Who’s the Messiah?

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 27 & 28

Poetry: Proverbs 15

New Testament: Acts 9

We will continue to look at some theological themes from the book of Acts by studying the story of Saul’s conversion. When you look at the big picture, we can see Jesus chasing Saul and transforming his life into one that aligned with God’s will for his life. Saul truly believed that he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians and the early church. From a Jewish perspective, we can understand why Saul thought this. Jesus came claiming to be the Messiah, but the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Son of God, just as it was prophesied. But in chapter nine of Acts, we see Jesus appear to Saul on the road to Damascus as he reveals to him his identity as the Messiah. Jesus chose Saul to preach the name of Jesus as the Messiah to both the Gentiles and Jews. I love this because it shows how much God and Jesus can use us for their Kingdom work when we let them. They have the power to transform lives. The power to turn persecuting Saul into preaching Paul.

Saul is instructed to preach that Jesus is the Son of God (8:20). He was instructed to teach the Jews in the synagogues that the Jesus they rejected was the Savior whom they were waiting for. At no point is Saul told to preach that Jesus was God in human form. The Jews knew their prophecies and understood that the Messiah would save the world as a representative of God, not as God himself. So when it says that Saul preached Jesus as the Christ, the Jews should have understood this to mean that Jesus was the chosen human savior to complete God’s work on earth. Additionally, Jesus had the perfect opportunity to explain to Saul who he was. Saul asked who was speaking to him, and Jesus simply replied with, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” If Jesus were trying to get Saul—a practicing Jew with power and authority among the Jewish community—to understand that he was God, then he would have said something that clarified and explained how he was a god in flesh. Sometimes we can learn a lot from what is not said in the Bible. Verse 22 says, “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” If Saul proved to the Jews in Damascus that Jesus was the Messiah, then they simply would have understood it from a Jewish theological perspective. Saul did not even attempt to change or ‘correct’ their understanding of the Messiah, he simply revealed who the Messiah was. Current Jews today are still waiting for their Messiah to return because they missed it the first time. Therefore, they believe that God is one, and not a triune God. This idea of three entities would be considered idolatry from a Jewish perspective, because from the very beginning, God has revealed himself to his chosen people as the one true God. This means that the early church and apostles would have had to correct thousands of years of ‘incorrect’ theology if they wanted to preach that Jesus was God. Instead, the book of Acts stays consistent with the rest of the Bible, and preaches that Jesus was the Messiah.

Although looking at a chapter and studying what it leaves out does not necessarily prove anything, we can see that the Bible is consistent in the fact that there is no explanation of who Jesus is other than a human that God sent to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. Therefore, from a Trinitarian perspective, Acts would be a book full of missed opportunities to preach true theology to the Jews. But since God does not make mistakes, Acts is a beautiful book of theological truths that align with the rest of Scripture and paint a picture of Jesus as the Messiah that the Jews should have known and loved.

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. How does one let Jesus transform their life?
  2. How has the definition of Messiah changed over the years from the Jewish understanding to modern mainstream Christianity?

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