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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Easter 2020 was different, but have you ever wondered why it is that we celebrate Easter at all?

Do you realize as Christians we revere the execution of our Savior? We celebrate because our God died. Jesus gave up his life on a Roman cross because of the hatred of Jewish religious leaders for the sins of the entire world. But Jesus’ death was not the end. Had not the resurrection occurred, Jesus would have been just another criminal executed under the rule of the Roman Empire. Why is Christianity different?

Christianity is different because of the resurrection. That Jesus rose from the grave after being dead is the tenet of Christian faith. Had not the resurrection happened then I must agree with the apostle Paul that Christianity would be a miserable religion (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Of course we must take the story of the risen Christ on faith, but our faith does not have to be irrational or without evidence. In fact, I believe the resurrection is one of the best attested events in human history. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to share with you some of the main reasons why I believe Jesus rose from the dead. In my theology and apologetics classes, I’ve shared these reasons as evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Why should you know these reasons we can believe in the resurrection?. First, I want you to have confidence that the historical, physical resurrection of Jesus took place. These reasons will build your faith and confidence in God’s Word. Second, I want you to be prepared to share the truth of the gospel confidently, particularly with regard to the story of the resurrection. You might know someone who isn’t sure about Christianity. Maybe you have a friend who shared some reasons why the resurrection can’t possibly be true. Or maybe your friend is looking for some good reasons to believe in the resurrection.

In any case, here are some of the best reasons we can believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. The resurrection best accounts for the empty tomb. Even the religious leaders in Jesus’ own day acknowledged the empty tomb. Remember, they came up with the suggestion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus in the night (Matthew 28:13). An empty tomb suggests that the body of Jesus was not accounted for in his own day.
  2. The body of Jesus has never been accounted for. There are really only a couple of options regarding Jesus’ body. He was buried in a public tomb. His followers and the religious leaders knew where he was, so it is not like Jesus body remains buried somewhere to be discovered by someone else. The religious leaders would not have taken the body. They were responsible for Jesus’ death. They would have wanted to destroy Christianity before it began. They would have produced the body if they could have.
  3. If the disciples took the body, then that means they died for a hoax. A theory that goes all the way back to the New Testament is that the disciples took Jesus’ body and perpetrated the resurrection as a hoax. Not only would this make Christianity the greatest hoax in history, but it does’t square with the historical evidence of Jesus’ followers. The apostles all died as martyrs following lives of preaching the resurrected Christ. Would they have all really gone to their graves for a lie that they perpetrated?
  4. The first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus were not legally able to testify in court. One of the critiques against the veracity of the Gospel accounts is that they were legends that developed over years far removed from the actual events. This would mean that the Gospel writers put their accounts together for theological purposes with the singular aim of convincing readers of their version of Christ. But all of the Gospel accounts identify women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. This makes little sense if the Gospel writers were trying to convince their readers in the court of public opinion. Women could not serve as witnesses in a court of law. In that case, why would the Gospel writers include them in the story? The only reason for including the women in the story is that they were the first witnesses to the resurrection. This is an incidental detail that lends great credibility to the resurrection account.
  5. The drastic change in the disciples validates the resurrection story. At the end of Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples cowered in fear in a locked room. They abandoned Jesus after his arrest. They were afraid. Yet in the book of Acts, they were different. The disciples boldly proclaimed Christ in front of the Jewish religious leaders. Even a persecutor named Paul met the risen Christ in a vision and proclaimed the good news in front of kings and emperors. These men didn’t become rich or powerful. They did not live in luxury. Pain, persecution, and death awaited them. Yet, they embraced their sufferings because they genuinely believed the message they proclaimed: that Jesus rose from the dead.
  6. The rise of Christianity is a powerful witness to the resurrection. Two thousand years later Christianity has more than two billion adherents on earth. People from all walks of life, nationalities, languages, and ideologies have become followers of Jesus. Men and women and boys and girls from all over the world believe that Jesus rose from the dead. More importantly, they have been changed by the Christ they believe in.

You may remain unconvinced of the reality of the resurrection. Sure, there have been other arguments against the resurrection throughout history. And there are other arguments for the resurrection. But here is my concluding thought in this post. The historical, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best explanation for the evidence we do have. If you are a skeptic or unbeliever, then I challenge you to provide credible answers to the evidences we do have.

  • Why is there an empty tomb?
  • Where is the body of Jesus?
  • Why would the disciples die for a hoax?
  • Why would the Gospel writers include women as the first witnesses?
  • What changed the disciples from fear to faith?
  • What explanation exists for the rise of Christianity?

In my opinion, there remains no better answer to these questions than the fact that Jesus rose from the dead as testified in the New Testament. It is the best explanation for the evidence we have.

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