TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  The Messiah’s Identity

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Chapter 11  Part I

The Messiah’s Identity

The OT Scriptures speak of a leader chosen and sent by God to save his people and to reign forever. This leader is known as the “Christ” or the “Messiah” – which are Greek and Hebrew terms respectively, meaning the “anointed” or the “Anointed One”. In NT times the Jews looked forward to the Messiah’s coming and many still do today. But the NT provides compelling evidence that this Messiah was in fact Jesus Christ.

Note that this chapter is in a sense a prologue to the whole of Part C. God and the World: Jesus Christ, as Jesus being the Christ or Messiah undergirds many of the topics.

The Promise of a Messiah in OT Scripture

Note that in addition to the references in this section, there are a number of other OT passages that are understood to refer to the Messiah, many of which appear in the subsections cross-referenced immediately above and at the beginning of some of the following subsections.

The OT Scriptures speak of a coming anointed one of God . . .

Dan 9:25a  [The archangel Gabriel, to Daniel:] So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty–two weeks.  NET

Regarding the “weeks”, many scholars understand the term to denote seven years.

. . . The anointed one would have God’s Spirit

Isa 61:1  [The Messiah:] The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; …  ESV

These words are prophetically attributed to the Messiah.

The OT describes him as a remarkable chosen servant of God

Isa 42:1a  The Lord says, “Here is my servant, whom I strengthen—the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.  GNT

Isa 52:13  [God:] The Lord says: My servant will succeed! He will be given great praise and the highest honors.  CEV

The OT promises that such a one would arise as a great ruler of Israel

Mic 5:2  [God:] As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.  NET

Num 24:17-18  [Balaam:] I see someone who will come some day, someone who will come, but not soon. A star will come from Jacob; a ruler will rise from Israel. He will crush the heads of the Moabites and smash the skulls of the sons of Sheth. 18Edom will be conquered; his enemy Edom will be conquered, but Israel will grow wealthy.  NCV™

This prophecy may have been initially fulfilled in David, but probably primarily or ultimately refers to the promised, divinely appointed leader. It speaks of him crushing renowned enemies of Israel, often used to symbolize her enemies in general.

The OT says the ruler will bring justice and salvation to the nations

Isa 42:3-4  [God:] He will not break off a bent reed or put out a flickering lamp. He will bring lasting justice to all. 4He will not lose hope or courage; he will establish justice on the earth. Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.  GNT

Isa 49:6b  [God, as speaking to the Messiah:] I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.  ESV

The ruler would be a descendant of King David, in accordance with God’s promise to David

Ps 132:11, 17-18  The Lord swore an oath to David. This is a truth he will not take back: “I will set one of your own descendants on your throne.17There I will make a horn sprout up for David. I will prepare a lamp for my anointed one. 18I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on my anointed one will shine.”  GW

The “horn” and “lamp” (v. 17) speak of the strength (“horn”) and continuation (“lamp”) of David’s dynasty, and would be embodied by the Messiah.

The OT also says that he would suffer and die, for people’s sins – but then be raised and exalted

Isa 53:5-6  He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds. 6We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the Lord has laid all our sins on him.  GW

Isa 53:10-12  But it was the Lord who decided to crush him and make him suffer. The Lord made his life a penalty offering, but he will still see his descendants and live a long life. He will complete the things the Lord wants him to do. 11“After his soul suffers many things, he will see life and be satisfied. My good servant will make many people right with God; he will carry away their sins. 12For this reason I [God] will make him a great man among people, and he will share in all things with those who are strong. He willingly gave his life and was treated like a criminal. But he carried away the sins of many people and asked forgiveness for those who sinned.”  NCV™

These verses speak in part of God raising his messianic servant to life, following his death. The term “his descendants” (v. 10b) is understood to refer to the messianic servant’s spiritual descendants – those who would be given life through him. Note that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 has been called “the gospel in the OT” and is quoted in the NT more than any other OT passage.

 Questions for Section A

Jesus Is the Promised Messiah

Bear in mind that in his first advent, or coming, Jesus Christ did not come as an all-conquering ruler, which is how the Messiah is depicted in much of OT messianic prophecy. The NT indicates that this aspect of messianic prophecy will be fulfilled on Jesus Christ’s second coming.

Jesus Christ is the one chosen by God

Luke 9:35  Then a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him!”  NET

The voice is considered to be God’s voice, speaking about Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the one anointed by God, with the Holy Spirit . . .

Acts 10:38a  [Peter:] You know that God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.  GW

The descending of the Holy Spirit onto Jesus at his baptism (cf. Matt 3:16-17) was God’s anointing of Jesus for his mission. It is also understood to mark Jesus as the Messiah – the “Anointed One” – and fulfilled OT prophecies that God would bestow his Spirit on the Messiah (cf. Isa 11:2; 42:1; 61:1).

. . . Jesus is the Messiah

Acts 3:19-20  [Peter, to a crowd of largely Jews:] Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus.  NET

The OT Scriptures testify to Jesus being the Messiah, the Christ

Acts 18:28  For with his strong arguments he [Apollos] defeated the Jews in public debates by proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.  GNT

For the OT speaks of the sufferings and resurrection of the Christ as fulfilled in Jesus . . .

Acts 17:2-3  Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, 3explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”  NET

. . . and the OT speaks of the messianic salvation that would come through Jesus Christ

Luke 1:69-70  [Zechariah, speaking of what God had done:] He has raised up a mighty Savior for us in the family of his servant David. 70He made this promise through his holy prophets long ago.  GW

Acts 10:43  About him [Jesus Christ] all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.  NET

Luke 1:69-70 refers to the messianic salvation prophesied in the writings of the prophets (v. 70) as coming through Jesus, who was from the family line of David (v. 69). Acts 10:43 states that the prophets testify that the forgiveness of sins, a key aspect of this salvation, comes through Jesus Christ.

 Questions for Section B

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus

Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which prophecies are spoken of as being fulfilled by Jesus Christ. One is that prophecies or predictions were accomplished or came true in Jesus’ life. The other is that aspects of his life have marked parallels in OT Scripture which they thus fulfill in the sense that they correspond to them and reveal a deeper, more complete meaning in them.

Prophecy fulfilled in Jesus’ birth and early years

Matt 2:1-6  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem 2saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: 6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”  NET

Matt 2:13-15  After they [the wise men] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.” 14Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt. 15He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”  NET

Prophecy fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry

Matt 8:16-17  In the evening the people brought him [Jesus] many who were possessed by demons. He forced the evil spirits out of people with a command and cured everyone who was sick. 17So what the prophet Isaiah had said came true: “He took away our weaknesses and removed our diseases.”  GW

Luke 4:16b-21  He [Jesus, in a synagogue] stood up to read,  17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.”  NET

Jesus’ claim to fulfill the messianic prophecy of one who would be anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s messianic work (vv. 18-19) was supported by his proclamation of the good news of God’s salvation and in his healing works, whereby he liberated people from various kinds of bondage. The release from sin that Jesus would accomplish was a further aspect of his fulfillment of this prophecy.

Prophecy fulfilled in Jesus’ death

John 19:31-37  Then, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an especially important one), the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus, first the one and then the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately. 35And the person who saw it has testified (and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth), so that you also may believe. 36For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” 37And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”  NET

1Pet 2:21-25  [Peter, to believers:] This is, in fact, what you were called to do, because the Messiah also suffered for you and left an example for you to follow in his steps. 22“He never committed a sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23When he was insulted, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he did not threaten but made it his habit to commit the matter to the one who judges fairly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to those sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were like sheep that kept going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  ISV

This passage draws heavily from Isaiah 53, indicative of Jesus having fulfilled what is a monumental messianic prophecy.

Prophecy fulfilled in Jesus’ resurrection

Acts 2:30-32  [Peter:] Therefore, since he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised him with an oath to put one of his descendants on his throne, 31he looked ahead and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ: ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.’ 32It was this very Jesus whom God raised, and of that we are all witnesses.  ISV

“Hades” was a name given to the place of the dead, sometimes translated as “the grave”.

 Questions for Section C

Further Testimony to Jesus Being the Messiah

Jesus’ deeds showed that he is the Messiah, the Christ

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  NET

Jesus himself claimed to be the Christ

John 4:25-26  The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ); “whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”  NET

Jesus’ followers acknowledged him as the Christ . . .

John 1:41, 45  He [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated Christ).45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  NET

. . . and Jesus being the Christ was a central aspect of their teaching

Acts 5:42  And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.  NET

Acts 9:22  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.  ESV

Others also acknowledged Jesus as the Christ

Matt 21:9  The crowds that went ahead of him [Jesus, as he rode into Jerusalem] and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  NET

The crowd was acknowledging Jesus as the Christ, referring to him with messianic expressions in declaring him “the Son of David” and the one “who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Note: The Christ is understood to be the Son of God

Matt 16:16  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  NET

Matt 26:63b  The high priest said to him [Jesus], “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  NET

Bear in mind that here it is the high priest who speaks of the Christ as being the Son of God. As such this correlation is not a uniquely Christian teaching. Note that it appears to be largely based on OT messianic passages where God speaks of the Messiah as his Son (cf. 2Sam 7:11b-14a; Ps 2:6-7; 89:27).

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians