The word, Messiah, comes from the Old Testament. It means “anointed one.” Transliterated into the New Testament, Messiah, is Christ.

Jesus, or in Hebrew Jeshua, is the given name for God’s Son born to Mary (Matthew 1:21). Jesus means “savior” or “Yahweh saves.” We should not think of Christ as a family lame or last name like we use names today. When we use the combination Jesus Christ, the Bible is reflecting the given name of God’s Son, Jesus, and his title, Christ or Messiah. Jesus is the anointed One come from God.

Messianic prophecies span the Old Testament.

  • The Messiah would be anointed king (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 2:7-9; Isaiah 9:6-7; 16:5).
  • The Messiah would be anointed priest (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:13).
  • The Messiah would be anointed prophet (Isaiah 61:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:18).
  • The Messiah would be anointed judge (Isaiah 2:4; 11:3-4; Micah 4:3).
  • The Messiah would be anointed servant of God (Isaiah 42:1-4; 52:13-53:12)

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for the Messiah. They longed for the anointed One of God to free them from Roman rule and lead them back to prominence. The problem with the Messianic theology of Jesus’ day was that many were looking only for a political Messiah. Even the disciples were guilty of this perspective (Matthew 16:21-23).

In my previous word of the week posts, we have reflected on the doctrines related to Christology (Christ) and soteriology (salvation). Today’s post about Jesus as Messiah culminates the primary biblical storyline.

Jesus is the theme of the Bible. It is right and accurate to describe Jesus as the centerpiece of salvation history and biblical history. The Old Testament anticipated his coming in the Messianic prophecies. The Old Testament also prefigured his coming through salvation analogies (the Tabernacle and the Temples, the priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Law, and the Kingship).

When we read about Jesus in the New Testament, he fulfilled the prophecies and anticipations of the Old Testament.

  • Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; John 18:37; 19:3).
  • Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 4:14ff).
  • Jesus Christ is the Prophet who speaks God’s Words (John 1:1; Matthew 7:28-29).
  • Jesus Christ is the Judge (John 5:30; Acts 17:31).
  • Jesus Christ is the Servant of God (John 13:1-20; Mark 10:45).
  • Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).
  • Jesus Christ is the Temple where we meet God (Matthew 12:6; 26:61).
  • Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; 1 Peter 2:24).

There is no theme more central to God’s purposes in the Bible than the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

On this special day in Christian liturgy, Good Friday, we should necessarily reflect and meditate on Jesus Christ (Savior and Anointed One).

It is because he is Savior that we celebrate today. It is because he is God’s Lamb slain once for all that we can have forgiveness. It is because he is our Great High Priest that our sins can be atoned. It is because he fulfilled God’s Law that he can take our place. It is because he is King that the powers and authorities (our enemies) are subject to him. It is because he is Judge that our sins are judged and that he is sure to judge the sinfulness of the world. It is because he is God’s Servant who gave himself for us that we can meet God.

None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is. None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is.

The reason that the tragedy of the false accusations, faux trial, injustice, hate, and suffering of Jesus does not negate the goodness of God is that it accomplished God’s plan for salvation. Good Friday is good not because of the injustice, suffering, and hate Jesus experienced, but because Jesus’ experiences bring us the privilege of salvation. Through the person and work of Jesus we can know God.

Our redemption could not have happened unless Jesus Christ faced the terrible tragedies of Good Friday.

It is because of this day, Good Friday, in human and Christian history that we can celebrate salvation.

The entire plan of salvation, from the purpose of God in eternity to its outworking in human history, comes to focus in Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the work of Christ cannot be separated from his person, so what he did and who he is are right at the heart of the biblical message. Christology is the heartbeat of the Christian faith.

Robert Letham, The Work of Christ, 23.

Good Friday encourages us to meditate on Jesus Christ, his person and work. Make some time today to look up the verses above. Consider who Christ is, what he did, and what that means for our redemption.

As the Old Testament anticipated the coming of the Messiah, so Good Friday anticipated the resurrection of the Messiah. Today is a day for contemplation and confession. But it is also a day to rejoice and celebrate the redeeming work of Jesus Christ: Savior and Messiah.

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Today is Monday, March 29, 2021. It is the day after Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday began Jesus’ passion week. On this week of all weeks, Christians should be contemplative and prayerful. 

We should contemplate the lesson of the crowds: populism and politics.

On the first day of passion week, hundreds if not thousands of Jews waved palm branches as Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. Jesus rode on a donkey to symbolize peace. But the crowds longed for a Messiah, a political Savior to rescue them from Roman rule. It is likely that some of the same people who made up the Palm Sunday crowd who celebrated Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem also made up the crowd that jeered for Jesus’ death and the freedom of Barrabas. The crowds teach us to examine our hearts. Do we really want Jesus, the real Jesus? Or do we want a populist, political savior who will give voice to our wishes and whims? 

We should contemplate the lesson of the religious leaders: motives. 

During Jesus’ final week, religious leaders questioned Jesus publicly on a number of occasions. These were not honest questions. First century Jerusalem was a shame/honor culture. And these leaders were attempting to trap/shame Jesus. Yet every question asked, Jesus answered wisely, and ultimately silenced his questioners. The religious leaders teach us to question our motives. Do we really want to honor Jesus in our worship? Or are our outward religious appearances designed to make people think we are better than we really are? 

We should contemplate the lesson of the disciples: fearful unbelief.

During Holy Week, the disciples received some of the greatest teachings of Jesus’ ministry. They watched him curse fig trees (Mark 14), silence religious leaders (Luke 20, especially verse 40), and wash their feet (John 13). They heard Jesus’ discourse on the Holy Spirit, love, the Vine and the branches, unity and his High Priestly prayer (John 13-17). Yet they scattered when Jesus was arrested. They observed as Jesus suffered and died. Having received all the teaching and preparation of Jesus, they still misunderstood his Messianic purpose. The disciples teach us to examine our fears and our faith. Do we want only the Jesus who did miracles and attracted crowds? Or do we want the Jesus who had to suffer and die? Are we afraid of following and trusting the Jesus who suffered and died? 

Passion Week reminds us just how much we can get wrong (the crowds), how much we can miss from insincere motives (the religious leaders), and how our fears can lead to unbelief (the disciples). 

We must be ever grateful that Passion Week culminated in the singular event that redeems us from our sinfulness.

It is precisely because we can discover ourselves in the populism of the crowds, the insincerity of the religious leaders, and the fear of the disciples that we need the Christ who died on the cross.

Take some time to read the passion narratives this week (Matthew 21-28; Mark 11-16; Luke 19-24; John 12-21). Contemplate the characters. Meditate on their motives. 

Then gaze at the crucified Christ. 

Remember that it was for our sins that he suffered and died (1 Peter 3:18). 

Reflect on the power of the cross to give you a new heart, redeem your motives, and build your faith. 

May our reflections this week help us see the real Jesus, the one who convicts, suffers, redeems, and restores. 

Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash