Was Yeshua (Jesus) a mensch, meshuggah or Messiah? Jesus is the most famous Jewish person that ever lived but if you ask people who He was or is, there will inevitably be a variety of responses. You might ask four of your friends and receive five opinions! Some will say that he was a real mensch (a truly good human being), others that He was a meshuggah (crazy) whilst others say that He is Messiah.
Matthew’s gospel is a Jewish gospel written to a Jewish audience about a Jewish Messiah. Intriguingly, He asked His disciples who do men say that I, the Son of Man am? Let us consider the context and who might have put forward their opinion. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, the Essenes, Zealots and Herodians plus geographically speaking, the Judeans, Galileans, and others present at the time. They responded that some said John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Yeshua asked Peter who He was, and Peter declared that He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-16).
Many people love to read the Sermon on the Mount and they recognise that Jesus was an exceptional teacher with superb moral character. Those whose believe that He is the Messiah would say that He is more than a mensch because of the claims He made and what He did. Make no mistake these claims were saying that He is the Son of God such as “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, I am the door”, “I am the good shepherd”, “I am the resurrection and the life”, I am the way, the truth, and the life” and “I am the true vine” (John 6:35; 8:12: 9:5; 10:9, 11, 11:25, 14:6; 15:1). In Exodus 3:14 God revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM”.
Moses and Elijah performed miracles though Jesus performed greater miracles and rose from the dead. Moses spoke of a prophet like him who would arise, and Jesus’ disciples recognised Him as the prophet like Moses. The Lord Jesus taught as no one else ever taught and with real authority from God. The face of Moses shone and Moses and Elijah where present with Yeshua when He was transfigured, and His glory was revealed. The law and the prophets present numerous foreshadows and prophesies of the Messiah.
Many people have claimed to be Messiah and have been discredited quickly. Messiah is supposed to be able to perform miracles, fulfil prophecy and bring peace. Some speak of a Messiah for every age, but the Bible speaks of a specific Saviour who will atone for sin. Without exemplary spiritual character and the required credentials, messianic claims are quickly proven false and discredited. Unlike anyone else that ever lived, Jesus was sinless and the only thing people could try and accuse Him of was blasphemy and claiming to be equal with God.
Do his teachings read as those of a meshuggah? He said search the scriptures for they testify of Me (John 5:39). He consistently quoted the Tanakh and came not to do away with the law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17-18). At twelve years of age he astonished those in the temple with His understanding and answers. Though He taught for just three years and never wrote a book His teachings are known worldwide and have turned the world upside down.
Let us think again of the timing of the events. In addition to fulfilling prophecy, living a sinless life, and performing miracles, the Lord Jesus came before the temple was destroyed in AD70. Leviticus 17:11 makes it clear that it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. His blood paid the price of our atonement to reconcile us to a holy God. How else would atonement be possible? Hebrews 9:22 tells us “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding blood there is no remission.”
Daniel foretold that Messiah would be cut off (killed) before the temple would be destroyed (Daniel 9:24-27). David prophesied that God would not allow His Holy One to see corruption (Psalm 16:10) and the Lord Jesus did exactly that when God raised Him from the dead. Messiah left from the Mount of Olives and that is where He will return and judge the world and bring peace. Messiah is coming but are you ready for when he returns. Have you sought Him for forgiveness, turned to Him and trusted Him?
‘Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are those who put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:12).’