Was Jesus Born as the Messiah, the Son of God?
Two big questions often come to mind about the birth of Jesus, especially during the Christmas season … was Jesus really born and is Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah?
Simple logic, beyond what the Gospels say, can answer the first question. A personage named Jesus divided world history into two eras – before his life and after his life. That alone makes Jesus the most impactful figure in history. No one else has been so influential as to change calendars. Consider the likelihood this monumental change to historical dating was based on a fictitious figure. Logic dictates Jesus had to be a real historical person in order to change history.
Secular dating revisions have introduced “BCE” (Before the Common Era) to replace “BC” (Before Christ) or “CE” (Common Era) instead of “AD” (Anno Domini – year of our Lord). It is viewed by many as intended to exclude any reference to Christ or Lord. Nevertheless, the “BCE” and “CE” designations are still based on the fact that the calendar change occurred at the same point in time as the life of Jesus.
Religion archenemies of Christianity commonly agree on the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Jewish ancestral birth records and lineage of Jesus are undisputed by Judaism. The miraculous conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus are recognized by the Quran.
An entirely new religion was spawned by the teachings and events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth – Christianity. Something profound changed the official views of the Roman empire and became the largest religion in the world, today over 2 billion people.
Providing more specifics, Matthew and Luke raise the bar of answerability and credibility to the highest degree. Both Gospels reference the names of verifiable secular historical names which in turn establishes historical dating markers.
Caesar Augustus was the ruling Roman Emperor. King Herod was the head of the Judean government. Quirinius , Procurator Pilate and Archelaus, son of King Herod, are all well-documented historical ruler figures who are referenced in the two Gospels when Jesus was born.
Nazareth was the expected birth place of Jesus, not 90 miles away in Bethlehem. The angel who appeared separately to Joseph and Mary announcing Mary’s miraculous pregnancy didn’t tell either of them to go to Bethlehem, as such they should not be expected to think otherwise.
Only a decree by a Roman Caesar forced the location change of the birthplace of Jesus. Months in the making in Rome, timing of Augustus’ official decree compelled Joseph and Mary in her late-stage of pregnancy to abruptly make the days-long trek to Bethlehem where she went into labor. If the choice had been optional, Joseph and Mary would almost certainly have stayed in Nazareth to give birth at home surrounded by family and friends.
Announcement by the Town Crier of Caesar’s decree a week later or more than a week earlier and Jesus would have been born in Nazareth. Had Jesus been born in Nazareth, it would have completely eliminated the potential fulfillment of Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy.
Months earlier, hundreds of miles away from Nazareth and Rome, the Magi began making preparations to travel around the edges of the vast Arabian Desert on a month’s long journey to Judea to find the newborn King of Israel. These astronomy experts began their quest based on seeing “His Star,” not because of any Jewish Messiah prophecy.
Multiple rare planet and star conjunctions occurred in an unusually brief period of time beginning just months before the birth of Jesus. Typically these close conjunctions occur centuries or millennia apart; however, at this point in time, all seven conjunctions occurred over the course of only 18 months.
Last of these conjunctions partially overlapped on June 17, 2 BC, causing the appearance of an extremely rare, unusually brilliant, elongated star. NASA astronomy science and technology confirms all these rare conjunctions both in timing and close proximity.
When the Magi began their month’s long journey to Judea, their final destination was unclear. They sought out King Herod in Jerusalem for assistance in finding the newborn King signaled by “His star.”
In turn, Herod consulted his Jewish religious council who told the King about the Micah 5:2 prophecy foretelling the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. King Herod indicated that he believed the prophecy had been fulfilled when he pointed the Magi to Bethlehem to search for the babe in exchange for telling him the location of the newborn.
Looking beyond the birth circumstances for more indications that Jesus might be the Messiah involves other prophecies that matched later events during his lifetime. Further consideration has to be given to the chances the circumstances of the Messiah prophecies could be fulfilled today if not by Jesus 2000 years ago.
Messiah prophecies are the primary starting point originating in the Scriptures of Judaism, the Tenakh or, for Christianity, the Old Testament. Not all Messiah prophesies are unanimously recognized by Jewish religious authorities. Many Christianity viewpoints on Messiah prophecies are likewise disputed by Judaism.
One Messiah prophecy; however, is virtually undisputed – the Messiah would be born in the lineage of King David. Other potential Messiah prophecies involve the Branch, crucifixion and Resurrection.
Branch prophecies issued by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah are not universally considered by Judaism to be Messiah prophecies. Two of the most renowned Jewish sages are Rabbi Rashi and Rabbi Maimonides, each having differing views on some Messiah prophecies.
Maimonides viewed the Isaiah 53:5 and Zechariah 6:12 Branch prophecies as foretelling the Messiah. Rashi, on the other hand, viewed the same Isaiah and Zechariah Branch prophecies to be about Zerubbabel.
Crucifixion was a most horrible method of execution – a slow death designed to inflict prolonged maximum pain and humiliation. In Isaiah 52-53, the prophet not only described the circumstances of the torture and death of “My Servant,” Isaiah also described the Servant’s burial among the rich and a life after death. All closely mirror the Gospel’s description of the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Psalms contains Messiah prophecies recognized by Judaism, but not Psalms 22 which reflects very similar circumstances to a Roman crucifixion 1000 years later. Psalms 22 also includes both a quote and a specific gambling activity by those present at the scene – each precisely occurred during the crucifixion of Jesus according to the Gospels.
Zechariah 12:10 foretells that “Me” of the House of David will be thrust through or pierced, killing him. His death would cause morning as deep as for an only son. While Rashi believed this was a prophecy about Israel, he acknowledged it could be about the Messiah referencing the faction of Rabbis in the Talmud’s Succah 52a who believed it to be Messianic.
Assessing the validity of the Messiah prophecies and the possibility they were fulfillment by the life of Jesus obviously has a direct impact in determining the answer to the second question, was Jesus born as the Messiah? One option is to consider the manner of execution death of Jesus of Nazareth as merely a happenstance 3-fold coincidence with the centuries-old writings of Isaiah, Psalms and Zechariah. The other option is to accept that the three scenarios are indeed Messiah prophecies fulfilled by Jesus as part of a divine plan.
Confluence of the seemingly unconnected chain of events converging in Bethlehem when Jesus was born are, frankly, most remarkable. Contemplate the likelihood that independent events in Rome, the East, the phenomena in the sky and Nazareth all converged unexpectedly at a single point in time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The U.S. legal Doctrine of Chances suggests it was not an accident.
What are the odds that Jesus was born as the Son of God, the Messiah?
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