How Did They Decide?

How Did They Decide?


Christianity stands on the words of a few men. If the disciples of Jesus would have ignored him as did most of the Jews of his day, no one would have ever heard of him. It is only because these men believed he was the Messiah that the world knows of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.


How did these people come to their conclusion? How did these followers of Jesus decide that he was the Messiah prophesied by the Jewish Bible? What was the motivation behind their decision? Was it a deep loyalty to the words of the prophets or was it some other factor that induced them to come to this conclusion?


It is not easy to determine if someone arrived at their conclusion on the basis of intellectual searching or if the conclusions were generated by some external factor and it is not always ethical to attempt to make these judgments. But when the group in question readily switches their beliefs from end to end simply in order to maintain their conclusion in the face of changing facts, it is naive and even irresponsible to take them seriously. Allow the followers of Jesus to illustrate.


According to the Christian Scriptures the followers of Jesus identified Jesus as the Messiah. In the best case scenario, this would mean that the followers of Jesus had carefully and thoroughly built in their minds a comprehensive portrait of the Messiah as predicted by the Jewish prophets. These men felt that their portrait of the Messiah was so solidly grounded in Scripture that they were willing to take upon themselves the weighty responsibility of positively identifying the Messiah with all of its cosmic ramifications. But after all of their Scriptural research they still did not expect Jesus to die (Luke 24:21) and they actually saw his death as a contradiction and a refutation to his Messianic claims. The portrait that they had developed did not include suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. They had read Isaiah 53, Daniel 7 Psalm 22 and all of the missionary proof-texts without it occurring to them that the Messiah is supposed to suffer and die.


But after Jesus died and after they believed that he was resurrected, their portrait of the Messiah underwent a radical change – now the Messiah MUST suffer, he MUST die and if you deny these Biblical “truths” than you MUST be spiritually blinded.


If the Biblical interpretation could turn around on a dime just so that it can keep up with the devotion, there is no reason to grant it any credibility. It is not a matter of being judgmental; it is a matter of being responsible and faithful to the truths with which we were entrusted.

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3 Responses to How Did They Decide?

  1. naaria says:

    We might wonder if their “spiritual blindness” really occured before his “death” (when his selected students were in his presence) or if it came after his death?

    Should not there have been a few more witnesses (including those of the Romans or with select Jewish leaders) throughout all parts of Judea and the Galilee to his miracles after his death, if that was when the real “ah-ha” experience happened? Some witnessed a “wind” at ‘Pentecost’, but Peter had to explain it to others. Since his “real message” and their revelation of who he was didn’t come directly from “the living Jesus”, then a “teaching Jesus” wasn’t really necessary before his death?

  2. Larry says:

    Some might try and make a point that many of them were martyred, so there must have been some truth to what they believed. It wasn’t the first time someone died for their beliefs no will it be the last. Belief does not equal truth. We know this because some people spend their whole lives chasing their beliefs only to admit on their death bed, in someones ear, that they wasted their whole life and were wrong. I wasted over 50 years chasing catholic beliefs only to realize that to my astonishment most of my beliefs that I had and never told anyone, were more inline with Judaism than christianity. I easily could have been in a car wreck and died anytime. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to get to know G-d and his teachings, they inspire and give me strength.

  3. David says:

    Here is something that perhaps we can agree on, or maybe not, read it and see what you think. I know you won’t agree with the part about “Jesus” reigning on Earth but if you replace Jesus with a “Messiah” to come at a future date then I think this entire concept spoken of here in the REV (Revised English Version) commentary would be acceptable to you and other Jews.

    From the REV commentary:
    In Matthew 5:12 and some other verses, the reward is said to be “in heaven.” The Millennial Kingdom, Christ’s future kingdom on earth, had not come yet, so the reward was spoken of as being “in heaven,” that is, in God’s keeping. The reward will be given after the Day of Judgment when Jesus is reigning as king on earth.
    It is understandable that Matthew 5:12 and other verses like it, which speak of rewards, treasures, or even a home in heaven, can be confusing and may lead one to believe that righteous people go to heaven when they die. These include verses such as Matthew 5:12 (“Great is your reward in heaven”), Matthew 6:20 (“store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”), Colossians 1:5 (“The hope that is stored up for you in heaven”) and 1 Peter 1:4 (“Kept in heaven for you”). However, Jesus was talking to Jews who knew (or should have known from the Old Testament scriptures) that they would inherit the earth when the Messiah set up his kingdom on earth (see commentary on Matt. 5:5: “the meek will inherit the earth”). Therefore, the Jews understanding of these concepts would Matthew 32 not be based on a literal use of the word heaven in the sense that these physical things, namely, rewards, treasures, and homes, were actually in heaven, but rather, that God, who is in heaven, is “storing” them or keeping record of them. The actual receipt of these things will occur in the future on earth.
    The Old Testament made it clear that people would get what they deserved and that this would happen when the Kingdom was established. The idea of God keeping track of man’s behavior is clearly recorded in the Old Testament.
    • Malachi 3:16: Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
    • Ecclesiastes 12:14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
    The Book of Revelation notes that at the Judgment, “The books were opened” and “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev. 20:12). That God was keeping a reward or treasure for them in heaven, and that they could add to that treasure by their good deeds, was a common concept in Judaism.
    “The notion of a heavenly treasure, beyond the reach of corruption, was a common eschatological concept in Judaism. The righteous on earth do not yet possess it, for it belongs to the future; nevertheless they can now add to it” (J. Emerton, C. Cranfield, and G. Stanton, The International Critical Commentary: Matthew).
    “An important concept in Jewish and Christian theology is the belief that sins and virtues accumulate and are “stored” the way money might be stored in a treasury. The Lord was believed to keep records of every sin and virtue and require the books be balanced from time to time” (George Wesley Buchanan, The Anchor Bible: To the Hebrews; p. xxv).
    The Jews in Christ’s audience knew that God was keeping track of their deeds with the intention of rewarding them. They will receive what is rightfully theirs when the Messiah returns and establishes his Kingdom on earth.

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