Yeshua: My Rav, My King!
Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. (John 1:49)
Nathaniel’s confession parallels that of Simon Peter’s: “You are the Messiah, Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16). Not many words uttered have carried such weight. What was it that Nathaniel and Simon Kefa saw in this man from Natzeret, that such controversial words would come off their lips? And all before He was glorified. Do you speak to Yeshua with this in mind? How often do we address Him as “Rabbi”? as “King of Israel”? Even in His ascended glory, these titles still belong to Him!
Now with respect to Second Temple-era Pharisaic and Sadducean “philosophies” (for that’s what Josephus calls them) it wasn’t a big deal when people would call someone “rabbi,” but it was quite a development when a growing number of Jews were addressing a certain someone as Messiah, Son of God, and King of Israel! And if such titles for Yeshua did not sit well with religious authorities in the first century, while He walked and talked among them, how much more difficult must it be after His resurrection, when we boldy proclaim that He is risen, that He ever lives and is at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us?
אֶחָד הוּא רַבְּכֶם
So Franz Delitzsch rendered the Greek from Matthew 23:8b, and I like it. “Echad is your Rav….” It is not too far fetched to imagine that Yeshua knew the weight of the word echad when speaking among the priests, scribes, and Pharisees. How dare a teacher of flesh and blood intimate identity with the God of the Shema!
There is no doubt that Yeshua’s exclusivist statements made—and still make—many Jews (and of course Gentiles) uncomfortable.
As a result of [these difficult sayings] many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Yeshua said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)
Yeshua is the Holy One. That’s just the way it is. We have no other. Some people, religious and non-religious alike, will take offense. But when sharing with those who have not (yet) believed and confessed His kingship, be it Jew or Gentile, we cannot waver or attempt to conceal or be ashamed of this fact above all facts; no matter what the popular ecumenical, “unity of all religions” agenda says, and no matter how intimidating the subsequent culture of Jewish Torah learning and practice may look. He is the One. He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life”!