Messiah Or Charlatan?

John 4:26

††††††††††† Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the incarnate God; or he was the slickest, most devious charlatan who ever lived. Which was he? There is no question that he claimed to be the Messiah, the Christ, God in human flesh, the Son of God, eternally one with the Father and the Spirit. He made no bones about his claims. But there have been many over the centuries who have made such claims. Most were obvious candidates for the funny farm. Still, they made their claims; and some people believed them. Could Jesus of Nazareth have been such a fraud?

††††††††††† Two thousand years before Jesus was born at Bethlehem, God told Abraham that in his Seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The blessing was not to be found in Abrahamís seeds (the Jewish people), but in his Seed (one promised man). God made it clear that the promised blessing was to be found in only one man of supernatural descent, by passing by Ishmael (the child of the flesh) and choosing Isaac (the child of promise), passing by Esau (the eldest) and choosing Jacob, and passing by Jacobís eleven other sons and choosing Judah. Many, many years later, an insignificant descendent of Abraham named Jesse was identified as one in the messianic family. Jesse had eight sons. But God passed by all of them, except David. David was the one chosen through whom God would raise up the Messiah, the Prince, the Redeemer-King of Israel.

††††††††††† Strict as the genealogical requirements were which must be met by one claiming to be the Christ, the Old Testament prophecies were even more precise and demanding. In Genesis 49:10, Jacob promised that civil government would not depart from Judah, until the Christ had arrived. So it came to pass. Just after the exaltation of Christ to the throne of David, the throne of God, Judahís government collapsed. The nation of Israel was smashed to smithereens in 70 A. D.

††††††††††† There is more. Godís prophet, Micah (Mic. 5:2), declared the precise place where Messiah would be born Ė Bethlehem. But there were two Bethlehems. One was in Ephrathah. The other was in Zebulon, seventy miles to the north. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Ephrathah, the Bethlehem specified by Micah.

††††††††††† The prophecies of the Old Testament were even more detailed. The prophets spoke plainly and in minute detail about the Messiah being of poor social status, his miraculous powers, and his death at Jerusalem. They predicted that Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver, forsaken by his followers, falsely accused, that he would refuse to defend himself, that he would be executed by crucifixion, that he would be numbered among transgressors in his death, that he would pray for his tormenters at the time of his crucifixion, that his body would be pierced, and yet not a bone of it broken, and that men would cast lots for his garment.

††††††††††† Anyone who pretends to imagine that all the prophecies of the Old Testament, just accidentally coincided with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and deny that he is indeed the Christ, God incarnate, ďthe Savior of the world,Ē is a wilfully ignorant fool.

Don Fortner