The following is the conclusion of chapter 10 of my upcoming book, a Messianic Jewish guide for disciples. In chapter 10 I deal with the problem of our belief, which can make us outcasts in the Jewish community, that Messiah is divine. I explain what our belief means, what views are inadequate, why this view is our strength rather than our weakness, and how it is a Jewish belief. Now at the conclusion of the chapter I am addressing its practical meaning for us. That God took up humanity and identified with us completely is not a mere fact of theology.
Our belief is certainly a scandal in Jewish circles. We have seen the reasons the belief originated. To deny the divinity of Messiah requires downplaying or finding alternative explanations of the evidence from the early believers. But rather than asking if the divinity of Messiah is a true belief or not, I will ask, “Is it worth believing in?”
My answer is that this truth about Messiah changes everything, and in the best way possible. Messiah brings God nearer, showing us the divine nature in a concrete manner. Messiah shows us a level of divine love even greater than we knew from Torah and the prophets. The fact of the Divine Messiah means that God himself got his hands dirty, identified with us, became one of us, and lifted us up from that place of being one of us. It means God has experienced death (which is not the same thing as saying God died).
God came near to us through the Patriarchs. He came nearer still at Sinai. He made his Presence among us felt in the Tabernacle and Temple. But something greater than Abraham, greater than Moses, and greater than the Temple was here in the person of Yeshua. God’s drawing near to us and making the way for us to be near to him has been intensifying and culminates in the joining of divinity and humanity in the person of Yeshua.
Ideas matter. The right kind of ideas make all the difference in the world. We are dealing with the fundamental meaning of being human, of being related to God and connected to him. If you find helpful insight here at MJ Musings, stay connected through our weekly email by signing up here. Want to study Torah and Gospel? Sign up for our daily readings and commentary here.
Prior to the unveiling of Messiah from heaven God’s lovingkindness was already known. Yet once the radical kindness of God was shown in Messiah, we knew it even more. Before Messiah we had God’s promises and his words of consolation. “Comfort and keep comforting my people,” he said to Israel in Isaiah 40. “Ephraim, how can I give you up, or surrender you, Israel?” he asked in Hosea 11. God’s forgiving, redeeming heart had already been shown in Torah and prophets.
But at the unveiling of Messiah’s glory we saw more deeply. God sent Messiah, whose nature is God’s, to show a supreme act of love for people alienated, corrupt, and childish. He saw our better nature, having been the one who made us. He did not hold our pretensions and cruelties against us. He said, “They don’t know what they are doing!” And so Messiah who is one with God died for the unrighteous. One would scarcely die for a righteous person, Paul says, but “God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8).
If we understand this about God, our anxieties that he is an exacting judge, a harsh Lord — all our dark thoughts about him — will be banished from our minds. We meet the real God in the person of Messiah.
We see that his essential stance toward us is kindhearted love. And our comprehension of his love will be more than a theory with room for us to continue doubting and shrinking from the terrors of heaven. The lingering doubts caused by religion, by the specter of our inadequacy, by the residue of some troubling verses in the Bible which could overthrow our confidence in being loved will be countered by the strongest of evidence. Against all such fears will be the image of God’s love which has already been proven beyond all doubt. He proved it in Messiah.
The divinity of Yeshua means that he shares God’s identity as the unique, transcendent One and Only. This is not a belief in two Gods, nor is it merely saying that Messiah is an aspect of God. He is one and the same as God while also being differentiated from him. He is with God and he is God. Both statements must coexist. We do not say God is Yeshua, as this gives the false impression that Yeshua is all there is to God. Searching for words to describe the unity of Yeshua with God is not easy.
But realizing that God and Messiah are one, we know we have seen God up close. It was the Divine Messiah, reflecting perfectly God’s attributes, who spread his arms out to receive the blows that healed us. It was God’s love shown to us on that quarry hill outside of Jerusalem. And it was God’s victory and promise shown to us in that empty tomb, in the appearance of the raised Yeshua, and in the visions of Messiah glorified again and appearing from heaven.