Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah: Part I
Fully God and Fully Man: Introduction
Introduction: The two-part series: Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah addresses Jesus, His Person and word as the centerpiece of God’s plan of redemption. But it is in the context of the Triune God that Jesus, the God-man, is the Christ (Anointed One) and the Messiah (the Sent One). Fully God and fully man He was sent by the Father (John 6:37-43) and anointed by the Holy Spirit who equipped. energized, and led Him in His redemptive task all the way to the cross and beyond (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 3:17; 4:1; Luke 4:1).
Since early Christianity, Christians have referred to Jesus as “Jesus Christ.” The term Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua. It refers to His person. Its derivation is obscure, but it is agreed that it is personal name of the God-man Christ. Christ is the official name for Jesus Christ in His mission. The title “Christ” or “Anointed One” occurs about 350 times in the New Testament. It is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub or smear (something)” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.” It is the English form of the Greek Christos which is a translation of the Hebrew Mashiach meaning anointed one or it is derived from the Hebrew verb masah meaning to smear or to anoint. The biblical idea of the messiah and his work is divinely revealed. It did not originate in human thought.
The messiah was the Lord’s anointed – for God, by God, and to God. The expression had an eschatological significance. It refers to the king of the line of David, ruling in Jerusalem and anointed by the Lord through the priest. However, Isaiah used the term only once and that for the Persian king Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1). The term also had a political significance. The messiah would destroy the world powers and deliver the nation from her enemies and restore her as a nation.
The New Testament conception of the Messiah is developed directly from the teaching in the Old Testament. The essential feature of the Old Testament picture of the Messiah is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s Anointed One prophesied in the Old Testament and in the Hebrew Bible to be the Savior and Deliverer of His people. The Old Testament refers to the anointing of the Lord in Psalms 2:2 and 45:7 and Isaiah 11:2 and 42:1. The New Testament refers to the anointing of the Lord in Acts 4:27 and 10:38. Kings and priests were regularly anointed in the Old Testament and the prophet as well although references to the anointing of prophets are much fewer (1 Kings 19:16; Psalm 105:15; Isaiah 61:1). The anointing represented a transfer of the Holy Spirit to the now consecrated, set-apart person. It was a visible sign of an appointment to an office and of the establishment of a special relationship between the person and God.
Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah, was appointed to His offices of Prophet, Priest, and King from all eternity but historically His anointing took place when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and when He received the Holy Spirit especially at the time of His baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:32; John 1:32; 3:34). As the Messiah, Jesus held a unique and representative position both with regard to mankind and to God. Jesus was and is the Christ (Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:28-30). For the earliest believers this was tantamount to acknowledging that Jesus held a position equal to God. In fact, the unique position of Jesus presented in the New Testament is contrary to all Jewish views.
He did not fit into their preconceived ideas of who and what the messiah was to be like. The first century Jew had the understanding of the messiah as king. This followed on the heels of King David who was one of Israel’s favorite sons. The Jews of Jesus’ day looked for a physical messiah in the line of David. They longed for the glory days of King David. The common conception of Israel centered on physical bondage not spiritual bondage. They had their religion, their position, their laws, and their lawkeeping. Israel wanted relief but not from the bondage of sin, self, and Satan (Luke 4:18-22). They did not need the type of freedom that the true Messiah offered them.
Jesus’ unique Person, position, and work as given in the Gospels were contrary to all Jewish views. The Gospels presented a far different Messiah than what was portrayed in Israelite tradition. That God made Jesus both Lord and Christ was a challenge not only to the Jewish people but to the whole world order (Acts 2:36). The gospels presented a much different picture of the true Messiah than understood and believed by Israel. Jesus was not only the Messiah of Israel, He was Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). These are the only places in the New Testament in which the phrase is found. Moreover, Luke in 2:11 refers to Christ as Savior which explains Isaiah 43:3, 10-11. The Father and Jesus are one – Jesus is God! The Messiah is God! Moreover, Paul equates the Savior with God the Father and Jesus in several places (Titus 1:3-4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). A Messiah who looked like any other Jew and who would and did suffer and die the ignominious death of a cross could not be God let alone Israel’s deliverer (Isaiah 53:3-6). They were wrong and groups who deny the deity of Christ and His divine messiahship are no friends of Jehovah.
1. Review the concept of the Messiah. Who is he throughout history?
2. Christ is the Anointed One of God who fulfills the Triune God’s redemptive purpose of saving a people for God. How do you explain the fact that Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King? Start by explaining the meaning of each term.
3. The Messiah is the Son of Man and the Son of God. This fact brings together Jesus’ humanity and deity and highlights His triumphant, working power and authority. How do these truths help you understand and appreciate God’s work of redemption?
Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah: Part II
Continuing our study: Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah we examine the term. The term “Messiah” appears only twice in the New Testament as an explanation of the Greek word “Christ” and both refer to Jesus (John 1:41; 4:25). By the time Jesus was born, however, a number of passages in the Hebrew Bible were understood to refer to a specific anointed person who would bring about the redemption of Israel, and that person was called “the Christ” (Acts 24-36 especially verses 27, 31). The Samaritans were looking for him (John 4:24). The Jews looked for him and expected him to perform great miracles (John 7:31) He was to be the son of David (Matthew 22:42) and like David, come from Bethlehem (John 7:41-42 ). Even criminals condemned to death on a cross knew about a Christ and asked Jesus if He was that person (Luke 23:39).
Jesus came into the world to accomplish the redemptive task established in eternity past by the Triune God (John 6:37-43). Just as king David was God’s man to establish as kingdom of peace and righteousness, so Jesus was the greater David. He established not only a kingdom and family of God but reigns as the final Prophet, Priest, and King. The word “Christ” is used to identify Jesus of Nazareth as that person whom God anointed to be the redeemer of humanity. It thus often appears as a title in the phrase “Jesus the Christ” (Acts 5:42 ; 9:22 ; 17:3 ) or “the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28). Peter referred to Him as “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 ).
What was Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah, like? One place to consult is the Old Testament especially the book of Isaiah. We find that Matthew 12:18-21 quotes from Isaiah 42:1-4:
v.18: Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations;
v.19: He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
v.20: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out till he leads justice to victory;
v.21: In his name the nations will put their hope.
Matthew’s gospel was primarily to a Jewish audience with the purpose of presenting Jesus as the Kingly and the promised Messiah who was the fulfillment of numerous prophecies. He wrote as a Jew to Jews. He quotes the Old Testament again and again and his book properly follows the book of Malachi. Matthew’s book is firmly rooted in the Old Testament as he brings God’s redemptive purpose and fulfillment to the forefront.
Earlier in the chapter Jesus withdrew from the synagogue where He had healed the man with a shriveled hand. But many followed Him and he “healed all their sick” (12:15). In verses 16-17, Jesus warned them not to make him known and gave the reason: so that the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messiah would be fulfilled. What was the prophecy? It testified to the present and future reality and character of the Messiah. Isaiah described Jesus: One in whom God the Father delights and rejoices in (see Matthew 3:17; 17:5). Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. But Isaiah and Matthew describe more of our Messiah by way of contrast with the religious leaders. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 where He compares Himself as meek and humble (see the blog series: Come to Jesus). Isaiah and Matthew describe Jesus as full of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-4) and beloved of the Father. What a contrast with the Pharisees! Jesus, the Christ and the Messiah was fully God and man and fully equipped to accomplish the work of the Trinity.
As a result, Jesus conducted Himself in an entirely different manner from the religious leaders. In contrast to the self-serving and self-righteous religious leaders, Jesus, the true Servant-King, acted in way contrary to the usual perception of a king by Israel. Israel wanted physical action to remove the country from physical bondage. Israel’s bondage was far greater than the nation imagined or wanted to imagine. Jesus humbled Himself and came to serve rather than to be served (see Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:34-45; 1 Peter 5:1-4). He gave truth in His Person and in His words and deeds. Giving truth was a wonderful and compassionate activity. Matthew although written primarily to Jews, he emphasized another contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders. Matthew quotes Isaiah to indicate that one of Jesus’ purposes for His coming was to bring salvation to Jew and Gentile. Jesus had a mission to the Gentiles and kingdom inclusion as given in verses 18 and 21. God’s people included Gentiles (Matthew 2:10-11, 4:17ff; 12:15-21; 28:16-20). The Pharisees would not recognize Jesus’ mission to the hated Gentiles as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies.
Jesus functioned the way He did because He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was more concerned with pleasing His Father and ministering to the sheep than having glory during His time on earth (John 4:31-34; 10:11-20). He had sheep other than Israel. Jesus was a Burden-lifter in so many ways.
Verse 20 describes the sheep and Christ’s response to them – the manner of His Messianic ministry. Isaiah and Matthew used figurative language to describe the sheep (people) as bruised reeds and smoldering flax. They were miserable, burdened, and heavy-laden as a by-product of the teaching of and the accepting of a false gospel (again see Matthew 11:28-30). The teaching of the Pharisees and its acceptance had “yoked” the people as they tried in vain to present themselves as their own lawkeepers par excellence.
The burden of lawkeeping, especially perfect and perpetual lawkeeping, was a burden that no mere man could carry and gain victory. The sheep were oppressed by the teaching of obtaining self-righteousness through personal lawkeeping. All who move along this path fail miserably and are miserable as a result. They attempt to deceive the Lord as did the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. They only deceive themselves. Paul and Peter pick up this picture of down-trodden people and the Messiah’s type of ministry in 1 Thessalonians.5:14 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. Love of the brethren – one another – is a distinctive mark of the Messiah and his followers. It was a new but old command (John 13:34-35). We must be careful here. Maybe believe that love is allowing the sheep to do their own thing. Saying no and whoa are often the most loving thing the Church and believers can do!
In essence, Jesus had a real concern for people that we might call compassion and tender concern. One can sum up the teaching as described above in one word – love: Matthew 22:37-40.
1. Review the context of Matthew 12:15-21.What do you learn by contrast?
2. What are your thoughts of Christ, God’s Chosen Servant? What are your thoughts of the Pharisees as given in the passages?
3. Read Matthew 20:20-28 and Mark 10:35-45 and answer how they help divine God’s picture of the Messiah.
4. What must you do to consider people bruised reeds and smoldering flax? How will you apply 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and Galatians 6:1-5?