Was Jesus the Promised Messiah?

You are here

Was Jesus the Promised Messiah?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

The answers to these questions will become evident when we examine the concept of the Messiah.

Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning “Anointed One.” Anointing was used to set someone or something apart for a specific purpose. It was used, among other things, to signify that kings had been chosen by God to rule (1 Samuel 15:1 1 Samuel 15:1Samuel also said to Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint you to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore listen you to the voice of the words of the LORD.
American King James Version×
; 1 Samuel 16:12-13 1 Samuel 16:12-13 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and with of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the middle of his brothers: and the Spirit of the LORD came on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
American King James Version×
; 1 Kings 1:34 1 Kings 1:34And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow you with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.
American King James Version×
). Christ means “Anointed One” in Greek, the language in which the New Testament has been preserved for us—the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. The two terms mean the same thing (John 1:41 John 1:41He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
American King James Version×
; John 4:25 John 4:25The woman said to him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
American King James Version×
).

The Hebrews understood that their Scriptures contained many prophecies of a divinely appointed ruler who would restore the glory and grandeur of the kingdom of Israel. For example, Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
American King James Version×
says: “. . . The government will be upon His shoulder . . . Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever . . .”

Jeremiah 23:5-6 Jeremiah 23:5-6 5 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
American King James Version×
adds: “ ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

After the kingdom of Israel and the nation of Judah were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon, respectively, the Israelite people looked to these promises for a deliverer. In the first century after Christ, the Jews who had returned to their homeland from Babylon several centuries earlier were dominated by the Roman Empire. In their oppression they prayed and hoped for the appearance of the promised Messiah, a conquering king who would deliver them from their Roman overlords and restore Israel to national greatness.

From many prophecies they deduced, correctly, that the Messiah was soon to appear. Hopes ran high. When John the Baptist came on the scene, some thought he might be the Messiah. Scripture tells us that “the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ [Messiah] or not” (Luke 3:15 Luke 3:15And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
American King James Version×
).

John said he was not the Messiah, but he did point people to Jesus of Nazareth. One of John’s followers, a fisherman named Andrew, immediately believed in Jesus. “He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ)’” (John 1:40-41 John 1:40-41 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
American King James Version×
). Both Andrew and Simon (Peter) became followers of Jesus.

Jesus acknowledged that He was the long-awaited Messiah in a conversation with a Samaritan woman. “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’ ” (John 4:25-26 John 4:25-26 25 The woman said to him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus said to her, I that speak to you am he.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus also acknowledged that He was the Messiah at His trial. “And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ But He kept silent andanswered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’ ” (Mark 14:60-62 Mark 14:60-62 60 And the high priest stood up in the middle, and asked Jesus, saying, Answer you nothing? what is it which these witness against you? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus knew that He was born to reign as a king. When the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, questioned Him before His crucifixion, Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked Jesus if He were indeed a king. Jesus responded: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:36-37 John 18:36-37 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
American King James Version×
).

That Jesus’ kingdom was not for that time was misunderstood by most of His followers. They had hoped and assumed that Jesus Christ would lead a popular uprising that would throw off the hated Romans and establish a new political entity. Some of the disciples even argued among themselves as to who among them would hold the primary positions in the new government (Matthew 20:20-21 Matthew 20:20-21 20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said to her, What will you? She said to him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom.
American King James Version×
; Luke 9:46 Luke 9:46Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
American King James Version×
; Luke 22:24 Luke 22:24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
American King James Version×
).

Their understanding was limited. They didn’t realize that Christ must first come to suffer and die for the sins of mankind and only later come as the conquering king they expected.

When Jesus was tried and executed, they were bewildered and dismayed. Their hopes and dreams of power and grandeur were dashed. Peter and some of the other disciples returned to their old occupations as fishermen (John 21:1-3 John 21:1-3 1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with you. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
American King James Version×
).

Even after Jesus appeared to them again, they still didn’t understand. They still thought Christ would establish the Kingdom of God immediately. Notice Acts 1:6-8 Acts 1:6-8 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power. 8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
American King James Version×
: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”

Jesus explained that the timing of that kingdom should not be their primary concern; indeed they would not know when it would be established. Their focus, Christ said, should be on the work He had assigned them. The Kingdom of God would be established in due time.

Finally they understood. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the promised Messiah, but first He had to suffer and die for their sins. Later He would come as conquering king to establish the Kingdom of God.

Peter proudly proclaimed the wonderful truth that Jesus was the Messiah: “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:18-21 Acts 3:18-21 18 But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled. 19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
American King James Version×
).

The dozens of prophecies recorded by the prophets about a Messiah—prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ—are among the strongest proofs that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Many nonbiblical writings are revered by the many religions claiming to be holy and divinely inspired. But none of the other writings can foretell the future, and then, hundreds of years later, provide a record of exactly how those prophecies came to pass.

This is, in essence, the story of the four Gospels. They recall the Old Testament prophecies and show how Jesus Christ fulfilled them as the Messiah born of a virgin and the divine Teacher who would be put to death to make it possible for us to receive forgiveness for our sins.

The Gospels also speak of His resurrection and ultimate return to earth as conquering King. That is the message of the Gospels—that Jesus Christ was the Messiah who is prophesied throughout the Old Testament.

One version of the New Testament, the Jewish New Testament, lists 52 prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s first coming (1989, pp. xxv-xxix). Estimates of the total number of prophecies about the Messiah range into the hundreds. Both Old and New Testament testify that Jesus was and is the true Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was sent from God and will come again to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.