What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect? -- By: Cullen I. K. Story

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:416 (Oct 1947)
Article: What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect?
Author: Cullen I. K. Story

What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect?

Cullen I. K. Story

The subject of Messianic expectancy at the time of Christ is obviously an immense one. Many volumes from the pens of worthy men have been written on the subject. The New Testament, especially the Gospels, is replete with information regarding it. There we find various conceptions of Messiah faithfully reproduced by Spirit-guided writers. The writings of these men, of course, gather around the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, indeed, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament; but there is varying speculation among the Jews of our Lord’s time concerning that fact. Does our Lord answer to the prophetic portrayal of Messiah, and are the Messianic hopes of the people realized in Him? The answer is both affirmative and negative. On the one hand there is joyful anticipation of Him, on the other hand there is national rejection of Him. He is acknowledged by some as the long-expected Deliverer of Israel. And yet when He, the accepted One, is rejected—when He, the Deliverer, is Himself delivered up into the hands of sinful men and crucified—the voices that were quick to acclaim Him as Messiah are silenced for a while and the hopes of many seem to be cruelly disappointed.

One has only to turn to the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John to find, in the appraisal of Christ there, ample illustration of the manifold Jewish conception of Messiah: “He is a good man”; “Nay, but he deceiveth the people”; “Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is”; “When Christ cometh, will he

do more miracles than these which this man hath done”; “Of a truth this is the Prophet”; “This is the Christ”; “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?”; “Never man spake like this man.”

The very greatness of the subject speaks for its importance. An understanding of the Jewish Messianic perception will enable us to perceive, first of all, the interpretations that they hold of the Old Testament Scriptures. It will help us also to understand the great controversies that the Jews had with Christ; and it will indicate the reasons for His rejection, humiliation, and crucifixion. Of special importance for men today is the Messianic apprehension of those who lived closest to the Lord, namely, the disciples. Dr. Mason in his Cambridge Theological Essays is quoted by G. S. Streatfield as saying: “Much as we may learn of Christ from the experience of two thousand years, from the experience of our own time, our knowledge of Him rests ultimately upon the evidence of those who saw Him. If our present conceptions of Him are not the...

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