Then he says, "These are the Scriptures that testify about me." Many have interpreted this to mean that Jesus is referring to himself being the only Messiah, and the scriptures foretell of Jesus' coming as the only Messiah.
However, that is not the real meaning of Jesus’ statement.
When Jesus states that the Scriptures testify about him, he is meaning that he is the embodiment of their teachings to love and serve the Supreme Being. He is practicing and teaching what they taught. Jesus is referring to the scriptural texts telling the lives and teachings of Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Job, Isaiah and other great loving servants of the Supreme Being - which we now refer to as the Old Testament.
Yes, it is called the "Old Testament" because these books testify - which means to make a declaration or give evidence - of the loving relationships that exist between the Supreme Being and His loving servants. The declarations of the Old Testament's teachings are summed up, as Jesus and Moses both taught:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)Jesus quoted this teaching of Moses (Deut 6:5) and passed it on to his students (also Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27).
Thus, we know that this is the essence of the declaration of the Scriptures, according to Jesus.
So how did this testify about Jesus? Because Jesus was the embodiment of loving God: He was the pure lover of God. His entire life was devoted to the Supreme Being and He served the Supreme Being even in the greatest sacrifice: to be tortured and killed because of his service to the Supreme Being.
On the other hand, despite the significant word-bending by ecclesiastical sectarian teachers, there is absolutely no clear statement in the Old Testament that defines Jesus as the only coming Messiah. In fact, the books of the Old Testament are quite unclear when it comes to predicting any single Messiah to come.
Was Jesus the only Messiah?
If the Old Testament supposedly declares a coming Messiah in the name of Jesus why doesn't it say it clearly anywhere? Why wouldn’t God or the scriptures simply say “The only Messiah is Jesus Christ” then?
Is there even one clear sentence in the Old or New Testament that states these things? And why do sectarian theologians have to twist and bend words of David’s Psalms or other scriptures to try to infer that anytime the future is spoken of, it must be the day that Jesus will come?
Just consider some of the best scriptural verses that ecclesiastical sectarian teachers have used to infer the Old Testament was all about Jesus:
[The LORD had said to Abram] “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:3)Reality: Here God is pledging to Abraham that because Abraham was doing God's will and teaching to others on His behalf, that God will protect him. He also is telling of Abraham's empowerment because he will pass on God's message to others and successive generations will hear that message. Jesus is neither mentioned or referred to.
Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.” (Genesis 17:9)Reality: Here God is instructing Abraham to do His will, and instruct his children to do the same. "My covenant" is the exchange of a loving relationship with God, comprised of the loving servant serving God and God protecting His loving servants. Again, Jesus is not mentioned or referred to here.
But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” (Genesis 21:12)Reality: God is foretelling of the split that will take place between Esau and Isaac. There is no mention or referral to Jesus.
[Moses, speaking to the Israelites] “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)Reality: Moses is telling his people that God will empower another teacher from among them - the people of Israel. This has nothing to do with an event thousands of years later. Moses is talking about Joshua, who God would command and lead the Israelites across the Jordan, and become their spiritual leader. Moses also recognized other teachers among the tribes of Israel, including Levi, Reuben, Dan, Gad, Joseph, Benjamin and others. Again, there is no mention or referral to Jesus.
The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18)Reality: Again, Moses is speaking of Joshua, who was Moses' servant and student, who God instructed directly after Moses' death. Once again, no mention or referral to Jesus.
[David, speaking of God] I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son ; today I have become your Father.” (Psalms 2:7)Reality: If this Psalm is read objectively, David is obviously stating that God is referring to David as His son, since God is addressing David in the quote. The Hebrew word that has been translated to “son” is בֵּן (ben). While this can indicate a relationship of offspring in the context of a physical family, in this context (between God and one of God's faithful), it is appropriately translated as 'dedicated follower' or better, 'loving servant'. Thus we find, fittingly, that God is referring to David as His loving servant, and David is simply restating what God said to him. No mention or referral to Jesus.
Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and the name of His son? Tell me if you know! (Proverbs 30:4)Reality: This is an oracle (or ode) to God written by Agur. Prior to this verse, Agur writes: "I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One." The "Holy One" is God. Though Agur is a loving servant of God, he takes the humble position of not knowing God. This is a typical position among God's loving servants. Because they are involved in a loving relationship with God, they seek Him constantly. Here again we find that the Hebrew word being translated to “son” is בֵּן (ben) - which can mean according to the lexicon, "a member of a guild, order, class." - In other words, a devoted follower - or in the case of a devoted follower of God - a loving servant.
When we apply the translation properly to 'loving servant' the verse now makes sense. Even Jesus subscribed to this translation, as Jesus stated:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons [loving servants] of God.” (Matthew 5:9)And Jesus' followers stated:
"those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons [loving servants] of God." (Romans 8:12-17)And in Genesis it states:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. (Genesis 6:4)None of these verses make sense when בֵּן (ben) is being translated to "son." But when בֵּן (ben) - υἱός (huios) in Greek, which can mean according to the lexicon, "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower" - these verses suddenly have meaning. For example:
"those who are led by the Spirit of God are the devoted followers of God." (Romans 8:12-17)or
"those who are led by the Spirit of God are the loving servants of God." (Romans 8:12-17)Now back to those verses of the Old Testament that supposedly predict Jesus' appearance:
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear [respect] of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2)Reality: Here Isaiah is referring to Jesse's son David, as the verse before this says: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit." This fruit that is being spoken of is the development of love for God and the passing on of the teaching of love for God through many generations. David has been revered for thousands of years as an exalted loving servant of God. There is no mention or referral to Jesus in this verse or its surrounding verses.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1)Reality: Here Isaiah is referring to himself, as he was empowered by God to preach to others about God's glories and how to develop a loving relationship with God. Again, no mention or referral to Jesus.
Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:1-2)Reality: In Micah, this prediction is probably the one that is argued by ecclesiastical sectarians as the strongest indication that Jesus' arrival was predicted in the Old Testament. Is it true?
Here Micah is talking about someone who would become the king of Israel. He is referring to a governmental king. This has nothing to do with Jesus, because Jesus was not a historical king of Israel or the Jews. In fact, Jesus was completely dishonored by the official Jews of the day. Jesus was not accepted by any Israelite or Jewish official as any king. In fact, Israelite officials conspired to have Jesus arrested. Jesus was obviously not who Micah is referring to here.
Let's get more clear about the setting and history of Micah's statement. Beyth Lechem (Bethlehem Ephrathah) refers to the small city in Judah, where King David was born. Following David's reign, and at the time of Micah, there were many wars between the Israelites and the Assyrians. After several generations, the Ammonites and the Assyrians had battled with the Israelites, and the Israelite cities, including the Temple of Jerusalem and its fortress walls, had been badly damaged. Israel was in a poor state of affairs, and was largely subservient to foreign kings.
King Jotham arose out of the House of David to become king of Israel. Being a direct descendant of David, and also a devoted loving servant of God, Jotham was both a wise spiritual leader and an adept king. It was Jotham, in fact, who finally defeated the Ammonites, and created a truce with the Assyrians. Jotham then went about rebuilding the Temple and rebuilt the walls of the city. He basically renewed Israel militarily, economically and spiritually:
Jotham made war on the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years. Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God. (2 Chron. 27:6-7)Jesus, on the other hand, was a spiritual teacher, who had numerous students. But he was never the king or ruler of Israel. Thus, he was not the subject of Micah's prophesy.
This conclusion that Micah 5 refers to Jotham is confirmed several verses later:
"And he will be their peace. When the Assyrian invades our land and marches through our fortresses, we will raise against him seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land and marches into our borders." (Micah 5:5-6)The practical and real translations* of all of these quotes reveal that sectarian teachers have, for centuries, sought to recklessly bend and twist the scriptures to make them appear as though the Old Testament was directly predicting Jesus' arrival as the one and only Messiah. If the texts refer to Jesus, why would it not be obvious? Is God trying to hide Jesus within the words of the Old Testament to trick some people? This would be a ridiculous conclusion.
The word 'messiah' (Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ or mashiyach) - can also be translated to 'anointed one' - describes the role of being God's representative. In other words, 'anointed one' and 'messiah' are synonyms in Hebrew. Consider this clear statement using the root of this word משח (mashach):
"Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve Me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations." (Exodus 40:15)and
Those were the names of Aaron's sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. (Numbers 3:3)Furthermore, the Greek word translated to Messiah a few times in the New Testament is Μεσσίας (Messias), which also literally means 'anointed,' though it can also be translated to 'savior' or 'messiah.' This means that 'messiah' and 'anointed one' are also synonyms in Greek.
In other words, Messiah is a role.
Messiah is the role of being God's representative - the representative of the only person (and the true Messiah) who can truly save us - the Supreme Being.
The reality is that the Old Testament is a chronology (testament) of a lineage of God's 'anointed ones' or 'Messiahs' through thousands of years. Each of these loving servants of God described through the texts of the Old Testament, including Abraham, Moses, David, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah, Noah, Jotham and others, were all Messiahs - as was Jesus. They were all loving servants of God who became God's representative. As God's representative, each was empowered to save those around them with their teachings - making them each Savior as well as Messiah.
The fact is, those who have twisted the scriptures have been simply trying to falsely bolster Jesus’ position. Why do they need to falsely bolster Jesus’ position? Because they didn’t hear and act on Jesus’ teachings. They did not see the power of Jesus' teachings. They did not see that Jesus was empowered by his loving relationship with God, and he represented God and spoke on God’s behalf. Due to their lack of spiritual vision of Jesus' real authority, they had to bend and twist scripture in an attempt to create fictitious authority.
This was ecclesiastically promulgated in 325 when the Roman emperor Constantine decided the Roman government could better control Europe by controlling this burgeoning religion, Christianity. So he gathered up leading teachers from all over, and created the Nicene Creed, which dictated that Jesus was the only Messiah in an attempt to consolidate authority.
And they followed this by murdering or imprisoning those who did not follow the Creed. This created a monopoly over Christianity that stood for twelve centuries under the iron fist of the Roman Catholic Church. This strategy also worked for the Roman government, who maintained their huge empire for many centuries.
Furthermore, now that Jesus came, all the ecclesiastical sectarian followers are now waiting for him to 'come' again? Wasn’t the first 'coming' enough? He now has to 'come' again in order for people to be saved? This, of course, is a teaching of those who did not hear and comprehend Jesus' teachings in the first place.
It must be asked of the ecclesiastical sectarian teachers: Why, if Jesus saved everyone by his dying on the cross, did he bother to teach? Why did he stand up on hilltops, and amongst people in courtyards in order to try to teach us to love God and do God’s will, if all we have to do is stare at Jesus’ cross every Sunday and pledge our allegiance to Jesus and be saved? Why would Jesus have bothered teaching people about doing God's will and loving God?
Quite simply, this teaching of being saved by the cross quite simply misses Jesus' entire message. It produces a series of rituals to enable those who do not want to change to feel that they are saved. The result is thinking that we can do just about whatever we want, and then go to church on Sunday and wipe off all our sins onto Jesus’ cross (some ghoulishly call this “bathing in the blood of Jesus”) and then be freed of sins and be saved.
Jesus actually spoke directly to this philosophy:
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:21-23)Jesus says he will say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” to those who are preaching in Jesus’ name, driving out demons and even doing miracles in Jesus name, what to speak of those who are just going to church and wiping their sins off on Jesus once a week.
The key statement here is “but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Jesus’ teachings focused on us doing God’s will. Jesus was teaching love for God and doing God's will. He was trying to teach us to change from our self-centered lives to a God-centered life.
This is the same message all of the prophets mentioned above also taught. Thus Jesus was the embodiment of the prophets of the Old Testament: He was practicing what they had taught. Yes, Jesus was the Messiah, but so were all of the prophets.
A messiah is someone who can save a person by giving them love for God. A messiah is the representative of God (making the Supreme Being the true Messiah). All of the prophets were representing the Supreme Being and were empowered by God. They taught love for God, and this teaching, when delivered by one who already loves God, can save us. Thus we can also say with authority that, as Jesus indicates, the teachings of the prophets not only testified for Jesus' life and teachings, but Jesus' life and teachings embodied them. Thus, the "life" that Jesus speaks of is loving service to God. This is why Jesus quoted Moses when he said:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
*Here is the translation of these verses according to the Gospels of Jesus:
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these testify about me; yet you refuse to follow me so that you may have life." (John 5:39-40)