Is Jesus the Messiah? My Open-Letter Answer

A few weeks ago I received an email from a Jewish man who had hard questions about what Christians believe. His questions were excellent. His inquiries about Christianity boiled down to three questions.

Is Jesus the Messiah? My Open-Letter Answer

(Photo: Jews touching the Torah at the Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I’ve listed his questions here without changing his wording:

What I can never fathom is how you can honor and accept the ‘teachings’ of one called Paul—an apostate and traitor to his people—to be the truth.

• Is this Paul who wrote 13/27 books of the Greek New Testament any more authoritative than the great Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah or Amos?

• Are we to assume that G-d changed His Mind regarding His People and the Torah, and simply informed one solitary man about a new dispensation 100 years after the death of the man from Galilee?

• When Hashem [“The Name”] gave us the Torah, there were millions of witnesses to this earth-shaking event. It has become part of our collective spiritual DNA. How can a ‘new revelation’ be given with no witnesses to one individual who wrote in Greek things that are anathema and inimical to Jewish belief?

To me, these questions all boil down to one: Is Jesus the Messiah?

Here is my open-letter answer. Would you have answered differently?

(Note: I’ve changed his name to Jacob in order to keep his identity confidential.)

God Plan Hasn’t Changed

Jacob, I completely agree with you that God did not change His mind.

  • His promise for the Messiah was something Moses predicted, specifically that the seed of woman would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Moses predicted that a prophet like himself would rise and would receive authority from God—and all who would listen to this prophet would be blessed (Deut. 18:18-19).
  • Moses recorded God’s promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:1-3).
  • God’s covenant to David promised him that one from his house would sit on his throne over an eternal kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16).
  • Isaiah prophesied that God’s suffering servant would die to pay for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).
  • The great prophet Jeremiah revealed that the Lord would give a New Covenant to His people, one that would include the Law written on the heart—and one that would forgive sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

All of these promises God has remembered and honored. Rather than change His mind, instead, God has kept His promises.

Man reading Torah Scroll at Western Wall

(Photo: Man reading Torah Scroll at Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Paul Was One of Many Witnesses

Saul of Tarsus completely stood in your position. In fact, he so vigorously disagreed with Christianity’s premise that Yeshua was the Messiah that Saul persecuted Christians and had them arrested. What’s more, he stood in full agreement when a Christian named Stephen was stoned.

  • The turnaround came in Saul’s life when Yeshua appeared to him after his resurrection. Saul could no longer deny what he had been persecuting.
  • Saul/Paul was not the only witness to the resurrected man; Yeshua appeared to more than 500 at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). There were many witnesses.

Is Jesus the Messiah? Where Logic and Faith Meet

I’ve always found it amazing that the followers of Yeshua all fled and forsook him when he was arrested. And yet, for some reason, these same frightened men would go on to witness that Yeshua had been resurrected. What’s more, they would all willingly die a martyr’s death—something completely unlikely if what they had been proclaiming was a lie. They were convinced the resurrection was true and were willing to die for that.

Jacob, I’m not able to convince you through reason—and that’s perfectly fine.

  • I believe the dozens of Hebrew prophecies about the Messiah clearly were fulfilled in the life and death of the Man from Galilee.
  • If logic is a convincing argument, the mathematical probabilities of fulfilled prophecy point to the truth of what the New Testament proclaims.

Many, many times in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Lord fulfilled His Word in ways the Jews never expected—and in fact, rejected—but then came to understand.

Torah Scroll with pointer

(Photo: Torah Scroll with pointer. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But logic only goes so far, and when all the questions have been answered, the only step left to take is to believe—or to reject. Faith and belief have always been the sole basis of a Jew’s righteousness before God.

This was true:

  • of Abraham before the Law (Gen. 15:6)
  • of David during the Law (Ps. 32:1-2)
  • of anyone accepted by God (Habakkuk 2:4)

It’s One Continuous Story

Really, Christians don’t see the Hebrew Scriptures as obsolete—nor does the New Testament replace them.

We see one continuous story of promises made and fulfilled by a God who loves us and who provided one who would pay for our sins and come again one day to reign as King from Jerusalem.

Question: So, tell me—how would you have answered Jacob’s questions? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • djbigelow

    My lead in is similar. I like John’s litmus test of whether a person can say Jesus is the Christ. Of course, this is not mere parroting, but an understanding of the Messianic prophecies and what in them detail a description of the Messiah. Often the details emphasized are in reference to the details surrounding his birth, life, and death, which are all valid. But his person is often somehow overlooked. As a Jew, Paul had to grapple with that. When he said, Who are thou, Lord?, he was, at the time, committed to serving the Yahweh of the Old Testament, and so addressed him accordingly, seeking more understanding. That same Lord responded, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. Paul did not switch allegiance to a new Lord, he simply recognized that Jesus had answered his question as to his Lordship. This personal conversation with Yahweh confirmed Yahweh’s prophecy, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.”

    • These are some great thoughts. Nice additions. I’m sure that conversation with the risen Jesus, as well as the subsequent few days of blindness, had Paul’s whole world spinning. Thanks for your comments.

  • Thanks for this. I’ve often wondered how I would presume to answer such questions off the top of my head. I know that I would have to search for specific scripture, not that I don’t know what was said but would want to give chapter and verse (not great with memorization of exactness, but can readily find in my Bible). I find it curious that he focused in on Paul for his questions- the one schooled in scripture, who knew the prophecies well and would (should) be able to recognize that Jesus’ life lined up with every scripture regarding Messiah.

    • Sure, Nancy. You know, we all start with questions and his were excellent. Thanks for your comments.

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