by Sean Finnegan
Why do we believe that Jesus is the Jewish messiah? What is our evidence? Taking a look at contemporary miracle workers like Honi the Circle Drawer and Hanina ben Dosa, Jesus of Nazareth stands out as an exceptional healer and exorcist. Taking our cue from ancient Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53, we can see how Jesus of Nazareth best fits the prophesied suffering servant. These two lines of inquiry intertwine in the historical Jesus to produce a compelling case that he really is the long-awaited Jewish messiah.
Isaiah 35: The prophet envisions a renewed world when the desert will bloom, the weak will find encouragement, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap, the mute will shout, and all will worship God joyfully.
Isaiah 61: God acts bringing good news to the afflicted, liberty to the captives, vengeance to the wicked, and comfort to all who mourn. His people will rebuild, serve as priests, and possess a double portion in the land. As the earth brings forth sprouts, so God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up.
Other miracle workers: Honi the Circle Drawer (1st century bc), Hanina ben Dosa (1st century ad)
Isaiah 53: He will not have a majestic appearance, but he will be despised, forsaken, acquainted with grief. He will bear our griefs and sorrows, be pierced through for our transgressions, be crushed for our iniquities. By his scourging we are healed. Oppressed and afflicted, he remained silent. He was cut off yet found his grave with the rich; thereby, he interceded for transgressors and justified the many.
Jewish sources that thought Isaiah 53 referred to the Messiah:
|Babylonian Talmud||ad 180|
|Targum Jonathan||ad 200|
|Midrash Ruth Rabbah||ad 850|
|Rabbi Moshe Maimonides||ad 1200|
|Zohar via Moses de León||ad 1290|
|Moshe Ibn Crispin||ad 1375|
Other leaders of messianic movements: Athronges (4 bc), Judah the Galilean (ad 6), the Samaritan Prophet (ad 36), Theudas (ad 45), the Egyptian Prophet (ad 58), Simon bar Giora (ad 69), Simon ben Kosiba (ad 132)
Who best fits the Kingdom age and suffering servant prophecies?