The Son of God
Jesus, the Son of God.
The Hebrew word zakhor brings what is remembered from the past, or hoped for in the future, into the present. When a priest re-presents the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he brings Rabbi Yeshua’s Final Sacrifice, which occurred in chronological time two thousand years ago, into the present, on the altar.
Rabbi Yeshua and his Apostles and Evangelists were intensely Jewish. Second Exodus tries to bring the Church’s early life into the present by using their Hebrew and Aramaic names. And so we call him what his Apostles called him.
He was called Rabbi Yeshua during his entire public ministry. No one in Rabbi Yeshua’s time spoke English. English comes from a language family parent called Indo-European. Hebrew and Aramaic come from the Semitic language family. Pre-historic Old English, the most ancient parent of Modern English, began as Mercian, Northumbrian, Kentish, and West Saxon dialects of West Germanic in Britain’s Anglo-Saxon territory about AD 450. At that time it was much closer to modern German and Icelandic than to Modern English.
Yeshua is His Name
Isaiah wrote, “Behold, your salvation [yeshua] comes” Is 62:11. In Hebrew, yeshua means “salvation.” In Greek, the language of our surviving Gospel manuscripts, Iesous. In Latin, the official language of the Church, Iesus. In English, Jesus.
This Hebrew word, yeshua, “salvation,” comes from the Hebrew root ysha, and is pronounced yeshuA. As a name in Hebrew it is pronounced YeshUa. In the Aramaic that Jesus spoke every day, the name he used during his incarnate life, was the same word pronounced YESHua.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.
Rabbi is His Title
In ancient Hebrew, rabbi was a proper term of address for a superior of any kind, a master. Among the Jews who did not follow him, apart from Rabbi Hillel, rabbi first described the rabbis of the Sanhedrin in Rabbi Yeshua’s time.
Among the many who followed him, St. John tells us that Yeshua, the Son of God, was often called rabbi. Jn 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8. In Hebrew, rabbi means “my teacher.” Mary Magdalene called him rabboni, “my great teacher” Jn 20:16.
Rav means “teacher.” The last letter i adds the possessive. For example, aba is “father” but avi is “my father” (the b and v are interchangeable, used according to Hebrew grammar). Orthodox Jews often speak of Moses as Moshe Rabeinu, “Moses our teacher.”
In Hebrew Rabbi Yeshua therefore means “My teacher of salvation:”
§ 578 Jesus, Israel’s Messiah and therefore the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, was to fulfill the Law by keeping it in its all embracing detail – according to his own words, down to “the least of these commandments.” He is in fact the only one who could keep it perfectly. On their own admission the Jews were never able to observe the Law in its entirety without violating the least of its precepts. This is why every year on the Day of Atonement the children of Israel ask God’s forgiveness for their transgressions of the Law. The Law indeed makes up one inseparable whole, and St. James recalls, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
The rabbis of his time recognized him as a rabbi, as the Catechism explains:
§ 581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi. He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law. Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old … But I say to you …” With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God.”
Mashiakh is His Mission
Rabbi Yeshua was called the Mashiakh, the Anointed One sent to us, more than five hundred times in the New Testament. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” Mt 1:1. “… and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” Mt 1:16. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way” Mt 1:18.
Mashiakh in Hebrew. Christos in Greek, Christ in English. Anointed. And so, he arrived as the Son of David, combining the offices of priest, prophet and king. In the Gospels He was ha-Mashiakh, the Christ, the Anointed.
Isaiah is often called the prophet of the Messiah, or of Christianity. Let us look first at his name, then at his prophecy of the Messiah’s virgin birth, and then that Messiah would be not only a king but also a suffering servant. We can find many examples of kings in the Scriptures, and also many suffering servants. But it is hard even to imagine a man who could be born of a virgin, a king, and a suffering servant all at the same time. When we find such a man he will surely be the Messiah.
Isaiah had foretold, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” Is 11:2. The devout Pharisees and Sadducees who had gathered at the Jordan River would have recognized the Holy Spirit’s descent Mt 3:16 as the sign of anointing Isaiah saw. Rabbi Yeshua confirmed it. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” Lk 4:18.
In Hebrew, “Isaiah” is spelled yod-shin-ayin-yod-hay-vav and pronounced yesha-a-YA-hu. Yesha, spelled yod shin ayin, is the root of yeshua. Ya is God, and hu is he. This word yeshua stands on its own meaning: salvation. In its root form, yesha, it still means salvation but works only as part of a sentence, in this case yod hay vav, a common short form of yod hay vav hay, the revealed name of God which is replaced by the divine title LORD. In Hebrew Isaiah’s name is a two-word sentence: “Salvation God.” English speakers insert the word “is” to understand it as “Salvation is God.” The sequence can be reversed without changing it: “God is salvation.”
The divine title LORD is pronounced in Hebrew as Adonai § 209. The Shma reminds us that Adonai is a plural term, literally meaning “my Lords.” Hebrew has a singular form, Adoni, my Lord, but observant Jews everywhere pray it as Adonai, a subtle sign that the God who is salvation will be trinitarian.
The prophecies accepted by the Jews declared that Messiah would be a king. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until it comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” Gen 49:10. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” Is 9:6.
But especially, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” Zech 9:9–10. Pope Benedict XVI, in Jesus of Nazareth p. 81, observes: “This passage announces a poor king—a king whose rule does not depend on political and military might. His inmost being is humility and meekness before God and men. And a vivid illustration is that he rides on an ass—the mount of the poor, the counter-image of the chariot that he rejects. He is the king of peace—and by God’s power, not his own.”
The Suffering Servant
The prophecies also say he will be a suffering servant.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” Is 53:3–6.
Rabbi Yeshua and Israel
Rabbi Yeshua was an awesome presence. His absolute love and authority reminded His audiences of Israel himself. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40. Behold the multitudes!
Rabbi Yeshua loves his Jewish family. He prayed that, “They may be one even as we are one” Jn 17:11 so much that he will not come again until all Israel, including the Jewish rabbinic authorities, recognize him as their true Mashiakh. § 674: “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by all Israel.” Jewish hearts cry out in the Amidah’s 15th benediction for the arrival of King Mashiakh using the Hebrew word yeshua.
An Objection Overcome
Some rabbis who don’t believe that Rabbi Yeshua was God’s true Messiah express it by including his name with false messiahs, as for instance, the “false messiahs” Jesus of Nazareth, Simon bar Kokhba, Shabbatai Zevi, and Menachem Schneerson. Get over it my friends, it doesn’t work. Perhaps one man in ten thousand knows who Simon bar Kokhba and Shabbatai Zevi were. Rabbi Schneerson is a little better known because he is from our own time and land but, outside the circle of observant Jews, perhaps one man in a thousand knows who he is.
But every man has heard of Jesus Christ. No one else has come with such force that he split all history in two; every event is dated by how many years before or after his arrival it occurred! No one else has ever risen from the dead by his own power after announcing that he would do so Jn 2:19–21! No one else’s birthday is so widely or joyfully celebrated!