Was Jesus "Just a Messiah?" (Matthew 26)
Jesus uses a number of divine titles for Himself in the New Testament, as we have seen in previous articles. Christian apologist Jay Smith provides an easy way to remember and present 3 of them in a single, powerful two-verse passage in the Gospel of Matthew.
The 3 titles are:
False witnesses were brought before the court who lied about what Jesus said, and the high priest challenged Jesus to respond (italics mine):
63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”
64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26
6 "For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9
More than 100 years later, YHWH spoke through another of His prophets:
and I saw One like a son of man
coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before Him.
14 He was given authority to rule,
and glory, and a kingdom;
so that those of every people,
nation, and language
should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away,
and His kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed." Daniel 7
Yet again, Jesus had taken an Old Testament prophecy about the Divine Messiah and applied it to Himself. "Son of Man" was His own personal favorite divine title for Himself, using it more than 75 times.
But if there is still any lingering doubt in your mind that Jesus was indeed making claims to deity, the response of the high priest and his fellow Jews to Jesus' words should erase them. They knew full well what He was saying:
65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy!
66 What is your decision?”
They answered, “He deserves death!”
Whether feigned or real, the high priest's reaction to the response was dramatic. The rending of his robe was indication enough of his horror and disgust at what he had just heard, but his words truly close the book on the issue. In the minds of the members of the kangaroo court around Him, Jesus had just blasphemed God by claiming divinity. And the penalty for blasphemy was death, as we see in Leviticus 24:16,
16 Whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh is to be put to death; the whole community must stone him. If he blasphemes the Name, he is to be put to death, whether the foreign resident or the native.
It may be a fitting epilogue to this article for us to note something else which was recorded for us by another Gospel writer. It is something which the high priest had said in the midst of plotting to kill Jesus (italics mine):
49 One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all!
50 You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
52 and not for the nation only, but also to unite the scattered children of God." John 11
Despite his unbelieving heart, Caiaphas was used of YHWH God (just as Balaam's donkey was, perhaps?) to prophesy what was to happen to Jesus the Messiah, and why.
God's mission for Messiah was just what Jesus had said it was:
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3
With thanks to Jay Smith for the great work he is doing in reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You bring great glory to our Lord through your ministry, Jay!
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