I shared a couple of weeks ago that I was working on this topic. I realized that I had gotten sucked into the trap of researching nuggets when in-fact the entirety of the Bible points to Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. So, this won’t be a singular post type of topic; rather, this is the central issue, the basis of our entire faith. I think the distraction was amplified by a desire to really make an impactful post in time for Easter, but thankfully, everything went wrong on many fronts. Thankfully? Yes. Sometimes things have to go wrong, for us to realize we’ve become too wrapped up in our own devices/plans/schemes/agendas. So, let’s get back to the basics of sharing Bible Studies as often as I can find the time, without worrying so much about “making something” of this blog. Forgive me for losing sight so quickly.
Confessions of the Christ
Our first stop will be the Gospel written by John. Please take a moment now to read John Chapter 1 in its entirety. Remember when we talked about the Sin of the Pharisee, we noted that John the Baptist knew what the Pharisees were getting at when they asked him who he was.
John 1:19-20 (ESV) 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
So without hesitation, he makes it clear to them that he is not the Christ. Now, when Jesus does step forward, John introduces Jesus to the people in a way that doesn’t fit with what they were looking for in the Christ:
John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…“
At this time, sacrifices are a regular occurrence at the Temple. How did they miss this introduction as what is clearly a declaration of Jesus being the atoning sacrifice? They didn’t catch it, because they weren’t looking for it. Let us see what they were looking for:
John 1:30-34 (ESV) 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Okay, so here we have a flat-out declaration of Jesus not only being named “The Christ” but now He is plainly declared to be the Son of God. Now, let’s look at the reactions of the early disciples to Him.
John 1:35-51 (ESV) 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Now, when these two disciples of John the Baptist hear Jesus identified as the “Lamb of God”, they understand that He is the One for whom John the Baptist was preparing them. So they follow Jesus. Here, we have the author explaining that the Hebrew word for “Messiah” is synonymous with the Greek word “Christ”. Neither word is actually translated into English, we’ve simply changed the way they are pronounced. They both translate to “Anointed”, and in the specific case of Jesus, “the Anointed One”. For those who might be new to the faith, or for those who simply have never asked, “Christ” isn’t part of Jesus name, it is a title. We notice also that Nathanael’s response to the news of Jesus was regarding Nazareth. Nazareth is never mentioned in the Law or the Prophets. They were expecting the Messiah to come from the Bethlehem, the City of David (where Jesus was born). The Jewsish leaders of the day were looking for a descendant of David. Present-day Judaism still holds to these prophesies as indicators of the “end of days”, having missed their fulfillment in Jesus:
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (ESV) 5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV) 14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”
The prophet Isaiah also prophesied regarding Him in a similar phrasing (naturally, since these are the Words of God, not of men):
Isaiah 11:1-5 (ESV) 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
So we see clearly between the confessions of John the Baptist, and the Prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah, that Jesus came as the atoning sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the Branch of David, who will be called “the Lord is our Righteousness”… this is the Gospel of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. God’s Word is so awesome.
It was not only the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist who were looking for the Christ. As we see in John 4, even the lowly Samaritans where aware of the prophesied Messaiah:
John 4:16-26 (ESV) 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
So awesome. Jesus tells her at the Samaritans (corporate “you”) worship what they do not know. To demonstrate what she does know, she shows us that they, too, were waiting for the Messiah to tell them all things. Samaritans were outsiders. They were of mixed blood and mixed faith, but they looked for the Messiah to come. Praise the Lord God for His faithfulness.
Now then, that we have seen some of what it was the Jews and even the Samaritans were looking for, lets look at Peter’s confession of Jesus.
Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV) 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
This confession is huge. One into which Peter would yet need to grow, but he does by the Grace of God. Notice, that this confession/revelation is not by flesh and blood, but given as a gift from God the Father who is in heaven. This statement bears a strong resemblance to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”
Peter was not alone in having to grow into the understanding of just what it meant to confess Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. Martha had a very hard time of it, too when her brother, Lazarus, died.
John 11:17-27 (ESV) 17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
It is on this note, that I’d like to pause for a moment. We all, must come to faith in Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. The Lamb of God who laid down His life as the perfect atonement for the sin of mankind, for our sins included. This faith comes as a Gift from God, that we might die to sin ourselves, so that in Him we might have everlasting life.
Ephesians 4:1-16 (ESV) 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,and he gave gifts to men.”[Ps 68:18]
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
In Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, through the working of God the Holy Spirit, we are being woven together, fitted together, into one body. I thank God for each of you who do the hard work of discernment in all things, and in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who has is called “the Lord is our righteousness”. We who are in Christ long for the day of His return, to reign forever as King of kings and Lord of lords. Until that day, let do the work the Lord predestined for us to do in Him, so that when the Master returns, He will find His servants hard at work. Study the Scriptures, Preach the Word, and Love your neighbors as yourselves. Amen.