Was Jesus the Messiah?

Robert D Brinsmead

I sense from my reading of the historical Jesus, the idea of people expecting a messiah figure, even some in his day hoping he might be the one, was as obnoxious to him as the apocalyptic idea of a final victory over evil by some form of divine violence.  Looking back a decade and a half ago: I ended my decade of silence by writing a paper outlining my reasons for rejecting the deification of Jesus (my personal crossing of the Christian Rubicon which was more traumatic to me than rejecting Adventism some years earlier), even then I could not let go of Christology entirely.  Christology is based on the belief that Jesus was the Messiah – or in Greek, the Christ.  At that stage I took the adoptionist view of the early Christians – which is to say that God adopted Jesus as Son and anointed him Messiah and Lord at his resurrection.  This is what Paul says in Acts 13, and it is a take-off from Psalm 2 when David was declared to be Son of God and Messiah at the inauguration of his reign. Paul again says the same thing in Romans when he says he was “declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.”

Writing some years later Mark pushes the beginnings of his Messiah office to the Baptism when the Voice said, “You are my beloved Son.”  Writing still later, Matthew and Luke push the beginnings of his being Messiah back further to the nativity and virgin birth, for according to their story, that is how and where he became the Messiah.  Then finally John pushes it back to before the beginning of time.  They were all chasing the red herring of the Messiah.  They forgot about the message of Jesus and substituted the message about Jesus being the Christ – this swallowed up everything.  At first it was a faith to die for, and it soon became a faith to kill for.  For more than 1000 years anyone who dared to deny the orthodox teaching on the person of Christ was put to death.  Calvin’s Geneva brought Servetus to trial and put to him the question, Do you believe that Jesus was the eternal Son of God?  Servetus replied, “I believe that Jesus was the Son of the eternal God.”  This confession was not good enough to satisfy the Protestant council, and Servetus was hauled off to die at the stake in a slow green fire.

How could a church kill people for opposition to its teaching if it had made the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:36-48lk (Luke 6:28-36) its chart and compass? (Love your enemies and do good to them that oppose you and so be like God is).

The rejection of the notion of a Messiah as supreme teacher/leader is contrary to the idea of the New Covenant promised in the OT prophets:

It says, “This is the covenant I will make with them….I will put my laws in their hearts…and they will no more teach every man his neighbour saying, “Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least unto the greatest.” Thus Jesus: “Call no man your Father, Supreme Teacher, Master, Rabbi or Guru.  And he did not change that meaning to “except me” (as Matthew claims).  Even the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying, “I am not your teacher.”