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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Was Jesus the Messiah?

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Don Stewart

One of the major themes of the Old Testament is the coming of the Messiah, or Deliverer. 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" (2 Samuel 19:21).

He Was The Lord's Representative

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 asked him, "Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?" (2 Samuel 1:14).

In some cases the actual anointing by the Holy Spirit followed the symbolic anointing. Consequently the person became anointed of the Lord in a real and living sense.

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).

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

The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person (1 Samuel 10:6).

The Spirit of the Lord came upon David when he was anointed.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah (1 Samuel 16:13).

The Word Had A Special Meaning

The term "the Lord's anointed" also had 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 designations for the King.

Jesus Was The King

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 He 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 Scripture Spoke Of Two Ages

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.


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

Matthew 11:2-5

In Matthew 11 we find Jesus implying that He is the promised Messiah.

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'

Jesus answered John by referring to the miraculous deeds He was performing. These were the signs that the Messiah would demonstrate. 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.

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 not time for Him to reveal clearly His true identity.

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?' And 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.'

In this instance we see Peter confessing Jesus as the Messiah. Instead of rebuking Peter for error, Jesus agreed with 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.

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.

And the high priest answered and said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God that you tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his clothes saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard his blasphemy!'

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. 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.

There Was No Doubt About Jesus' Belief

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.


The Old Testament predicted the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah is 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 Jesus asked His disciples whom they thought that He was Peter confessed Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus acknowledged Peters' confession. Jesus also claimed to be the Messiah when He was on trial before the Jewish council. There is no doubt that he believed he was the One whom the Old Testament had promised would come.

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