This Week's Gospel Sermons
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November 28, 2010
What is “Messiah”?What did the Jews of Jesus’ day understand about it? What did John record for us of Jesus’ claims about it? These are questions that should be important to everyone. Let us examine the Scripture.
Messiah for the Jews
In Hebrew, it means “anointed one” and the Greek counterpart to “Messiah” is “Christ.” In the Old Testament, it is used as an adjective in regards to the priests who were anointed with oil when consecrated (Leviticus 4:3; 8:12). It is also used as a noun in regard to kings who likewise were anointed with oil (1Samuel 24:6; 2Samuel 2:4).
The concept of specific “anointed one” began very early with the Israelites. Notice what Moses said: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15,17-19). John tell us that clearly the people of Jesus’ day were expecting this prophet (John 1:19-21).
This promise of one whom God would “raise up” continued with King David: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows” (Psalm 45:6-7). He also spoke of the anointed as a king and a priest: “The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies’ … ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:1-4).
Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah continued this line of thought. Isaiah spoke of One who would be Mighty God and a king forever (Isaiah 9:6-7). Micah wrote of One who would be a preexistent king and shepherd (Micah 5:2-4). Jeremiah foretold of One who would be a king and savior (Jeremiah 23:5,6). Zechariah told of One who be a priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:12-13). The people were watching for and expecting this “anointed one.” What did Jesus say?
Jesus and His Claims
John tells us that Jesus claimed to be a prophet, that is, a spokesman for the Father: “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world” (John 8:26,28; 12:49,50). His claim was in fulfillment of the things spoken by Moses — He was the prophet “raised up” that the Jews so eagerly awaited.
Jesus also claimed to be God: “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; see also John 10:33). Isn’t this claim a fulfillment of the things noted spoken by Isaiah and David?
A King with a Kingdom is another claim of Jesus that John records for us. When questioned by Pilate, Jesus responded: “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). He had previously informed Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). This “king” was also eagerly awaited by the Jews — they remembered the things spoken by David, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah.
Now remember the prophesy of Micah concerning the anointed one being a shepherd. Then, what did Jesus say of Himself? “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep … I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15).
Jeremiah told of the anointed one being one who saves. Did Jesus think of Himself in this way? Hear what John records: “And Jesus cried out and said, … I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:44-47). Is this not what the Jews were expecting?
A priest is one who is between man and God. Is not this what Jesus claimed for Himself? “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). The writer of Hebrews uses this claim as an encouragement to all who are children of God (Hebrews 4:14-16). Once again, Jesus’ claim is a fulfillment of the words spoken by David and Zechariah — the very thing for which the Jews waited.
The Importance of “Messiah”
Jesus claimed to fulfill the Messianic expectations. He caused wonder among the people, but so many did not accept that for which they lingered in anticipation. Do we demonstrate by our lives that we really believe Jesus is our Messiah — our Christ?
Do we believe He is our Prophet to whom we are to listen and obey? Do we believe He is our God to whom we are to humbly submit and reverently worship? Do we believe He is our King to whom we grant absolute authority and rule in our lives? Do we believe He is our Shepherd in whom we place our complete trust and find our greatest source of comfort? Do we believe He is our Savior in whom we depend for the salvation of our souls? Do we believe He is our Priest through whom we approach our Heavenly Father in prayer?
Jesus must mean something to us. We must allow Jesus to be all these things in our lives, or how can we really say that we believe Him to be the Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed one? How can we really say we are of God’s family? How can we really expect to have forgiveness and eternal life?
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.
[This approach to this information from the Gospel of John is expounded upon in “That You May Believe” by Homer Hailey]