"All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the Prophet: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel' (which means, God with us)" (Matthew 1:22-23).
Traditional Christianity views Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Jews.The Gospel of Matthew provides a Jewish perspective to Jesus' life and ministry. It uses several references to the Old Testament to provide "proof" of this, including in Matthew 1:23, which is supposed to be a reference that fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. However, my research has revealed that followers of Judaism do not consider Jesus to be the promised Messiah. This is because he did not fulfill any of the works that were foretold, including rebuilding the temple and establishing a central government.
My understanding is also that Unity does not believe in the explicit divinity of Jesus (since we are all essentially divine), and that he was not the Messiah in the traditional sense. My curiosity, then, is if these understandings are correct, what does this say regarding the credibility of Matthew as a writer, given that the Bible is considered to be the definitive "Word of God" in traditional Christianty?
Also, how does Jesus respond to being called the Messiah, and how does he explain these parallels between the Old and New Testaments, which actually appear to be contradictions of each other?
This is certainly the longest and most complex question I've received—certainly too complex for a brief email response. Let me make several points:
1. I'm not comfortable saying that Unity "does not believe in the explicit divinity of Jesus (since we are all essentially divine)." We're not "essentially divine"—we're divine. Full stop. If there were parts of us that were something other than divine, we would be back in the realm of duality. Jesus was powerful, loving, and unique in his awareness of, and faith in, our true identity as the Christ. Thanks in large part to his guidance, we are achieving the awareness. We fall short—as he consistently teaches—in the depth and expanse of our faith in the Truth we may now understand.
2. It's difficult to reconcile the idea that the Bible, from beginning to end, is the absolute work of God and the many internal inconsistencies and quirky personalities we find as we move from one book to another. Matthew was not writing an "objective history" (nor were Mark, Luke, and John). He was telling the story of Jesus specifically for Jewish readers and Jewish-born followers of the new movement. So he takes care to insert references and quotes from Hebrew scripture at every opportunity. (One example: Moses came to Israel out of Egypt; so Matthew—and only Matthew—sends the infant Jesus into Egypt so he can come from there too.)
3. These references to Jesus as the Messiah promised in Hebrew scripture were written many years after he had left his earthly ministry. There's no suggestion in any of the gospels that Jesus himself ever claimed to be the Messiah. I think it might be said that, if he was aware that others were making the claim on his behalf, he didn't firmly disabuse them of the idea. If the Messiah idea was important to some in the process of claiming our innate Christ Identity, so be it. The elements of the journey weren't ever as important to Jesus as the realization and expression of Truth that is its purpose.