Please, I am not clobbering Christians, I am addressing a very Jewish King
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The Jewish Messiah
by Skip Moen, D. Phil.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 NASB
No one – The Greek is oudeis. It could hardly be stronger, or clearer. “Not even one, none, nobody, no one.” Or could it? Jonathan Sacks makes an interesting observation about Judaism, without reference to this statement of the Messiah, of course. Sacks writes, “Judaism has a structural peculiarity so perplexing and profound that though its two daughter monotheisms, Christianity and Islam, took much else from it, they did not adopt this: it is a particularist monotheism. It believes in one God but not in one exclusive path to salvation. The god of the Israelites is the God of all mankind, but the demandes [sic] made of the Israelites are not asked of all mankind” (emphasis in the original).
Melchizedek is Sacks example. YHVH is the God of Melchizedek, but Melchizedek is the king of Salem, not part of the covenantal family but still a priest of the Most High God. “Biblical monotheism is not the idea that there is one God and therefore one gateway to His presence. To the contrary, it is the idea that the unity of God is to be found in the diversity of creation” (emphasis in the original).
Just for a moment, pretend that Sacks’ comment is true. Then ask yourself what Yeshua could have meant if Sacks’ comment is true. If Yeshua is Jewish, if he espoused the general understanding of Scripture in the same way that the rabbis and the sages did, and if he saw himself as the embodiment of YHVH’s purposes in the Messiah, then what does his claim mean? How can it be true that no one (oudeis) comes to YHVH except through him?
Christian theology has interpreted this verse as the claim that a “saving knowledge of Jesus” is required in order to experience a restored relationship with the Father. In other words, Christian theology views this statement as an exclusive formula for salvation. It is at the heart of “Jesus is my personal savior” evangelism. But what if it could be read as a Jewish statement? Then what would it mean?
Is the coming of the Messiah YHVH’s ultimate plan for the restoration of humanity? Was this plan always in the mind of the Father as a potential solution to human sin? Is the Messiah given, from eternity in the strategy of the Father, divine commission and authority to complete the rescue operation? Does it matter when human beings discover the grand scheme of the Father? The grand scheme is in place as long as it is the purpose of YHVH. In that sense, no one comes to the Father except through the manifestation of the Father’s plan in the Messiah, even if the person doesn’t know it. Personal knowledge of the Messiah (and subsequent acknowledgement of Yeshua as the Messiah) is not a prerequisite for the purposes of the Father to come to fruition. The role of the Messiah is played out independently of any human being knowing what that role is because the role is the fulfillment of the plan of the Father. It is the Father’s expression, not a required formula of human salvation. What the Messiah accomplishes is to be understood in relation to the Father, not necessarily the human beings who are affected by the manifestation of the Father’s will. Yeshua actually said this when he remarked that he only did what the Father assigned.
Perhaps Sacks can help us solve a puzzling issue. How is Abraham saved? If we read John 14:6 as an evangelical mantra, Abraham falls outside the camp. He didn’t know Yeshua as Messiah. He certainly did not know Yeshua as the Way, the Truth and the Life. So Abraham, who is clearly “saved,” must be saved on the basis of some other means or we must postulate that Yeshua’s forensic clearance is somehow retroactive, reaching back in time to rescue Abraham after Abraham is dead. Christian theology usually chooses the former, that is, Abraham was “saved” by some operation of “works” not grace (which comes through Jesus Christ). The solution is then expanded to all those who followed YHVH prior to the arrival of the Messiah. Jews are saved by “works,” Christians by grace. Presto chango, the theological Continental Divide.
But what if Sacks is right? What if the role of the Messiah, as envisioned by the Father “before the foundation of the world,” has always been the Father’s purpose for deliverance? Wouldn’t that mean that regardless of human perception, all those who seek the Father actually participate in the Father’s Messianic intention? And Abraham is “saved” in exactly the same way you and I are, and everyone else who ever finds his or her way to the Father.
Topical Index: saved, no one, oudeis, John 14:6
 Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 53.
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