The Expository Files


 

Christ

“Christianity in 12 Words – New Testament Christianity”  Series


 

Christ

“And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am? They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” Luke 9:18-22 [NASB – note: all quotations that follow are from the NASB unless otherwise noted]

It seems logical to begin any study of Christianity with a study of the Christ. One must believe in Christ in order to have a proper relationship with God. John wrote, “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” and “whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 Jn. 5:1, 4). The victory is only for those who properly identify Jesus as the Christ and who serve Him faithfully.

Confusion over the identity of Christ was not just a 1st century issue and problem. Peter was able to identify the Christ because as Jesus said, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you [Peter], but My Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 16:16, 17).  Many today have correctly identified the Christ, but few truly know Him. By examining the scriptures instead of human doctrines and cultural trends we will not only come to have a greater appreciation of the Christ, but will also be better prepared to bring others to Christ so that they too can be blessed by Him.

We will begin our study by defining terms. We will then identify the Christ by considering the evidence that is found in Bible as it relates to the promise of the Christ in prophecy and its fulfillment in the coming of the Christ. We will finally consider the implications of our study for mankind in general and more specifically for those who identify with Christ in the 21st century.


The Christ of God

Jesus is the Christ of God. What does that mean? To begin answering that question we must define the word, “Christ.” The word Christ is from the Greek, Christós, meaning, “anointed.” In the Old Testament, the word “anointed” is the Hebrew word, mashiach.  It is from this word that we get our English word “messiah.”  In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Hebrew Bible), the word Christos was used to translate the Hebrew, mashiach, when used as a title (Dan. 9:25, 26; Ps. 2:2). Since Apostolic times the word Christ with the definite article has been used to identify Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Jewish messiah. New Testament disciples of the Messiah, or Christ, were called Christians for the first time in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Most Jews in the 1st century rejected Jesus as the Messiah. To this day many Jews are still looking for the Lord’s Anointed, the one who will deliver them from their enemies.


Significance of Anointing

The word “anoint” or “anointing” in the Old Testament refers to the practice of anointing, pouring oil over the head of one who had been selected to serve in some fashion.  For example the priests under the Law of Moses were anointed with oil (Ex. 28:41; 29:7).  Kings were also anointed with oil to signify their selection by God to reign over Israel. Samuel anointed Saul as king, “Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, ‘Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance’” (1 Sam. 10:1)?  Elijah anointed Elisha as the prophet to take his place (1 Kings19:16). While the Messiah, Jesus Christ is High Priest, Prophet and King for purpose of this article we will only consider His anointing as King.

The term, Lord’s anointed,” was used as a title used when referring to a king.  When David refused to take an opportunity to kill Saul, who was trying to kill him, David said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed”(1 Sam. 24:6).  On another occasion a man named Shimei was threatened with execution because he had, “cursed the Lord’s anointed,” in this case, King David (2 Sam. 19:21).

 

The Lord’s Anointed in Messianic Prophecies

With respect to the Lord’s anointed in Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament the references speak of an expected deliverer, a royal figure sent by God to bring salvation to His people. This is the Christ that was to come.  This is what Peter understood Jesus to be when he confessed that He was the Christ of God.

The Old Testament is a messianic document from a messianic perspective, to sustain a messianic hope. There are prophecies of a coming Messianic King in each major division of the Old Testament. After Peter healed the lame man (Acts 3:1-9), he spoke concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).  He told them of the sending of Jesus Christ (Acts. 3:20) and the “restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:21) and also that, “all the prophets who have spoken from Samuel and his successors onward, announced these days” (Acts 3:24).

 Jesus told the men on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory? Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:25-27). The prophets spoke of these things, but the Jews did not accept nor did they understand them.  Unbelieving Saul persecuted Christians because he did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, but later he did believe. In fact he used the very same Old Testament scriptures to reason with the Jews, that Jesus was indeed the Christ. In this way we too can come to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).

Let’s take a look at some the more significant messianic scriptures in the Old Testament and then see how they were fulfilled.  In this way we too can come to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).


2 Samuel 7

The Lord made a very important promise to King David concerning a future king. While David planned to build a house for the Lord, the Lord was in fact going to build a house for David. A future king, a descendent of David, would sit on David’s throne and rule in a special kingdom.

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The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Sam. 7:11-13

David’s son, Solomon, was not the descendant of promise.  Neither was the promised descendant found in the line of kings that stretched from Solomon to Jeconiah.  After the kingdom of Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity there never was a descendent of David’s, who sat on the throne until the King of promise, Jesus the Christ.  

On Pentecost, Peter made this point clear when He spoke of Jesus, a descendant of David, in this way. “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:30-32).


Psalm 2

Another important prophecy identifying the Lord’s anointed is found in Psalm 2. Here David wrote concerning the reign of the Lord’s “anointed” (Messiah/Christ).

Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed,” Ps. 2:1, 2

In the New Testament, when Peter and John were threatened and released by the Council for preaching the gospel, they returned to their companions and reported all that the chief priests had said to them (Acts 4:23). They remembered and quoted Psalm 2 as a reminder that the Lord’s anointed would prevail against His enemies. The disciples lifted their voices to the Lord saying, “For truly in the city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,” (Acts 4:24-27).

Jesus was the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ of God and the Son of God.

 

Jesus of Nazareth

These names probably don’t mean anything to you; Asher Lemmlein, Abraham Abulafia, David Alroy, Serene, Moses of Crete, Simon of Peraea, Athronges,  Menahem ben Judah, John of Gischala, Lukuas, Yudghan, Sabbatai Zevi, Goel Ratzon.  This is just a partial list of individuals, who lived between the 1st century and the 21st century that either believed they were the Jewish Messiah, or were believed to be the Messiah by their followers.

Josephus wrote that there were a number of messiahs that arose before the destruction of the Temple promising the overturn of Roman dominance.  Josephus also wrote concerning "…the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ [Messiah], whose name was James."(Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9, 1). Even Jesus, the true claimant, prophesied that there would be “false christs” (Mt. 24:24).

Why is it, that Jesus is the one claimant whose name is most recognized? Why is it, that Christianity that is based on the belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ has existed for 2000 years, but these other men have come and gone virtually unknown? Why is it that there are millions, an estimated one third of the world’s population, who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ? These facts alone do not prove that Jesus is the Christ. Remember that it was heavenly testimony that convinced Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, not human reasoning.
 

Who is the Christ?

Is Jesus of Nazareth the Christ? How can someone living in the 21st century answer that question? Why do they need to answer that question? What are the implications of the answer to that question? It is not just a philosophical or theological exercise to answer the questions, for if the historical Jesus of 1st century Palestine is indeed the Christ the implications are monumentally important to each one of us. 

What did the Messiah mean to Israel? It gave them hope, a basis of faith, a standard of conduct and substance for worship. Does the Messiah mean any less to spiritual Israel? While our hope is not that Christ will come and reign over us, since that is already a reality. We do hope for the day that he will come and spirit us away to our eternal home. But indeed He is the basis of our faith, His righteous life is our example and standard of conduct, and He is the substance of our worship.

It is only through a study of God’s Word that we can come to know that Jesus is the Christ.

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31)

 

We Have Found the Christ

Consider the testimony found in John chapter 1. After Andrew began following Jesus, he came to his brother, Simon Peter, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ)”(Jn. 1:41), and he brought him to Jesus.

·         John 1:1 “the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father.” Remember that John saw the glory of the Lord at the transfiguration along with Peter and James and they heard the Father say, “This is my beloved Son” (Mt. 17:1-8).  In Psalm 2 the Lord’s Anointed is also the Lord’s Son (Ps. 2:7).
 

·         John 1:18 “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.” Some translations have “only begotten Son.” Remember in Psalm 2 the “Anointed” one (Messiah) was also “King” (Ps. 2:6) and “begotten Son” (Ps. 2:7).

 

·         When asked if he was the Christ, John the Baptist confessed that he was not the Christ (Jn. 1:20). John testified that the one who was to come after him who, “has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me” (Jn. 1:15, 30).  John was referring to Christ. Even though Jesus was conceived 6 months after John (Lk. 1:24, 26), John said that Jesus existed before him. Jesus is God the Son, He was in the beginning (Gen. 1) and He is eternal.

 

·         John testified to his disciples that Jesus was the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29, 36) and the Son of God (Jn. 1:34). He also testified that he saw the Spirit descending and remaining on Him (Jesus) after he baptized Him. In this way Jesus was “manifested to Israel” that He was the Christ (Jn. 1:31).
 

·         Two disciples began to follow Jesus (Jn. 1:37) and one of them was Andrew the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew found Peter and said to him, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ)” (Jn. 1:41). Later Peter would confess that Jesus was indeed the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16). This truth was revealed to Peter by the Father who is in heaven and to others through the witness of John (Jn. 6:33-35), the witness of Jesus’ works (Jn. 6:36), the witness of the Father (Jn. 6:37, 38) and the witness of Scripture (Jn. 6:39-47; Ps. 2; Dt. 18:15, 18).

These same things testify today that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. Man can find the Christ today if he will believe the testimony of the Scriptures. We can say to those today who are in need of Christ, “Come, we have found the Messiah/Christ.”

We now call Luke to the stand to give us further evidence that Jesus is the Christ. Luke wrote, “It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Lk. 1:3, 4).  We will consider what Luke had to say because he most definitely believed that Jesus was the Anointed of the Lord and the King spoken of in Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7. We referred earlier to that which Luke wrote in Acts 4, in which the disciples quoted Psalm 2 and indicated that Jesus was the fulfillment of the one “the rulers were gathered together against” (Acts 4:25-27).

 

The Rulers Were Gathered Together Against His Christ

·         The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that the child in her womb would be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God would give Him the “throne of His Father David, and that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom would have no end” (Lk. 1:32-33). This is a clear reference to the covenant made with David, 2 Sam. 7.  Even though the strong of the earth took a stand against the Lord’s Anointed they were no match for Him. “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Ps. 2:4). Concerning the everlasting throne consider also Psalm 89:4, 28, 29, 34-36.

 

·         When the angel appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus he said to them, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”(Lk. 2:11).
 

·         While an infant, Jesus’ parents brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Lk. 2:22). A man named Simeon came in the Spirit into the temple and took the child into his arms and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace… For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Lk. 2:26-30).

 

·         Many years later, when Jesus was grown He came to be baptized of John.  After His baptism, “and while He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him… and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased’” (Lk. 3:21, 22). In the book of Acts, Luke records that Peter told Cornelius; “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). When David was anointed with oil by Samuel, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:13). Here we see a similarity between the anointing with oil when David became king and the anointing of the King of the Davidic promise (2 Sam. 7), Jesus Christ, when He was anointed with the Holy Spirit.

 

·         Immediately following the baptism, Luke gives Jesus’ legal genealogy proving He was a descendent of  David and had a right to the throne promised in 2 Samuel 7  (Lk. 3:23-31).

 

·         In Luke 4 we read that Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him and He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Lk. 4:18; Isa. 61:1).  The promised “anointing” and its result was fulfilled in Jesus. The people of His hometown were unwilling to accept that He was the anointed of God and He rebuked them. They were so outraged with His claim that they wanted to throw Him down a cliff (Lk. 4:30).  In contrast, Luke records in the same chapter that demons who were coming out of those being healed were crying, “You are the Son of God!... because they knew Him to be the Christ” (Lk. 4:41; Js. 2:19).

 

·         In Luke 9, Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God” (Lk. 9:20).

 

·         Jesus entered Jerusalem, a week before His crucifixion. He came as a King riding on the colt of a donkey. “The whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord ;…”( Lk. 19:37, 38; Zech. 9:9).  Here again Luke draws attention to the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Anointed of the Lord, the King, Jesus the Christ.

 

·         Jesus was brought before the Council for examination. They said to Him, “If you are the Christ, tell us” (Lk. 22:67).  We understand that they did not believe He was the Christ, but they were only hoping that He would make the claim so that they might condemn Him. Jesus did not answer their inquiry directly but He did say, “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God,” a reference to Ps. 110. The chief priests and scribes said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” (Luke 22:70).  To which Jesus replied, “Yes, I am.”  The admission that He was the Son of God answered their question about whether He was claiming to be the Christ, as they happily proclaimed to Pilate when they accused Jesus saying, “We found this man… saying that He is the Christ, a King.”  Jesus admission to being the Son of God was an admission of being the Christ, a King.

 

·         Jesus was crucified and the people and the rulers were “sneering at Him saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One” (Lk. 23:35).  The fact that Jesus was hanging on the cross was evidence to them that He could not be the Christ. Even the thief believed that if He were the Christ He would save Himself (Lk. 23:39).

Our final point is that all of these events supported the claim that Jesus was the Christ. The fact that He had to suffer was part of God’s plan for man’s redemption. Jesus corrects the misunderstanding of this point when He appeared after His resurrection to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and later to the apostles.

Was it Not Necessary for the Christ to Suffer?”

Two disciples were on the road to Emmaus following the death, burial and reported resurrection of Jesus. They were, “Talking about all the things which had taken place” (Lk. 24:14).  They were sad because of the turn of events.  Jesus, hiding his identity from them, approached them and inquired about their discussion and why they looked so sad. They wondered how one visiting Jerusalem could be unaware of the events of the last few days. 

They told Jesus, “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Lk. 24:21).  Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist had prophesied concerning the Jews messianic hope (Lk. 1:67-79). Jesus replied, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” (Lk. 24:25, 26)?

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:27). When they recognized that the one who had been speaking to them was Jesus, they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us when He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us” (Lk.  24:32)?

Later Jesus appeared to the Apostles and “Opened their minds to understand the scriptures… that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead the third day” (Lk. 24:45, 46)


Conclusion

The Children of Israel lived in expectation of the coming of the Messiah/Christ.  When He did come few recognized Him and they ended up rejecting their only hope of redemption.  They cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” and the soldiers nailed the Lord’s Anointed to a cross waiting for Him to die. Through His sacrificial death He made it possible for all, Jew and Gentile to be freed from slavery to sin.

Today we must find the Christ and make Him Lord and King of our lives in order to receive the same blessing.  We must live in expectation that He will come to take us to be with Him forever. The evidence is clear.  Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. Who after examining the evidence can deny it?

“But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain… Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindle. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:6, 12).

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

                                “In Christ Alone” - Keith Getty and Stuart Townend 

By Karl Hennecke
From Expository Files 21.1;  January 2014

 

 

 

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