5 Rabbis Explain Jesus
The Penultimate Messiah
Rabbi Byron Sherwin places Jesus in the theological category of a precursor to the ultimate messiah. He serves a similar role as John the Baptist does for Christianity.
As Professor Shaul Magid puts it, “Yitz Greenberg and Byron Sherwin base their writings on Jesus on a more nuanced view of ‘the messiah’ in Judaism that distinguishes between a penultimate and ultimate messianic figure, each serving a crucial role in the messianic process.”
In other words, Jesus emerged out the yearning of first-century Jews for a national and spiritual savior, and his spiritual significance will be fulfilled in the future messianic period.
For Christians this event will be the second coming. For Jews it will be the “first coming,” which had been foreshadowed by Jesus. (This terminology of “first coming” is my language, and is not used by Greenberg or Sherwin. For the sake of brevity, I am summarizing their arguments and leaving out significance nuance that would be appropriate in a scholarly forum. See Zev Garber, ed., The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, 2011)