Jesus as Messiah Refs
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 “Messiah” and “Christ” are Hebrew and Greek words which both mean “anointed”. Both are titles that apply to Jesus because he was anointed by God to take the central role in his plan for the salvation of mankind. Yet even though the Jews of Jesus’ day were longing for their Messiah to arrive, they did not recognise him when he came. This chapter examines why.

Luke 24:13–32

When Jesus was arrested, illegally tried, condemned to death and executed in the most degrading and horrible way, his disciples were totally devastated; their world was destroyed. Despite the fact that Jesus had told them clearly on several occasions that he was to be killed, they were not expecting this awful end to their relationship with their beloved master. “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (v21) said the disciple on the way to Emmaus a few days later. It took a further explanation from the resurrected Jesus to set things straight.

1. Did the two disciples in this passage believe that Jesus, who as far as they knew was dead, was really the Messiah (Christ)? Had their opinion changed?
2. Why did they fail to understand the role of the Christ before this discussion with Jesus, when it seemed so clear after his explanation on the way to Emmaus?
3. What are some of the passages from “Moses and all the prophets” (v27) that Jesus might have used to show how the Christ had to suffer? Are they obvious?

Why did Jesus’ own disciples, as well as virtually every other Jew of the day, completely miss the point of what the Messiah was to do? The answer lies in two different aspects of Messiah’s work: both are essential to God’s plan; only one was identi?ed by the Jews.

The popular view of Messiah: the liberating king
The actual references to “Messiah” or the anointed one in the Old Testament are few, but many passages were understood to refer to this leader to come.
Daniel 9:25 KJV The prophet Daniel spoke of “Messiah the Prince”. King David in several Psalms refers
to the Lord’s anointed.
e.g. Psalm 2:2 Anointing with oil was the outward demonstration of a king’s ascension to the throne, or of a priest’s or prophet’s commissioning for the work of God. To speak of someone as “God’s anointed” implied these roles.

There are also many references to a king who would rule wisely and justly over an extensive kingdom. To the Jews of Jesus’
time, the Messiah would come as a conquering king, defeating the Romans and restoring the glories of the ancient kingdom of
Israel. He would sit on King David’s throne and usher in a time of prosperity and righteousness. This gave the common people
great hope.

This picture of the Messiah as king is quite correct—God’s kingdom will be established with Jesus as king, reigning from Jerusalem over a world at peace. The confusion arose because nobody realised that before the crown there had to come the
cross.

The forgotten view of Messiah: the suffering servant
The prophet Isaiah paints the most detailed picture of this aspect of the Messiah’s work. He is portrayed as a lamb going to the slaughter, a man quietly and willingly suffering in obedience to God himself.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3–5)

This concept was utterly foreign to the Jews of Jesus’ day, both the common people and the religious leaders. Peter, Jesus’
most outspoken disciple, rejected it vehemently.
Matthew 16:21–23 Many early followers of Jesus lost interest in him when he continued to talk about suffering and self-denial rather than overthrowing the Roman oppressors.

Messiah/anointed in the Old Testament:
Psalm 2:2; 45:7; 89:20; Isaiah 61:1–3; Daniel 9:24–26.
The suffering Messiah:
Psalm 22:1–21; Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10.
The coming king:
2 Samuel 7:12–16; Psalm 72; Jeremiah 23:5–6; 30:8–9; Ezekiel 37:24–25; Micah 5:2–4; Zechariah 9:9–10; Matthew 2:2.
Christ in the New Testament:
Matthew 2:4; 22:41–45; Mark 15:32; Luke 2:11; John 1:41; 4:25–26; 7:26–31; Acts 2:29–36; 9:20–22; 26:22–23.
The Lamb of God:
John 1:29,36; Acts 8:32–35; 1 Peter 1:18–21; Revelation 5:5–12.

Reconciling the two views: God’s master plan
The Messiah was to bring together many themes from the Old Testament scriptures. God’s plan required a perfect human being who would willingly die as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. By faith in him, the way to God was opened up and forgiveness was made available. Then people could be counted as righteous by having faith that Jesus died for the forgiveness of their sins and so be given eternal life.

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)

Much of the Law of Moses concerning sacrifices and worship was a parable or pattern pointing forward to the work of Christ. Christ now acts as a high priest for those who accept his saving grace; he mediates with the Father on our behalf and helps to make our characters more like his. When he returns to earth he will judge the living and the dead.. He will establish the kingdom of God and rule from Jerusalem with those he has saved from sin and death. This will fulfil all of the prophecies concerning the Messiah/Christ/King/Prophet/Servant/Lamb.

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

The complete picture was not understood by Jesus’ followers until after his death and resurrection. Cleopas and his com-Luke 24:13–35 panion on the Emmaus road appear to have been the first to understand the role of Jesus as the Christ. Subsequently the apostles’ preaching to the Jews and later to the Gentiles was concerned with ensuring everyone understood the purpose of God through his son.

As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ”, he said. (Acts 17:2–3)

Because we have access to the complete Bible, we can read the Old Testament prophecies and descriptions of Jesus the Messiah and the New Testament gospel accounts of his life and work and the comments by the apostles linking the two together. We should be most thankful to God that we have this privilege. Let us take full advantage of it to understand and embrace the salvation Jesus offers.


• “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean “anointed” and are titles given to the promised righteous king. That king is Jesus.
• Before the Christ could assume his role as king, he first had to suffer and die for the sins of the world and be raised from the dead to act as mediator and giver of grace to those who believe on him. Many did not recognise the need for Messiah to suffer and die until Jesus died and rose again.
• God’s plan relating to Jesus as Messiah will be completed when Jesus returns to earth as king.


1. The Old Testament does not make many references to the actual word “Messiah” or “anointed” yet there are lots of references in the New Testament to “the Christ”. How else is this anointed one described? How do we know they are all referring to the same person?
2. The Jews in the time of Jesus knew their Old Testament scriptures very well. Why did they miss the need for the Messiah to suffer, only recognizing the kingship? Answer this from the perspective of both the religious leaders (scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) and the disciples of Jesus.
3. In Matthew 22:41–46, Jesus may appear to be arguing that the Christ is t the son (descendant) of David. Is this what he is really saying? If not, what is the point he is making?
4. Briefy outline God’s plan for the salvation of mankind from the first sin in Eden through to the kingdom of God on earth. How is the Messiah (Jesus) the key to this plan?


1. Construct an argument from Old Testament scripture such as might have been used by Peter or Paul when speaking to Jews, to prove that Jesus is the Christ.
2. In Luke 24 Jesus used “Moses and all the prophets” to show that the Christ had to suffer before being glori?ed. What passages might he have referred to in the first five books of the Bible (the books of Moses)? What passages from the prophets might he have referred to?
3. What is the position of modern Jews with respect to prophecies of a suffering Messiah? How would you try to convince a Jew looking for the first coming of the Messiah/King that they are really looking to the second coming of Jesus?


• Christ in the Old Testament by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian). 15 pages.
• Thine is the Kingdom by Peter Southgate (published by the Dawn Book Supply, second ed., 1997). Chapter 7.
• A Life of Jesus by Melva Purkis (published by The Christadelphian, 1956). This is a biography of Jesus, and covers many aspects of his role as Messiah, and the difficulty people had in accepting him.


30. Old Testament prophecies of Jesus
32. Jesus: Son of God and Son of Man
35. The sacrifice of Jesus
39. What is Jesus doing now?
42. The return of Jesus
45. The kingdom of God

 
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