No Other Name

Why you must believe in Jesus
How can people hate someone who died for them? After all, the whole world celebrates heroes, people who selflessly “pay the ultimate price” for a noble cause. Countries dedicate entire days to honoring their fallen. So, what makes Jesus of Nazareth an exception?

Christians often ask me why so much tension exists between Christianity and other faiths, particularly Judaism, which rejects the Jew whose very name in Hebrew, Yeshua, means “salvation.”

Sadly, history overflows with accounts of Christians (some true believers, others not) who have persecuted or murdered Jewish people in the name of Christ—even though those actions defy Jesus’ teaching. Not only did Jesus never advocate violence, but He commanded the opposite: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt. 5:44).

Unfortunately, many who profess to follow the Savior ignore His commands. It’s no wonder Jewish people, along with many Gentiles, ask, “Who is this Jesus, and why must anyone believe in Him?”
One reason we must believe comes from the book of Acts: “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (4:12). The other reason comes from Moses.

Jesus and Moses
God gave Moses an astonishing prophecy:

I will raise up for them [Israel] a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him (Dt. 18:18–19).

In other words, God will hold accountable anyone who does not listen to the Israelite Prophet who is like Moses.

Israel was actively looking for that Prophet when Jesus arrived on the scene (Jn. 1:21; 6:14; 7:40; Acts 3:22; 7:37). In fact, when Jesus turned five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed 5,000 men, plus women and children (Mt. 14:17–21), people began to say, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn. 6:14). They probably thought of the miraculous manna their ancestors ate as Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness.

Historically, the Dead Sea scrolls (1QS IX) also acknowledge the Jewish expectation of the Prophet.1

While there are many parallels between Moses and Jesus, the people of Jesus’ day easily would have recognized at least two: (1) the many physical miracles both performed that verified they were sent by God and (2) their unique relationship with the Almighty. In Moses’ case, “The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). In Jesus’ case, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mt. 7:29), declaring, “I and My Father are one” (Jn. 10:30).

Today, it’s easy to see many more parallels. Both:

→ Arose during Israel’s oppression by foreign empires (Egypt in Moses’ day, Rome in Jesus’ day).

→ Were spared from death when evil rulers ordered the slaughter of Jewish infant boys (Ex. 1:22; Mt. 2:16–18).

→ Were called to deliver Israel: Moses, from slavery in Egypt; Jesus, from slavery to sin and death (Isa. 61:1–2; Lk. 4:18; Rom. 8:2).

→ Mediated a covenant between God and Israel. Moses instituted the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai (Ex. 34:27); Jesus instituted the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah the prophet (Jer. 31:31–34; Lk. 22:20; Heb. 8:6—9:15).

→ Knew their nation’s tendency to rebel against God (Num. 11—17; cf. 14:10–12).

→ Experienced the rejection of their own people (Ex. 2:14; Isa. 53:3; Jn. 1:11; Acts 7:35).

Jesus’ Prophecies
Let’s not forget another obvious parallel: Moses and Jesus both accurately predicted Israel’s future and the global Jewish dispersion (Diaspora).

Through Moses, God told the Israelites 3,400 years ago what would happen to them and their land if they forsook Him:

I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation. . . . I will bring the land to desolation. . . . I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. . . . You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up (Lev. 26:31–33, 38).

The LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other . . . and among those nations you shall find no rest . . . but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. In the morning you shall say, “Oh, that it were evening!” And at evening you shall say, “Oh, that it were morning!” because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see (Dt. 28:64–67).

In 1st-century Israel, many thought the Diaspora was ending. They had high expectations the Messiah was coming as a military deliverer to conquer Rome. The return from captivity in Babylon, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the restoration of Jerusalem were seen as signs that Moses’ prediction was being completed. Even the ancient Roman historian Tacitus confirmed that Israel believed its global kingdom was coming soon.2

Israel’s leaders also had a newfound concern for keeping the Mosaic Law, bolstering the belief in the Messiah’s arrival to end the dispersion by regathering the Jewish people. For Jesus to come along and contradict them with the following unpopular prophecy was unthinkable:

There will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Lk. 21:23–24).

Jesus said a coming Diaspora would be the “days of vengeance” (v. 22) that Moses referenced in Leviticus 26:25: “I [God] will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant . . . and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.” Clearly, Jesus knew the future; and He mourned over it (Mt. 23:37–39; Lk. 19:41–44).

All who taught the Diaspora was ending were false prophets. God declared in His Law that Israel’s loss of its land would always be a punishment for Israel’s disobedience (Lev. 26:27–33).

God also held Israel’s leaders accountable because they were false shepherds (Ezek. 34:1–6). In the days of the prophets, God condemned them for causing the people to sin. Later, Jesus excoriated the Pharisees (Hebrew, P’rushim) for doing exactly the same thing. Had Israel’s ancient sages taught truth, Jewish history would be far different today.

What Did Jesus Say?
God said of the Prophet like Moses, “Whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (Dt. 18:19). So, what were some of Jesus’ words for which God will hold everyone accountable?

→ “I am,” when asked by the high priest, “Are You the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Blessed?” (Mk. 14:61–62).

→ “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (Jn. 6:41).

→ “Before Abraham was, I AM” (8:58).

→ “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (10:11).

→ “I and My Father are one” (v. 30).

→ “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (11:25).

→ “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6).

→ “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (v. 9).

→ “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (v. 11).

→ “He who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Lk. 10:16).

Clearly, Jesus claimed to be both God and the Messiah of Israel prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures. He said Isaiah spoke of His death when the prophet wrote, “He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken” (Isa. 53:8) and of His resurrection when he wrote, “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
. . . My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (v. 11).

How can people hate someone who died for them? Probably because sin blinds people to the truth. But God still holds us accountable for heeding the Prophet like Moses. It’s not surprising Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (Jn. 5:46–47).

As Jesus said in John 3:18, “He who believes in [Me] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

There is no other name under heaven that can save us. As followers of Jesus, we plead with everyone everywhere: Repent and believe.

ENDNOTES
      1. Christoph W. Stenschke, “The prophet like Moses (Dt 18:15–22): Some trajectories in the history of interpretation,” Verbum et Ecclesia 42, no. 1 (2021), scielo.org.za (tinyurl.com/CWS-2021).
      2. Tacitus, Annals and Histories, trans. A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb (New York, NY: Knopf, 2009), 618.

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