Some “Messianic Jews” and other Jewish followers of Yeshua/Jesus reject the Tri-unity of God. This is the main reason why they reject the appellation “Christian” which is simply Greek for “messianic.” unfortunately, “Christian” does carry a lot of baggage, and some garbage as well.
I ask, as a Trinitarian Jew, If Jesus does not share the nature of God, why is he called “Saviour,” and why does he speak and act like THE Saviour? Here is the Jewish view expressed by one of the most passionate converts to Judaism I’ve ever come across: “we are told… by Hashem, that G-d is not a man and that there is no saviour or redeemer besides Him.” (see gila8, comment of 15 May, 2012 at 20:53).
In Isaiah 43:11, we read “even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” Matthew, in the New Testament, writes:
While he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS (Saviour): for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21).
Let us return to Isaiah 43:11, “even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour,” and read verses10 and 12:
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me (Isaiah 43:10).
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God (Isaiah 43:12)
So, the Saviour is also the LORD (Hashem, the Name, G-d).
In Isaiah 48:12, the Saviour LORD is also called the “First and the Last” (Alpha and Omega): “Hearken to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, who was called by Me, I am He, I am first, yea I am last.”
Rashi’s commentary on Isaiah 48:12 does not say anything about the “first and the last,” but focuses on “Israel, who was called by Me: You were called Israel by Me (Gen. 32:29). Jonathan renders: Israel, My summoned one” (Rashi).
(“Servant” in this verse can only refer, as Rashi says, to the “witnesses” (plural), which is “Israel.”The “servant” issue is not the topic here).
In Isaiah 48:12, Rashi stresses the role of Israel in salvation. Christians, in contrast, want to stress the “first and the last” of Isaiah 48:12, because they, as do the writers of the New Testament, want to establish the divinity (that is, ”fully God”) of the Lord Jesus Christ. (“Unitarians” – so-called Christians who reject the Trinity – would deny that the writers of the New Testament were trying to show that Jesus was God. I don’t regard Unitarians as Christians).
Hence we find in the book of Revelation not merely one, but four references to the Jesus as the First and the Last; the Alpha and the Omega.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Jesus, for the Christian, is not only the Son of the “First and the Last” but also the “First and the Last,” hence the doctrine of the trinity (tri-unity) of three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – sharing the same nature/essence. Jesus is absolutely (that is, in essence) God, and relatively (that is in function) the Son. The same pattern obtains with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are three “relations” within the same divine nature.
(By “relative” I mean “relational” and not the sense of “situational” ethics/morality, where one man’s meat is another man’s poisson [fish]).
One can only legitimately find Jesus in the Tanach (Jewish Bible) by seeing it through the lens of the New Testament. Indeed, how could one possibly see Jesus in any of the Tanach unless through the lens of the New Testament. For starters, why would you want to search for something – Jesus, in our example -, that you couldn’t know anything about unless you read about it (in our example, the New Testament)- and believed it. It is silly, therefore, to tell Christians that the right way to discover whether Jesus is in the Jewish Bible is to discount the New Testament and that, instead of working backwards from the “New Testament” to the “Old Testament,” Christians should shovel the NT to the back (of their minds) and start excavating the OT. First, the OT, and last the NT.
Owing to the fact that we can only legitimately find Jesus in the Tanach (or anywhere) by seeing Him through the lens of the New Testament, we should regard any commentaries from Christians on the Tanach in the light of this fact.
In conclusion, I said at the beginning that “Christian” carries a lot of baggage, and some garbage as well. In spite of these encumbrances, it is a glorious appellation.
1 Peter 4:14-16
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Jesus Christ, Saviour Messiah – the First and the Last. Glory to God in the highest.