They say that the Messiah cannot be God. This is the anthem of most all non-Christians. It proceeds from a viewpoint in which God never manifested himself to his creation as a man. How great of a leap was it for Jesus’ followers to worship him as their God? This question relies on how one believes the first century Jews saw their Messiah. For those who were not apocalyptic, it was easy to dismiss Jesus as a blasphemer, but for those who waited for the final Messiah, the answer was more complicated.
A distinction needs to be made between a messiah and the Messiah. It should be noted that most scholarly types love to bring up the notion of earthly messianic figures. They make the argument that the Jews never looked forward to a divine messiah, but looked for an earthly leader in every generation to free their people and bring justice, but this is only part of the truth. The other truth is that a large number of Jews also looked forward to a final Messiah who would bring in everlasting peace. They were awaiting a prince of peace. If that prince of peace was divine is another matter. The point is still established. It is clear that the Jews had an idea about a final Messiah who was above all other Messiahs and was not just the next generational messianic figure in line.
Clearly, esoteric Jewish ideas painted the final Messiah as an angelic figure and supernatural. There can be at times a vague wondering about certain ideas in the Book of Enoch about whether or not the Messiah is receiving worship, an activity strictly assigned to God alone. The book of Revelation seems to paint a clear picture of a Messiah who receives worship, although some would argue different interpretations. It cannot be denied however that early Christians did in fact worship Jesus, a fact attested to by the Roman Suetonius.
With what seems to be ample evidence of Jesus worship, perhaps we can ask the question again. “How great of a leap was it for Jews to worship their Messiah as their God?” At first glance it seems like a great leap of faith, but some Jews are now willing to admit that God did appear to Abraham in the form of a man. Other Jews continue to hold to other ideas about the Angel of the Lord and whether or not this Angel received worship by the fathers. The point of divergence is in accepting the Angel of the Lord as a manifestation of God in which He appears to Abraham as a man.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and warned him about Sodom and Gomorra He, the Angel of the Lord, was acting as a Messianic figure. He, by his warning, ends up saving Lot’s family from destruction. I only point this out because if one does believe that God actually did manifest Himself as the Angel in the form of a man then one must readily acknowledge God as a Messiah and not just utilizing a messenger. This is a pivotal issue because if indeed a Jewish believer can acknowledge that the Angel of the Lord is a manifestation of God and also a Messianic figure, then they could concede that the Christian idea of Messiah as God is an acceptable belief according to Torah principals. It is not that most Jews could accept this idea, but it is feasible that some could admit that the belief, “Messiah as God” does not contradict Torah, even if they do not personally believe it themselves.