Was Jesus the Messiah?
How do we know that Jesus was the Messiah?
By your question, I assume you understand “who” the Messiah is…
For those who might read this who don’t, let me take a second to explain that, before I answer your specific question.
The Messiah is the Hebrew name for the “anointed one”. The Jewish people had been waiting for the “anointed one”, the Redeemer that God promised them for centuries and foretold through prophecies. All the way back at the time of the Fall (in the Garden of Eden), we had been promised a redeemer (Gen. 3:15). “The Greek name for “anointed one” is Christos or “Christ”.
God’s children had been waiting for the Messiah, to save them from slavery, oppression and destruction. Christ Jesus came to save us from more than that however; He came to set us free from the slavery of sin.
So, to answer your specific question, how we "know" who the Messiah is - the identity of the Messiah is based upon what God tells us through prophecy and the details offered in historical documents/data ("arrows" that exist in the Old Testament). The identity of the Messiah is NOT based upon merely what one person "claims". Cool? Good, keep reading.
There are several places within the 46 Old Testament books that the Messiah (Jesus) was spoken about and when prophecies were given about His life. For those who really knew their Hebrew Scriptures, there was almost a “laundry list” of details to look for. Still, Jesus was not what most of them were expecting.
Even though He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, He was not the “warrior” they were expecting. His message of love and peace was unlike anything they had ever heard. His example of power through suffering was unlike anything they had ever seen.
Still, Jesus fulfilled what the Scriptures had written. In fact, when He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), He spent time explaining the Scriptural prophecies that referred to Him (24:27).
Consider just a few things about a handful of the prophecies:
Isaiah and Micah both wrote about Jesus’ coming, his virgin birth (Is. 7:14) and birthplace (Micah 5:1). Now, that might not strike you as odd. “That’s what prophets do” you might say. Stick with me…
If I were to point out, however, that these two prophets foretold this (by the power of God) over 700 years prior to the Baby Jesus’ birth, would that mean a little bit more to you?
How about some of the other prophecies?
Hosea said that the Messiah (Jesus) would be taken to Egypt. Jesus was taken to Egypt, by Joseph (after the angel’s instructions) as we read about in Matthew 2:14-15).
The question is how Hosea would have known that 760 years before Mary and Joseph mounted the donkey for the escape south to Egypt.
Zechariah foretold that Jesus would ride a donkey into Jerusalem (9:9), be sold out for 30 pieces of silver (11:12), and have His side pierced (12:10). The odds of one being fulfilled is amazing enough, but how about all three? Oh, and how about the fact that Zechariah wrote this over 500 years before Jesus came onto the scene?
Reading the New Testament (or just “knowing” the New Testament story) without knowing or understanding the Old Testament puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to arguments, debates, etc. about the existence of God or the truth of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
Don’t get me wrong – reading the New Testament does not put you at a disadvantage, ever – that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that to fully comprehend the depths of this revelation, that God emptied Himself (Phil. 2:14) and became man in Jesus Christ in the first century, that the Old Testament only strengthens and solidifies the truths of the New Testament all the more.
What’s amazing, though, is that we begin to see (throughout the Old Testament, particularly through the covenants, that God had a plan…a plan that he foretold in Genesis 3:15, and that came to fulfillment in His Son, Jesus.
Jesus is God. That is truth. You can study just the Gospels and see that, regardless of what modern “scholars”, atheists or agnostics try to offer as their “proofs” to the contrary. While a modern reader wouldn’t necessarily “need” the Old Testament to comprehend Christ’s self-proclaimed identity (and proof) as the Messiah, the Old Testament is a HUGE arrow that points the modern reader like you and me (thousands of years later) to all of the things we should look for, to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Messiah (Jesus) had come.
Take some time to work and read back through just a handful of these prophecies from hundreds (even thousands) of years before Jesus was born and you will have your eyes opened, once again, to the “big picture” of salvation history:
Gen 3:15 – the seed of woman will strike at the heel
Gen 49:9-10 – the lion of the tribe of Judah”
Ex 12:6-7 – the lamb slain for us
Ex 12:46 – no bones will be broken
Num 21:8-9 – serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14)
Num 24:17 – a star out of Jacob
Deut 18:15 – a prophet like Moses
Ps 22:7-8 – he will be mocked and insulted
Ps 22:17 – they have pierced my hands and feet
Ps 22:19 – the soldiers casting lots for his coat
Ps 118:22 – he will be the cornerstone
Is 7:14 – a virgin shall conceive and bear a son – Immanuel
Is 11:1-8 – the spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him
Is 40:3 – shouting prepare the way of the Lord
Isaiah 53:4-5 – he will suffer for others
Isaiah 53:7 – like a lamb led to slaughter
Ezek 34:11-12 – he will be the good shepherd
Hosea 11:1 – he will take flight into Egypt
Micah 5:1 – he will be born in Bethlehem
Zech 9:9 – triumphant entry into Jerusalem
Zech 11:12-13 – betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
Zech 12:10 – His body will be pierced, mourning over only son
Everyone of these prophecies (and the hundreds more that exist) are arrows pointing to Jesus. Everyone of these prophets were an arrow pointing to Jesus.
And you, my brothers and sisters, are called to be saints…arrows pointing to Christ, in everything you say and do.
God bless you!
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