Was Jesus Born as the Messiah, the Son of God?
Two big questions are commonly asked about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Was he really born, a real person, and is Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah? Answers to the questions involve logic and the U.S. legal Doctrine of Chances.
Straightforward logic can answer the question about the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Regardless if he is the Messiah, the likelihood that calendars were changed based on someone who never existed is a very difficult concept to believe.
A personage named Jesus divided world history into two eras – before his life and after his life. No one else has been so influential as to change calendars making Jesus the most impactful figure in history. The modern-day effort to change “BC” and “AD” to “BCE” and “CE” designations are still based on the fact the calendar change occurred at the same point in time as the life of Jesus.
Setting aside logic, 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 Jewish Encyclopedia in its article “Jesus of Nazareth” states that Jesus is a real historical figure, even pinpointing a date of his birth. The miraculous conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus are also recognized by the Quran.
Addressing the question if Jesus is the Messiah, while ultimately this is a personal decision, there is much to consider. Circumstantially, 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 with Christianity going on to become the largest religion in the world, over 2 billion people today.
Caesar Augustus as the ruling Emperor of Rome; King Herod as the head of the Judean government; Quirinius, Procurator Pilate and Archelaus, son of King Herod – all these historical figures are referenced in the Gospels consistent with secular history. As such, it raises the bar of Gospel answerability and credibility to the highest degree.
Mary gave birth to Jesus in a totally unexpected, unplanned location in Bethlehem 90 miles away instead of Nazareth. The angel who appeared independently months apart to Mary and Joseph didn’t tell either of them to go to Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary planned to stay in Nazareth for the birth of their baby surrounded by family and friends.
A Roman Caesar’s decree forced the location change of the birthplace of Jesus. Augustus’ official decree in Nazareth compelled Joseph and Mary in her late-stage of pregnancy to abruptly make the days-long trek to Bethlehem where she went into labor.
Months in the making by the Roman government, announcement in Nazareth of Caesar’s decree more than a week earlier or a week later would have resulted in Jesus being born in Nazareth. Had Jesus been born in there, it would have completely eliminated the potential fulfillment of Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy.
Hundreds of miles away from Nazareth and Rome, Magi made 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 Messiah prophecy.
Multiple rare planet and star conjunctions occurred in an unusually brief period of time shortly before the birth of Jesus, seconds in astronomical time. Typically these close conjunctions occur centuries or millennia apart; however, all occurred over the course of only months. NASA astronomy science and technology confirms it all happened, 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 the ruthless King Herod in Jerusalem for assistance in finding the newborn King signaled by “His star.”
Herod consulted his Jewish religious council who told the King about the Micah 5:2 (1) prophecy foretelling the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. The King indicated he believed the prophecy had been fulfilled evidenced by pointing the Magi to Bethlehem to find the babe in exchange for telling him the exact location of the newborn.
Messiah prophecies that may have been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth originate in the Scriptures, the Tenakh or the Old Testament. Christianity accepts prophecies about the Messiah, such as the Branch prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah; the Psalms; the crucifixion and the Resurrection.
Judaism does not unanimously recognize some of these prophecies as pertaining to the Messiah. Two of the most renowned Jewish sages are Rabbi Rashi and Rabbi Maimonides, each with differing views on some Messiah prophecies.
One Messiah prophecy; however, is virtually undisputed by Jews or Christians – the Messiah would be born in the lineage of King David. Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was a royal heir to David, a fact not a disputed by Judaism.
Isaiah 52-53 describes the circumstances of the torture and death of “My Servant” consistent with a Roman crucifixion that was developed hundreds of years later. Isaiah also described the Servant’s burial among the rich and a life after death, all described in the Gospels involving the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Psalms contains varied messianic views by Judaism and Christianity. For example, Psalms 22 closely mirroring a crucifixion is not recognized as a Messiah prophecy by Judaism. On the other hand, Psalms 118 is included in the traditional Jewish Hallel about the Messiah.
Zechariah 12:10 foretells someone from the lineage of the House of David would be thrust through or pierced, killing him. His death would cause morning as deep as for an only son. A faction of Rabbis in the Talmud’s Succah 52a including Rashi believed it to be Messianic, consistent with the view of Christianity.
Assessing all the circumstances involving the life of Jesus of Nazareth obviously has a direct impact on believability. 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?
Updated October 26, 2022.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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