John 3 and the Two types of Messiahs
Messiah ben Joseph & Messiah ben David. The Suffering Servant and the Victorious King.
Many Messianic believers are familiar with these concepts and have learned through experience how to recognize them in both the Tanakh (the Old Testament) and the New Testament. One New Testament passage I had not recognized the presence of these concepts is one of the most well known passages of all John 3 and the conversation with Nicodemus.
This conversation highlights how the Jewish community in the days before and after Yeshua were still struggling with seeing and understanding these ideas. Records exist of rabbinic arguments about the Messiah; whether He would be one Messiah coming twice, or two Messiahs each coming once.
On this end of history and faith, it may seem obvious, but it was not always so. We shouldn’t be too hard on them for struggling to make sense of the plan and purpose of God. After all, according to Isaiah 55:8-9— “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (TLV)
This struggle is a good example of how a single interpretation can become so popular that it actually interferes with the truth. What is preferred or wanted can blind the interpreter or the assembly to the activity of the Father going on right before their eyes.
One reason the time of Messiah’s visitation was not recognized is because popular theology had blinded many of the leaders with a particular interpretation. They expected the deliverance of God’s people would only happen one way. When Yeshua did not meet their expectations; expectations many of the disciples themselves held, the true Messiah was rejected.
Because of the oppression in the land, first from the Greeks then the Romans, the popular position was an expectation of Messiah ben David, the Victorious King who would come and proclaim freedom to the people and the land by driving out the foreign, ungodly influence. There has been enough suffering, a King like David is needed.
Prophetically speaking, this popular interpretation wanted to skip the message found in the Spring Feasts (the Suffering Servant) and go directly to the fulfilment of the Kingdom expressed in the Fall Feasts; the Victorious King who judges the nations and sits on the throne in Jerusalem.
However, if the Father followed this scenario, all of humanity, including the Jewish people, would be in danger because the problem of sin hasn’t been dealt with yet. Anyone who tries to enter the Kingdom still in their sin, still uncovered by the blood, will be judged.
The King will pronounce sentence on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and that sentence will be carried out. Everyone, Jew and Gentile would be judged guilty because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Everyone, Jew and Gentile, would receive the same sentence, “for the wages of sin is death.”
In other words, the Kingdom would be very quiet and empty and the King would have no one to rule.
Therefore, before we can enjoy the benefits and the presence of the holy King, sin must be dealt with.
The Spring Feasts must be fulfilled before the Fall Feasts come to pass. Following this sequence of events is for our benefit, even if everyone does not recognize it.
Yeshua, of course, knew this. He also knew, His purpose and mission would fly in the face of popular theology. He knew great and learned men would oppose Him because He was going to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” the Suffering Servant who dies for the sins of His people instead of what they wanted.
Yeshua tried to convince His disciples of this over the course of His ministry, but even they struggled, asking “Let us sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” (Mark 10:37—TLV) and again asking, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6-TLV).
Many times, Yeshua tried to teach them that His mission was to come and suffer, to die in Jerusalem. But this lesson was so unwanted, so contrary to accepted, popular theology, that it didn’t take in their hearts until after the Resurrection.
It struck me recently that Yeshua was even trying to teach this to Nicodemus during the most well known conversation, in the most often quoted passages in all the New Testament: John 3:16-17.
In light of what you have read so far about Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David, read those two passages with fresh eyes.
16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Verse 17 describes what will happen at the fulfillment of the Fall Feasts; what the teachers and theologians of Yeshua’s day wanted most to see. The King coming in power to judge the nations, the world, and establish the Throne of David in Jerusalem, ushering in the eternal reign of Messiah.
Again, if Yeshua had come for that purpose, at that time, as Messiah ben David, then no one would have escaped His judgement because as James 2:10 says, “whoever keeps the whole Torah but stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” That Torah, the Father’s instruction, is that basis for Messiah ben David’s judgement.
But Nicodemus needed to know that Yeshua was not here to do that yet. “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world.” It was not time for the King to pronounce sentence, not time to fulfill the Fall Feasts. Yeshua was telling Nicodemus that He was not here to be Messiah ben David.
Yeshua had to be Messiah ben Joseph first because God loved the world. Sin had to be dealt with, in order for any of us to enter the Kingdom. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son”. The Father gave His sinless, spotless Son as an offering, as the Passover Lamb, so our sins would be covered, and we could survive when Messiah ben David comes to rule and reign.
God revealed this as His heart back in Genesis 22 in the Binding of Isaac. As difficult as it is to come to terms with this passage, the most basic thing we need to understand is that God did not ask Abraham to do anything that He Himself was not willing to do. The Father was always going to provide.
God does want His people with Him in eternity. All He is doing in our redemption is striving to make that possible. Skipping the fulfilment of the Spring Feasts, skipping the Suffering Servant would actually prevent us from being with Him.
Because He is going to one day judge the nations in righteousness. He is going to fulfill the Fall Feasts. That Day is certainly coming. All those who recognize Yeshua as Messiah are looking forward to that Day. What is amazing and what further shows the connection between Jew and Gentile is that Jewish people who do not recognize Yeshua as Messiah are also looking forward to that Day. Both are looking forward to the next step on the prophetic calendar—the fulfilment of the Fall Feasts.
Trumpets, announcing the arrival of the King for Coronation. Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, when the nations will be judged, and the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Tabernacles, the Wedding Feast, where we take our place in the Father’s house that Yeshua has prepared for us and He dwells with us.
Amen, Come Lord Yeshua.