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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Was Jesus the Messiah?

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Was Jesus the Messiah?

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 35

One of the major themes of the Old Testament is the coming of the Messiah, or Deliverer. Was Jesus this promised Messiah? Did He have the necessary credentials? What does the Bible say about this?

A number of observations need to be made.

1. The Messiah Was the Anointed One

The Hebrew word translated Messiah in its verb form literally means, “to anoint.” It refers to the process of consecrating the kings and priests to their office by anointing their heads with oil. The noun form of the word is used to refer to kings, “the Lord’s anointed” We find this use in Second Samuel. It says,

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD’s anointed.” (2 Samuel 19:21 NIV)

The kings of Israel were the Lord’s “anointed.”

2. The Use of the Term in the Old Testament

The term, “anointed” applied particularly to the kings of Israel who served as the Lord’s representatives. This included the first king of Israel, Saul. David questioned an Amalekite who claimed to have killed King Saul:

David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” (2 Samuel 1:14 RSV)

David recognized the position which Saul held. He was the Lord’s anointed.

In some cases, we find that the actual anointing by the Holy Spirit followed the symbolic anointing with oil. Consequently the person became anointed of the Lord in a real and living sense. We read in Samuel,

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1 NIV)

Samuel promised Saul that the Holy Spirit would come upon him. He said,

The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person. (1 Samuel 10:6 HCSB)

The Holy Spirit was there to lead Saul.

The Scripture says that the Spirit of the Lord also came upon David when he was anointed. The Bible says,

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it on David’s head. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13 NLT)

The Spirit came upon King David as He had done upon King Saul.

3. The Word Came to Have a Special Meaning

The term “the Lord’s anointed” came to have a special meaning. It referred to the anointed King who would rule in God’s kingdom upon the earth. The Old Testament contains many references to this King and this kingdom, with Messiah (or the Greek form, “Christ”) being one of the many designations for the King.

4. Jesus Was the Promised Messiah

In Jesus’ day, the term Messiah (or Christ) became synonymous with the King who would rule. That is why we find people asking questions about the Messiah. John the Baptist was asked if he himself were the Christ, to which he replied, “No.”

The people were divided over the issue of Jesus whether or not He was the Christ. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah, and that He had the credentials to back up that claim.

Therefore, Jesus is referred to as the Messiah, or the Christ, because that is the special designation of the promised King who would rule in God’s kingdom. The title eventually became part of His name. He is now referred to as Jesus Christ. By doing so, we give testimony that Jesus is the special King, the anointed one sent from God.

The Messiah Would Bring in a New Age

The Jews saw the Scripture speaking about two ages, this present age and the age to come. When the Messiah would come to the world He would bring the new age. Consequently they were looking for Him as well as the “golden age” which He would bring.

The Claims of Jesus Christ to Being the Promised Messiah

The Scriptures record several instances where Jesus either explicitly or implicitly stated He was the Messiah. They are as follows.

A. Matthew 11:2-5

In Matthew 11, we find Jesus implying that He is the promised Messiah. We read the following account of Jesus’ response to John the Baptist:

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (Matthew 11:2-5 NRSV)

Jesus answered John’s question about His identity by referring to the miraculous deeds He was performing. These were the signs that the Messiah would demonstrate when He came on the scene. In fact, Isaiah 35:5,6 lists healing the blind, deaf and lame as the credentials of the Messiah.

Jesus went beyond that promise by healing the lepers and raising the dead. By stating this to the two messengers, He was clearly indicating that He believed Himself to be the Messiah and had the credentials to prove it.

B. Matthew 16:13-17

The disciples of Jesus had seen Him perform many mighty works, healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching the kingdom of God. However, Jesus had never come right out and directly stated He was the Messiah. It was now time for Him to reveal clearly His true identity. Matthew records it as follows:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17 NKJV)

In this instance we see Peter, speaking for the entire group, confessing Jesus as the Messiah. Instead of rebuking Peter for error, Jesus acknowledges his confession.

Jesus then told Peter that it was the heavenly Father who had revealed this truth to him. In this case we have a clear acknowledgment on the part of Jesus that He believed Himself to be the Promised Messiah.

C. Matthew 26:63-65

During His trial at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, Jesus was falsely accused of many things. The trial climaxed with the high priest questioning Jesus concerning His identity.

Matthew records what transpired during this questioning:

But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say. And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror, shouting, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy.” (Matthew 26:63-65 NLT)

When Jesus confessed in the affirmative that He was the Christ, the high priest accused Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be Israel’s Messiah.

We find that there were no doubts in the minds of the people present that Jesus believed Himself to be the Messiah. Because they did not believe His claim they wanted to put Him to death. His claim was obvious to all.

From these accounts there can be no doubt whatsoever that Jesus believed He was the Messiah, the Promised One, who would reveal God’s truth to humankind.

Summary – Question 35
Was Jesus the Messiah?

Jesus of Nazareth had a number of titles given to Him. Among them is the title “Messiah.” It is important that we understand exactly what is meant by the Messiah.

The word translated “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word “to anoint.” It was used for the anointing of the Hebrew kings. Eventually it took on a special meaning; it referred to the promised Deliverer whom the Lord would send to the people.

The Messiah is thus the “Christ,” the anointed one whom God would send into the world to set up an everlasting kingdom. He would be the King of the Jews.

When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask about Jesus’ identity, Jesus then performed a number of miracles. He then told these disciples to go back to John and tell him what they had seen and heard. What they had seen were the signs the Messiah was to perform.

In a private meeting with His disciples, Jesus asked His them who they thought that He was. Peter confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ. Jesus acknowledged the confession of Peter. However, the public proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah would have to wait for a later time.

Eventually, on Palm Sunday, Jesus acknowledged His identity as the Messiah during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This was the first time that He allowed public worship of Himself as the “Anointed One.”

Jesus then claimed to be the Messiah when He was on trial before the Jewish council. Under oath, He admitted His identity.

Thus, there is no doubt that Jesus Christ believed He was the One whom the Old Testament had promised would come into the world and bring in God’s everlasting kingdom. This kingdom is indeed coming.

Why Was Jesus Called the Son of David? ← Prior Section
If Jesus Was the Messiah, Why Did His People Reject Him? Next Section →
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