish. They came to believe in Jesus Christ because His words, actions, and finally death and resurrection were fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures and the prophecies they had been taught. Our belief as Christians is based on the Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament writings, written by Jewish people who believed in God and were witnesses of God's work, culminating in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. John 1:40-42, 44-45 "40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus." ... 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”"
3 Sarah R = "Mine: This article is written by Jews for Jesus, an organization of Jewish (by heritage and faith) men and women who have come to see Jesus, or Yeshua, as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians refer to as the Old Testament). The Messianic Jewish Alliance is another group of Jewish people who have come to see Jesus as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, and they have this to say:Article: FIRST CENTURY BELIEVERS IN YESHUATwo thousand years ago Yeshua was a Jew living among Jewish people. "Yeshua," by which Jesus was called during his time on earth, is itself a Hebrew word for "Salvation." Yeshua kept Torah, or the Law of Moses. He studied the Jewish Scriptures that many now know as the "Old Testament," and read them aloud at the local synagogue on Shabbat (Luke 4:16). He was called rabbi (Teacher/Master) by his followers.Yeshua Matthew 5:17"Think not that I came to abolish the law and the prophets: I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them."After His death and resurrection, His following increased. From the book of Acts and other historical evidence, many believe that in the first century A.D. hundreds of thousands of Jews followed His teachings (Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 6:7, 9:31, 21:20), and established Messianic Synagogues throughout the Roman Empire and beyond (James 1:1, 2:2).One of the first debates these early disciples faced seems ironic to us now: Could non-Jews participate in the community of Yeshua's followers without becoming Jews? At the very birth of Judaism, God had told Abraham that He would bless all nations of the earth through Abraham's offspring (Genesis 12.3). Accordingly, the apostolic council in Acts 15 decided that non-Jews could follow Yeshua without converting to Judaism.Many factors intervened in the following years. Believers in Yeshua suffered increased opposition from both Roman authorities and Jewish synagogue leaders. As more and more Gentiles came to accept this faith and as the original Jewish apostles passed away, the Jewishness of that first-century faith was gradually lost.- See the rest of this article at the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America website, here: http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=rd_messianicmovement_messianic_judaism"
4 Sarah R = "See also: https://www.deily.org/text/old-testament-prophecies-fulfilled-by-jesus-christ?expl_id=54e647031540966df2f511d7"
5 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "Isaiah 53 talks about the "suffering servant" who is identified in Isaiah Chapters 41 through 49 as the nation of Israel. Isaiah didn't write a chapter, he wrote a book. To ignore the dozen times that Isaiah says "Israel is the servant of the Lord" and ascribe this one chapter to Jesus whose name is not even mentioned a single time in the entire Jewish scriptures (or Isaiah) is dishonest. The name Israel is mentioned as both God's suffering "servant" and his "firstborn son" multiple times throughout the Hebrew scriptures. Isaiah is describing the suffering, metaphorical death and resurrection of the nation of Israel which has been witnessed in our lifetime.https://www.deily.org/commentary/the-truth-of-isaiah-53"
6 Sarah R = "Quotes from Jewish writers who interpreted Isaiah 52-53 as a prophecy of the coming Messiah:“This rabbi described those who interpret Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel as those "having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the `stubbornness of their own hearts,' and of their own opinion," I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah. This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and deliver Israel, and his life from the day when he arrives at discretion until his advent as a redeemer, in order that if anyone should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here; if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so.” Rabbi Moshe Kohen Ibn Crispin"Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" * Zech xii 10 (Suk. 52a)"The Holy One gave Messiah the opportunity to save souls but to be severely chastised: and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as is written, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted." And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks mercy upon them, as it is written, "By his stripes we were healed," and "He carried the sins of many and made intercession for the trangressors.""* (Bereshith Rabbah, Rabbi Moshe Hadershan)"the word 'man' in the passage refers to the Messiah, the son of David as it is written, "Behold the man whose name is Zemah"; there Jonathan interprets, Behold the man Messiah; as it is said "a man of pains and known to sickness." * (Midrash Thanhumi, Rabbi Nahman)Rabbinical Elijah the prophet quote: "Bear the suffering and punishment of thy Lord, with which he chastises thee for the sins of Israel, as it is written, 'He is pressed for our rebellion--crushed for our iniquities' until the end come." * (Midrash Cohen, BhM, 2:29)The Talmud explains: "The Messiah---what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses."* (Sanhedrin 98b)"It is because of this future ordeal that David (prophetically) wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd [Psalms 22:7]. At this hour, G-d will say to Him, Ephraim, My Righteous Messiah, didst Thou not agree before the creation to this? Now let Your sorrows be as My own sorrows.... At that Messiah answers, Now is My Spirit calmed for 'It is enough for a servant to be like master.'"** (Pesikta Rabbati Piska 36:142/Yalkut on Isaiah 60:1-2)"Then He [My Servant Messiah] will become despised, and will cut off the glory of all the Kingdoms; they will be prostrate and mourning, like a man of pains, and like One destined for sickness; and as though the Presence of the Shekinah had been withdrawn from us, they will be despised, and esteemed not." ** (Targum Jonathan Isaiah 53:3)"And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, "By His stripes we were healed, and He carried the sins of many; and made intercession for the transgressors."** (B'reshith Rabbah)A late 10th century commentary of Isaiah 53 reads:"As for myself, I am inclined with Benjamin of Nehavend, to regard it as alluding to the Messiah ... In the first instance that the Messiah will only reach his highest degree of honor after long and severe trials; and secondly, that these trials will be sent upon him as a kind of sign, so that, if he finds himself under the yoke of misfortunes while remaining pious in his actions, he may know that he is the designated one." *(Yepheth ben All)*- Sources: http://www.lightofmashiach.org/isaiah53.htmlhttp://www.lightofmashiach.org/rabbi.htmlhttp://www.hadavar.org/critical-issues/messianic-prophecy/the-prophets/isaiah-52-53-messiahs-first-coming/rabbinic-support/http://www.gotquestions.org/suffering-servant-Isaiah-53.htmlSee also: Why Israel cannot be the suffering servant at http://www.chaim.org/nation.htm"
7 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "It's very easy to pull selected quotes from Jewish scholars out of context but the real proof is in how these same sages lived their lives. Each one of the Rabbis you quote, without exception, unequivocally rejected the idea that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews. Not a single one of the Rabbis who discuss Isaiah 53 ever accepted Jesus as savior, lord or anything more than a heretic. Using quotes to prove Jesus as Messiah from the same people that utterly reject Jesus' kingship is very dishonest. Christian missionary tactics are to regurgitate quotes from Midrash or Talmud (which Christianity rejects as Jewish doctrine) and then use the same books they believe are false to prove existence of the supposed Messiah. Do these same Christian missionaries read the next passages in Midrash and Talmud that say they need to observe the Sabbath, keep the laws of Kashrut or wear Tallit and Tefillin? Of course not. Jews for Jesus has been labeled a cult by both Jewish and Christian organizations around the world and has been overtly criticized for their underhanded and dishonest tactics. A Jew can be for Jesus no more than a Catholic for Buddha, or Muslim for Krishna. These ideologies are incompatible and can never be reconciled."
8 Sarah R = "I found it interesting that there were/are so many Jewish Rabbis, many from ages ago, that do see the Isaiah 53 passage as prophecy about the Messiah. Here's an account of one of the very first Jewish Christians sharing his understanding of Isaiah 53:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,    so he did not open his mouth.33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.    Who can speak of his descendants?    For his life was taken from the earth.”34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.- Acts 8:26-38"
9 Sarah R = "See also this video on evidence for the resurrection:https://www.deily.org/video/the-case-for-the-resurrection-2"
10 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "https://www.deily.org/commentary/absence-of-proof-is-not-proof"
11 Sarah R = "This is huge. Personal testimonies from people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and changed their whole lives - been freed from drug/alcohol addiction, repaired a marriage, became a better parent, changed their ways. The Bible says we will know believers by the fruit they produce."
12 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "https://outreachjudaism.org/believing-in-jesus-changed-my-life/"
13 Sarah R = "There is definitely an euphoria when someone is new to faith. We call it a "mountain top experience," after Moses, who met with God on a mountain top. I liken it to falling in love. The emotions of it are amazing. But emotions don't last. In a relationship, what keeps it going is not the emotion of falling in love but moving to a steady, committed love built on knowing one another and trusting one another. In faith it is similar. As we get to know God as He has revealed Himself through the Hebrew Scriptures and through Jesus, God Himself come down in the form of a man, as we get to know His Word as revealed in the Bible, our euphoria transforms into a deeper trust and commitment. Those who never make this transition will likely fall away from faith or never have real lasting change in their lives. Jesus tells a parable about this in Matthew 13."