When it comes to viewing the Messiah, Christians and Jews have different perspectives on the Messiah’s “salvation.” Most Christians view the Messiah as the One who will save them from their sins, but see Him more as a “spiritual King” rather than a powerful earthly king who brings justice. On the other hand, many Jews are looking for a fair and powerful king to rule Israel and wonder what practical good comes with an internal justification. In reality and in the Christmas story, both are true — the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the King that Israel was promised.
What kind of King was Israel promised? Here are just a few things they were to look for:
– God made a covenant that a man from David’s line will rule on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7).
– A child would be born, given the government, called “God” and have an ever expanding Kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7).
– A man born in Bethlehem who will rule Israel — whose origins are from eternity (Micah 5:2).
The Christmas story begins when Gabriel arrives to tell Mary “you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33). While it is true and necessary that Jesus came to forgive sins, the first prophecy over Jesus is that He will rule on David’s throne over Israel forever. Throughout Yeshua’s teachings, He loved to talk about the “Kingdom.” This is because He is a King and was promised a Kingdom. Not just any kingdom, but the Kingdom of Israel and the kingdoms of this world. If this is not true, or this refers to some type of “celestial kingdom in the clouds,” then God does not plan to keep His word and promise to David and Israel. We know that this is not God’s Character.
After His birth, the Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem to worship the King of the Jews, expecting that in Jerusalem is where David ruled from, and where the king of the Jews will sit (Matthew 2:1-6). These men clearly understood the divine aspect of this King as they were following “His star.” What King or man has ever had his own star that led others to him? This child was more than just a child, but one that the heavens responded to. When they found him they gave him gifts for a king and worshipped Him as such.
It is for this reason that after Jesus was raised from the dead that the disciples asked Him, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). When our theology removes Israel from the New Testament, or views Jesus as just forgiving our sins, this question seems out of place. Yet to the Jewish boys who asked it, it made perfect sense. Here is a man, Yeshua, whose birth was announced by angels as the King who will reign over Israel forever, was born in Bethlehem according to the Hebrew prophets, led others to Him by “His star,” is from the line of David, performed miracles, said He was God then was killed and resurrected to live forever. Is there ANY other Jewish man in history that could even come close? From the eyes of the Hebrew Scriptures and knowing that God keeps His word, the Jewish disciples ask an obvious question — “Lord, is now the time to you are restoring the Kingdom to Israel?” Notice that Jesus didn’t say “No. You got it all wrong” but says “don’t worry about the time the Father has set…” Jesus affirmed their belief in His literal Kingship and authority while letting them know there are other things to do first.
Picture this: Christians and Jews unite under an everlasting, kind, and merciful Jewish King that has provided forgiveness of sins AND a literal peace and security for Israel from David’s throne on the land that God made a covenant with Abraham. In this season, as we remember the birth of the King of the Jews, let us not forget why He came. The King is coming for His people and His rightful throne.