TIME WAS RIPE for God to once again step into Jewish history. Many observant Jews, if not most, believed it.
They believed it because of what they read in their Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament.
Prophets several centuries before Jesus had described a future for the Jews that looked very much like the harsh life under Roman occupation. And these prophecies said that God would send an “anointed one” to save them.
Anointed one is a title. It refers to anyone in Bible times selected by God for the special purpose of saving his people. Kings, such as David, were called “anointed ones.” The Hebrew word for this title is Masiah, or Messiah. And the word translating this into the Greek language popular in Jesus’ day is Christos. In English, it’s Christ.
So “Jesus Christ” wasn’t the Savior’s formal name. It was his name and title. Instead of Jesus, PhD, it was Jesus, Messiah.
Jews were praying for Christ to come and expecting him any day. Here are a few prophecies that led them to this belief:
- David’s kingdom is forever. “The Lord declares that he will make a house for you [David]—a dynasty of kings! For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants. . . . Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever” (2 Samuel 7:11–12, 16).
- David’s dynasty will be resurrected. “For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line” (Jeremiah 23:5).
- A child is born. “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. . . . You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. . . . For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity” (Isaiah 9:2, 4–7).
When Jesus arrived, David’s dynasty had been dead for 600 years. But the Jews were expecting a political resurrection. They were in for a surprise. They got a king who said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), and who promised everlasting life in heaven rather than a prosperous life on earth.
Expecting a warrior, they got a pacifist. Expecting a new and improved Israel, they got the Kingdom of God. Expecting freedom from slavery to the Romans, they got freedom from slavery to sin and the judgment that follows.
Most Jews wouldn’t buy it. They couldn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah.
This is why the New Testament Gospel writers worked so hard to make the case for Jesus as Messiah—reporting his godlike miracles along with the many prophecies he fulfilled. The most famous prophecy is about God’s suffering servant, who would die for the sins of others: “The Lord laid on him the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
When asked bluntly if he was the Messiah, Jesus answered, “I Am” (Mark 14:62).
Excerpt from Steve’s new release: Understanding Jesus: A Guide to His Life and Times.