Jesus’ messianic self-understanding has been put into question from Bultmann’s day to the present. If he did not think of himself as the Messiah, we would be left with the riddle of a Jesus who never actually said who he claimed to be. However,
Jesus’ reply to the inquiry of John the Baptist in Mt 11,2-6 par is an important clue to his own understanding of his mission. A careful reconsideration of the criteria
for authenticity leads to the conclusion that Jesus claimed to be not simply a prophet announcing the kingdom, but the Messiah who healed and brought good news to the poor, thus doing what in the OT God had promised to do at the end of
time. 4Q521 confirms that ancient Judaism expected this kind of miracle to occur at the time of the Messiah.
Did Jesus call his followers to believe in him? or did he merely call them to believe in God or in the contents of his teaching? This article examines the evidence found in the Synoptic Gospels and discusses its possible Christological implications in light of the Scriptures of Israel and the writings of Second Temple Judaism. If Jesus expected to be the object of his disciples’ faith, his expectation may be understood in light of his redefinition of messiahship. But he may also be seen to have placed himself in the role of God, who was the object of Israel’s faith in the Scriptures of Israel and in Second Temple Judaism.