In today’s episode, we will be talking about Yeshua as the human Messiah, the Son of God. You may recall from our last episode how I discussed the nature of Yahweh as the one true God, the Father, sole Creator and Maintainer of all that exists. He is the supreme authority of all people. He alone possesses inherent immortality, and has always existed.
When it comes to understanding who Yeshua is, we need to exercise care with a lot of time-honored Christian tradition that has built up over the centuries to see if we can peel back some of these layers of orthodoxy to reveal what the Bible actually says about this individual who has come to be known as Jesus Christ.
So let’s start with his name. In modern vernacular, Jesus Christ has come to be used as a sort of first and last name for Yeshua instead of what it really is, a title of who he is. His “name” literally means that he is God’s deliverer, the anointed one of God.
Jesus is the English version of the Greek name Iesous, which in itself is a version of the Hebrew name Yeshua. However, if we were to take the name Yeshua and bring it straight over into English, it would not be Jesus, but it would be Joshua. Now the name Yeshua in Hebrew is not only a personal identifier, but also carries the meaning behind the name. In this case, the name Yeshua means “salvation or deliverance of God.” In fact, there are occasions in the Hebrew text where the word is used for just that purpose, and not as a proper name of an individual.
For me, that carries great weight. It was the name that Mary and Joseph were commanded to name him, and I believe we should be using, as well. That name was given to him to demonstrate his purpose, and we should always keep the purpose that God has in mind. Yeshua is the deliverance of God.
What’s a Messiah?
Throughout Scripture, there is mention of Yeshua as the Messiah.
John 20:31 – But these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Acts 2:36 – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Acts 5:42 – Every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Yeshua is the Messiah.
Acts 9:22 – But Saul grew stronger and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Yeshua is the Messiah.
For us to have an understanding of this term, we need to look at some of the original Hebrew texts that use this phrase. The title of Messiah is based on the Hebrew mashiach, meaning anointed. In New Testament Greek, the word for anointed is christos, which is where we get the English derivative Christ.
To be anointed is to have oil of anointing, typically olive oil, smeared or poured over one’s head as an identifier of kingly leadership.
1 Samuel 10:1 – Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it out on Saul’s head, kissed him, and said, “Hasn’t Yahweh anointed you ruler over his inheritance?”
2 Kings 9:1-3 – The prophet Elisha called one of the sons of the prophets and said, “Tuck your mantle under your belt, take this flask of oil with you, and go to Ramoth-gilead. “When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Go in, get him away from his colleagues, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, ‘This is what Yahweh says: “I anoint you king over Israel.”‘…
The oil of anointing can also be an identifier of religious leadership. For example, the priests of the tabernacle were anointed for the purpose of separation unto God in the ministering of the sacrificial and intercessory rites:
Exodus 29:21 – “Take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle them on Aaron and his garments, as well as on his sons and their garments. So he and his garments will be holy, as well as his sons and their garments.
In a metaphorical or prophetic sense, to be anointed is also God’s stamp of approval as a human leader that he has selected for a specific purpose. This purpose can be a religious one, or as an acknowledgement of political empowerment. God’s anointed one can be anyone he has chosen for a specific leadership purpose, including a non-Jewish world leader like Cyrus:
Isaiah 45:1: “Thus saith Yahweh to his anointed [literally, his Messiah], to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;”
In the spiritual sense, the anointing carries with it the idea of being empowered by the Spirit of God himself, as if enveloped within or overcome by his Spirit.
Judges 6:34 – The Spirit of Yahweh enveloped Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him.
1 Samuel 10:10 – When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully on him, and he prophesied along with them.
1 Samuel 16:13 – So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [David] in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of Yahweh came powerfully on David from that day forward…
Of course, Yeshua is identified by John the baptizer as being the anointed one of God, immersed and enveloped with the Spirit of God.
John 1:31-34 – “I didn’t know him, but I came baptizing with water so he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on – he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Acts 10:37-38 – [Peter speaking] “You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: “how God anointed Yeshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him.
As can be seen, God’s anointed ones or messiahs have been numerous and characteristically fulfill a role as a priest (as an intercessor or mediator) or prophet, or as a ruler. They are all humans through whom God accomplishes his specific purpose. It is through his empowerment that they have been able to achieve what he has desired. So, for someone to be considered a Messiah, an intercessor, ruler, deliverer of God, they must be a human being who has been selected and identified by God for a specific purpose. This is the role that the ultimate Messiah, Yeshua, had been destined for since birth.
The Son of God
Scripture clearly describes Yeshua not only as the Messiah who had been prophesied to deliver his people, but as the son of God, both as a title of unsurpassed honor and as a human born miraculously into existence of a virgin mother.
Luke 1:31-35 [Gabriel speaking] “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Matthew 1:18-21 Now the birth of Yeshua Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.”
There is no indication in the Bible that Yeshua pre-existed his birth, except in the eternal mind and plan of God.
Ephesians 3:8-9, 11 To me [Paul], the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the nations the unfathomable riches of Messiah, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; … This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Messiah Yeshua our Lord,
1 Peter 1:20 For He [Messiah] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
God was prophesied to be his Father:
Psalm 2:7-8 “I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
That God would be his Father is also a theme in the Psalms, where the Messiah is prophetically identified with David, the ideal King of Israel:
Psalm 89:20-29 “I have found David My servant; With My holy oil I have anointed him, With whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. The enemy will not deceive him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. But I shall crush his adversaries before him, And strike those who hate him. My faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him, And in My name his horn will be exalted. I shall also set his hand on the sea And his right hand on the rivers. He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants forever And his throne as the days of heaven.”
We have seen so far that God’s messiahs have been humans selected by God for specific purposes. And yet, there has been prophecy regarding a very specific anointed prophet and king, one who would be known as God’s own Son. Beyond the religious implications, this title of Son of God was also a title of world rulers, and in the time of Yeshua, it was the title of the emperor of Rome himself.
The Son of God as political ruler
Throughout ancient history, and even into some contemporary times, it has been a common practice across many cultures to have the supreme leader of the society referred to as divine, or a son of heaven, or son of God. So for the title son of God to be applied to Yeshua was not just a statement of his physical heritage, but it had subversive political overtones during the first century, as well. To claim that anyone besides the Roman emperor was a son of God was to imply that someone was a rival power to the emperor.
For the early believers, claiming that Yeshua is Lord, the son of God, was equivalent to defying the authority of the Roman emperor, who was also called Lord, son of God (or son of the Divine). It was an act punishable by death. This was the cause of much of the persecution that early believers faced.
Mark begins his narrative with the statement that Yeshua is the Messiah, the son of God:
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Yeshua Messiah, the Son of God.
Unclean spirits also declared he was the son of God:
Matthew 8:29 And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Mark 3:11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”
Luke 4:41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Messiah.
The angel Gabriel declared he would be called the son of God before he was born:
Luke 1:35 The angel answered and said to her, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
A repentant centurion witnessing the crucifixion declared him as the son of God:
Mar 15:39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus (all three of whom were very close friends of Yeshua) declared he was the son of God:
John 11:27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, [even] He who comes into the world.”
The religious leaders knew that this was a common understanding of who he was, and accused him of this during his questioning:
Matthew 26:63-64 But Yeshua kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Yeshua said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Luke 22:70 And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “You have said it.”
John 19:7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”
John the baptizer, the disciples Nathanael and John, the apostle Paul, along with Silvanus and Timothy all declare Yeshua as the son of God:
John 1:34 “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
John 1:49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”
John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
2 Corinthians 1:19 For the Son of God, Messiah Yeshua, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
While Yeshua preferred to refer to himself as the son of man, in his teaching he was constantly referring to God as a heavenly father figure for all people, but more specifically, his own unique father:
John 8:54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;
John 20:17 Yeshua said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
From these references, it is abundantly clear throughout the Scriptures that Yeshua was known as the son of God. This term not only described his miraculous physical heritage, but carried with it the subversive political overtones, as well.
This demonstrates that being represented as God’s son, he cannot actually be God himself. In the trinitarian view, “Jesus” is not just the Son of God, but through centuries of theological discussion he has become God the Son, a phrase which exists nowhere in the Bible. As we have seen, names and titles are important, and the Hebrew understanding of the name Yeshua is “deliverance of God” and Messiah means “anointed one.” The concept of an Incarnation, God becoming a man, is so foreign to the Hebrew culture and the complete texture of the Bible that it defies description. In pagan mythology, gods can take on human form and perform miraculous works, but the Bible never claims that about Yeshua.
In Peter’s preaching, he being one of the closest disciples to Yeshua, proclaimed how it was God working through an obedient human Messiah that he was able to accomplish the works that he did.
Acts 10:37-38 – “You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: how God anointed Yeshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him.
Peter proclaims God was with him through the anointing of his holy Spirit, not that he was God. Paul also proclaims Yeshua’s humanity as the perfect counterpoint to the humanity of Adam:
Romans 5:17 – Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man [Adam], how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Yeshua Messiah.
Yeshua himself claimed that the things he taught and the works he did was because of the power of Yahweh God, the Father, working through him:
John 12:49 – For I have not spoken from my own authority, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me what I should say and what I should speak.
John 14:10 – “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works.
Look, I recognize that in this short time I cannot exhaustively provide the depth of the understanding of the human Messiah, but I am hoping that what we have covered here today begins to open up some areas of theological thinking that are admittedly difficult to summarize when so much tradition has been built up around it. Only a truly ancient Hebraic mindset, which no one shares today, including myself, can begin to understand the meaning of texts that have become muddled through modern Western thinking and anchored in medieval orthodoxy. However, I do believe that we can approximate that type of thinking when we begin to recognize the significance of the name of Yeshua as the deliverer of God, the title of Messiah as the Anointed One of God, and his uniqueness as the Son of God.
I believe it is when we begin to re-define terms related to philosophical theories about God that we begin to stray further from the language and meaning of the Bible. Over the centuries, the theology surrounding who God is and the nature of the Father, Son, and Spirit of God have become mired in the conjecture and imagination of men who try to use Greek philosophical terms like homeostasis, hypostases, homoousion, and ousia in attempts to describe what the nature of a trinitarian God is, but they all fall short of the simplicity of the Bible language.
In the Bible, Yeshua is revealed as the Son of God, in both the context of a miraculous birth and in his unique role as God’s deliverer and savior, his ultimate human Messiah. This places Yeshua at the center and the culmination of the Bible narrative becoming the exemplary human ideal in relation to his self-sacrificial service to God and to others.
This is why the principles of his Sermon on the Mount have such resonance with believers, even until this day, thousands of years later. He spoke of the Kingdom, a Kingdom based on the structure of the Ten Commandments, as both a near and present reality, a realm where vigilance would be required of those who sought to participate. These believers would be set apart and holy, trusting God for all of their needs, just as he did, and they would operate with God’s characteristics of forgiveness and compassion, demonstrating that they are the children of God.
As God’s unique Son, he was not God himself, but because of his faithful obedience even unto death, God resurrected him and exalted him to a position of honor and glory, that those who honor Yeshua would be honoring the Father God himself.
The Messiah I follow was a man miraculously born of a virgin, divinely named as Yeshua, the deliverance or salvation of God. I believe he was anointed and empowered with the Word or Spirit of God at his water baptism, and raised again after death by the power of God. Although unique because of his birth, because he was human he lived a life of temptation, suffering and trial, and overcame all by trusting in his (and our) God, the Father. As a man trusting in God, he has become our example of faithful obedience. Because of his faithfulness, he was raised by God to immortality, and exalted to the highest place of honor that no one else can attain. As prophesied, he has been granted an exalted position to rule all of God’s Creation in the eternal kingdom of God, as God’s metaphorical “right hand,” in deference only to God who, through him, judges all and rules all in all. Because of his faithfulness, God the Father has ordained that he is to receive the same honor as God himself.
At the time the New Testament writings were made, to express faith in Yeshua as the Messiah, true son of God was to reject the authority of the emperor by expressing total allegiance to Yeshua. Still today, it is through acknowledging his sonship (his unique human status and authority) and expressing total allegiance to him as Lord that we also obtain new life:
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Yeshua is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 John 5:5, 12-13 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God? … He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
It is only through the example of Yeshua’s self-sacrificial obedience that we can also become the fully obedient humans that God desires us to be.
These are the things that I believe about Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of God. While much of this may be different than you may have heard or been taught before, I hope there are some nuggets of wisdom that you may want to ponder further in your own studies. Next time, I would like to move on to the topic of the Spirit of God to explore the biblical basis of the work and role of the Spirit in the life of believers.
Remember, there is a Core of the Bible virtual study group that is hosted through the Marco Polo video chat app. It is designed to discuss the topics that we cover each week and to help people with responses to questions that may come up. If you are interested in joining the discussion, simply download the free Marco Polo app and email me a request to join the group at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to send you a link to join the virtual Bible study group. You can also feel free to email me any of your thoughts or comments there, as well.