The Messiah is Spoken of Throughout the Hebrew Bible

The Messiah is spoken of throughout the Hebrew Bible

Reference: Hebrew Bible
Fulfillment: Luke 24:13-27

The scene was a few days after Jesus had been crucified. His disciples had hoped he would bring about the long-awaited redemption of Israel. But rather than triumphing over Rome and bringing in the messianic kingdom with splendor and fullness, Jesus died at the hands of Rome. He was gone. Given his popularity among the people, everyone knew it, too.

What was to be done? Instead of joining Jesus in the messianic kingdom, his disciples now had to return to their old work as disillusioned fishermen and tradesmen.

There were reports from some women that they had seen Jesus alive, but they were just unverified ramblings.

Until this happened:

That very day two of them [the disciples] were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

And he said to them, “What things?”

And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

“Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-27)

Rather than commiserate with these two disciples, Jesus points them to the prophets of the Bible and reiterates what he had told them numerous times before: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” To paraphrase this, Jesus was asking, “Wasn’t it by God’s plan that the Messiah had to suffer, die, and then be resurrected?” The Greek “necessary” implies that there was no choice; this is how things had to be to redeem Israel and the world. Redemption, it turns out, happens not by military victory or sheer power but by the Messiah’s atoning death and his subsequent resurrection to life.

And how do we know this? It is right there in the Hebrew Bible: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The Bible shows us both a Messiah who conquers—the traditional Jewish idea—and also a Messiah who suffers and dies. The idea of Messiah as a conqueror continues to capture popular imagination, yet the Bible gives us two pictures of the Messiah, so much so that a tradition of two Messiahs arose: Messiah ben Joseph who suffers and dies in battle, and the subsequent Messiah ben David who fulfills the traditional, triumphant idea of what the Messiah would be. (For more, see the article “First Things First.”)

In the following articles, we will explore a number of messianic passages in the Hebrew Bible. Many of them show that the Messiah was a person of humility, not someone who walked in the corridors of power. Many reveal how the Messiah suffered and died an atoning death.

While trudging along the road to Emmaus, Jesus may well have explained many of these passages to his disciples.

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