Was Jesus Christ the Messiah?

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Was Jesus Christ the Messiah?

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

Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning “Anointed One.” Anointing was used, among other things, to signify that kings had been chosen by God (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.
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; 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.
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; 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.
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). 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.
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; 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.
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).

A prophesied king and kingdom

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.
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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 Jeremiah 23:5Behold, 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.
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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.”

After the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon, respectively, the Israelite people looked to these promises for a deliverer. In Christ’s day, the descendants of 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 promised Messiah, a conquering king who would deliver them from their Roman overlords and restore Israel to 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;
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).

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.
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). Both Andrew and Simon (Peter) became disciples.

Jesus confirms He is the Messiah

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.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus also acknowledged that He was the Messiah at His trial. “… 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 14:61-62 Mark 14:61-62 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.
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).

Jesus knew that He was born to be a king. When Pontius Pilate questioned Him before His crucifixion, he 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 …” (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.
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).

The disciples’ misunderstanding

That Jesus’ kingdom was not for that time was misunderstood by most of His followers. They had assumed that Jesus Christ would lead a popular uprising that would throw off the Romans and establish a new political entity. Among themselves, some of the disciples even argued at times 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.
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; Luke 9:46 Luke 9:46Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
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; Luke 22:24 Luke 22:24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
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).

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 would come as the conquering king they expected.

When Jesus was tried and executed, they were dismayed. Their hopes and dreams of power 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.
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).

Even after Jesus appeared to them again, they still didn’t understand. They still hoped Christ would establish the Kingdom of God then. 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.
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: “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 a conquering king to establish the Kingdom of God.

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. The four Gospels recall the Old Testament prophecies and show how Jesus Christ fulfilled them .

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. To learn more about Jesus’ role, request the free booklet Who Is God?