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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:418 (Apr 1948)
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

(Concluded from the January-March Number, 1948)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 61–83, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–23, respectively.}

The Work of Messiah

The expectancy of Messiah in regard to His coming and to His Person has, of course, a complement in the conception of His work. Especially do the Messianic hopes as to the nature of Messiah color the anticipation of His work. The degree of one determines the degree of the other. As Westcott has stated it, “A partial conception of Messiah’s work necessarily followed from a partial conception of His nature.”1

The Old Testament clearly prophesies the threefold work of Messiah—as Prophet (Deut 18:15), as Priest (Ps 110:4), and as King (Zech 9:9). Yet the hopes as to Messiah’s work assumed various forms among the Jews of our Lord’s time. These we want to examine now. First of all, “the expectation of the people in the time of Christ was directed to a great prophet who was absolutely called ho prophētēs (John 6:14).”2 It is not clear what relation the prophet sustained to the Messiah. In John 1:25 a distinction is made between the two by the priests and Levites who came to John the Baptist at Jordan. “And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” Cf. John 7:40–42. The distinction seems to be sustained in Matthew 21:8–11, the account of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. There we see

that multitudes along the way acclaimed Him as the Messiah, “the son of David.” Yet when Jerusalem is reached we read that “all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?” We would naturally expect the reply, “Why, this is our Messiah, for whom we have been looking.” But contrary to this comes the actual reply, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” On the road to Jerusalem He is the accepted Messiah; in Jerusalem He is merely “the prophet of Nazareth.” Why the change? Luke 19:11 seems to indicate the reason. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a...

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