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[Would You have recognized Jesus?]
If You had met Jesus:- Two thousand years ago the excited word went out. "We have found the Messiah!- the very person Moses and the prophets told us about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth!" (20:1)

"Nazareth"?! came a skeptical reply, "Can anything good come from there?" "Just come and see for yourself..." (John 1:45 (Living Bible-Catholic Edition)) Imagine the excitement that this news must have generated as it spread across the land. Have you heard, "We have found the Messiah"! He's finally come! Imagine the hope that people would have felt. "Oh God, please let it be true." Others may have wondered... how can a low-born, uneducated carpenter from the hick town of Nazareth, of all places, be the Messiah? (20:2) see

Where would people back then have gone to try to find out whether this claim was true or not? Who would they have asked? They no doubt would have gone to their local clergyman... they would have asked their rabbi. Or, if they lived anywhere near Jerusalem, they probably would have asked a scribe or a priest... "Rabbi, has the Messiah come?" Is "Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth" the Messiah? (20:3)

The Jewish religious leaders no doubt would have laughed at the very suggestion that a person like Jesus could possibly ever be the Messiah. You can imagine the questions that they would have scornfully asked in reply. If Jesus is the Messiah... then explain to us why we haven't seen any of our Messianic prophecies fulfilled yet? Our prophecies explicitly state that the real Messiah will be a king who sits upon the throne of David. Our Messiah will destroy the enemies of Israel. Our Messiah will abolish war forever. Our Messiah will restore prosperity to Israel. And even more explicitly, the rabbis knew that the appearance of the real Messiah will be heralded by the return of the Prophet Elijah from heaven. The rabbis probably would have asked sarcastically... "has anyone here seen Elijah come sailing down from heaven in a chariot of fire yet?" Nope! No one had. Jesus did not outwardly fulfill any of the rabbi's messianic expectations. That's why they would have had absolutely no doubt that this Jesus could not possibly have been the Messiah (20:4)

The only problem with these conclusions was that they were dead wrong. Jesus truly was the Messiah. Jesus truly was the one whose coming had been expected for centuries. But the Jewish religious experts could not see this. Why not? What had the rabbis missed? Was there something that they had overlooked? Let's take a closer look. "Just come and see for yourself..." (20:5)

Let's begin by looking at this story from the rabbi's perspective. Put yourself in their place. If you could have been there two thousand years ago... do you think that you would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah? Most Christians today like to think that somehow they would have. But how realistic is this? What were people back then actually expecting to see when their Messiah finally did appear? And then ask yourself this question... how closely did Jesus actually fit these expectations? To get a better understanding of what people back then would have been looking for... let's begin by taking a look at how the people of Jesus' own home town reacted when he first told them that he was the Messiah (20:6)

This great announcement was made in the same small synagogue that Jesus had attended year after year as he was growing up as a child in Nazareth. In fact, it's entirely plausible that many of the people there that day were some of his oldest and closest friends (20:7)

The New Testament account tells us what happened that day. It begins, as "...he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him..." Jesus read a passage where Isaiah foretold the coming of the "anointed" one. (In the original Greek, the word "anointed" is 'Christ') As Jesus sat down he turned to speak to the assembled crowd. The quote continues, "...The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened upon him, and he said to them 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.' " (20:8)

Can you see what Jesus had just done? For the very first time, Jesus had announced to the people of his own home town that he was the Messiah! (20:9)

Messianic Expectations:- Many Christian books have been written which attempt to answer such questions. These 'apologetics' books try to explain what the Jews of two thousand years ago WOULD have been expecting in a Messiah and then they attempt to show how Jesus fulfilled these expectations (21:1)

One of the most popular of these kind of commentaries is Josh McDowell's best selling book "Evidence That Demands a Verdict". Josh McDowell is a modern Christian scholar who is well respected as an expert on Bible prophecy. In "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" he lists a large number of Old Testament prophecies which, in his opinion, offer a clear picture of what the average Jewish person in first century Israel probably would have been expecting to see when the Messiah appeared (21:2)

In the introduction of this book Josh McDowell states: "The Old Testament, written over a 1,000 year period, contains several hundred references to the coming Messiah. All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and they establish a solid confirmation of His credentials as the Messiah." (p. 141) Let's take a closer look at a few of these prophecies to see what they actually say (21:3)

One of the more famous Messianic prophecies that Josh McDowell cites is from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah. Every Christmas we can hear this passage recited in churches all over the world: "Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) (21:4) see

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