Jonathan Ortberg’s book, “Who is this Man?” provides a powerful testimony regarding the impact of Jesus’ life. He says, “Jesus is mysterious not just because of what we don’t know about him, but because of what we do know about him.”
We know he was a compelling figure. He Spoke with authority. As A.T. Wright put it “(Jesus) is so unlike what we know about anybody else that we are forced to ask, as people evidently did at the time, who, then is this?”
That is what the high priest wanted to know when he asked, “Are You the Christ?”
Christ is one of over 200 names, titles and terms ascribed to Jesus. But What does it mean? What is the significance? How did people in Bible times understand it? What does it mean to us?
The Word “Christ”
“Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah. It literally means “the anointed one.” In John 1:41 the two English words are used together when Andrew brought Peter to Jesus and said, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
The Messianic Hope
The Jewish people lived in expectation of the coming Messiah. Walter Kaiser was right when he wrote, “the doctrine of the Messiah in the OT is the heart of the promise-plan of God.” J. Sidlow Baxter put this way: “Eliminate Christ from the Old Testament typologoy, philosophy, prophecy, the whole anticipative structure disintegrates into incohesive fragments. There is scarcely a more illuminating study than to trace the progressive unfolding of the Messianic idea right through the thirty-nine oracles of the Old Testament.”
Imagine if you were a first century Jew looking for the Messiah, who would you be looking for? What ancestry? Where would he be born? How would be live and die?
According to the Old Testament the Messiah (Christ) would come from the seed of David (Amos 9:11-12). He would be born in Bethlehem (Michah 5:2). Would escape to Egypt (Hosea 11:1). Preceded by a forerunner announcing his ministry (Malachi 3;1 Hailed as King upon entering Jerusalem upon a donkey (Zech. 9).Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:1). And be deserted by His scattered disciples (Zech 13:7).
Jesus was the man! He descended from David’s seed (Rom. 1:3), was born in Bethlehem (Lk 2;4-6), and was taken to Egypt by His parents to escape Herod’s wrath (Matt 2:13-14). John the Immerser identified himself as the prophecies forerunner and pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God (ohn 1:19-32). The final week of His life Jesus entered Jerusalem to the chants of “Hosanna in the Highest” (Matt 22:1-11). Judas, one of the 12, betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Lk 22:47). And, at Jesus’ arrest and trial, the disciples all fled!
Then on the darkest Friday in all human history, Jesus was crucified on Calvary. He suffered as the prophets predicted the Messiah would. (Isa 53. Lk 24). Jesus, the Christ, was crucified!
But Friday did not terminate the Messiah’s ministry. In fact, his death became that which germinated the message of salvation through His resurrection from the dead. This, too, was prophesied and fulfilled in Jesus! (Matt 12:39-41)
Jesus’ resurrection and ascension resulted in his coronation as King and fulfilled the Messianic prophecy to sit on David’s throne. Peter affirmed this in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:29-36).
A Misunderstood Hope
The Jews in Jesus’ day misinterpreted the prophecies. They were looking for an earthly Messiah to reign over them. However, Christ came to be a spiritual Messiah. They were looking to restore Israel to its former greatness, but Christ came to establish a spiritual kingdom. The yearned to throw off the yoke of Roman rule, but the Messiah came to release them from the bondage of sin. Unfortunately, many today misunderstand the Messianic mission.
Today we share in the blessings of the Messiah’s reign. We have all spiritual blessings in Christ. We receive redemption and justification in Christ. Through Christ we are sons of God. And Christ offers us freedom from guilt and the condemnation of sin.
Friday’s crucifixion and Sunday’s resurrection confirm the wonderful truth–Jesus is the Christ!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman