Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Greater Than Moses (Deuteronomy 18)

"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren" (Deut. 18:18).

The popular conception of the coming Messiah within first-century Judaism bore little resemblance to Jesus Christ. An inadequate concept of Messianic prophesies trapped many Jews into expecting a political leader who would free them from Roman rule just as Moses had led the people out of Egyptian bondage. When Jesus first arrived on the scene, many people hoped He was the Christ who would restore the kingdom of Israel to its former dominance. As it became more evident that Jesus did not intend to be the revolutionary the zealots hoped for, many no longer considered Him to be the Messiah, but only a prophet. They did not understand the true mission of the Messiah or His true nature. They failed to realize that the Messiah would be a prophet like Moses, but He would be one who would lead His people from the bondage of sin, not the bondage of the Romans. He would be a prophet who would proclaim the coming of the kingdom, not only to the Jews, but to all nations.

Controversy over the identity of Christ has only increased. Many people will say they consider Jesus a good teacher or prophet, but they deny Him as Messiah. “People often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God,’ ” C.S. Lewis wrote. “That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else He would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a mad-man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, or you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” What He did intend was to proclaim the coming of the kingdom—a kingdom secured by His power and established by His righteousness. Jesus Christ came as one greater than Moses to set His people free and give them eternal life. And Jesus will one day return in power and righteousness. Then all will recognize that He was, and is, the Messiah.

In your own words, explain why Jesus was more than just a “good teacher.” Explore Jesus’s own claims about His divinity and Messiahship, and use these to explain why He could not have been simply a prophet. Do you think the choices C.S. Lewis gives concerning Christ are valid? Use Lewis’s argument to strengthen your own.