What Does It Mean That Jesus Is the Messiah?

Aaron D'Anthony Brown

Contributing Author
Published: Dec 20, 2021
What Does It Mean That Jesus Is the Messiah?

He was the humanity for humanity in the past. He’s the hope for humanity going forward.

Messiah. Not a commonly used word, but one that evokes strong sentiment. The term has a religious connotation and suggests someone is one of a kind - a divine kind. Christians know one person as the Messiah. Not a messiah, but the Messiah. The only one. That person is Jesus Christ. Yet, while we may use the word in rare conversations or hear it in a Sunday sermon, not all of us can explain what the word means.

We hear it, we know how to use it, but we don’t know the origin of such a word.

What is a messiah and are there different types?

If we turn to the dictionary, the term messiah is defined as an expected deliverer or a zealous leader dedicated to a cause. Jesus is even the example provided in the dictionary. He was “the promised and expected deliverer of the Jews.” Outside of Christianity, no other mainstream religion in America makes as much use of the word. While there may be other examples to be found in theology across the globe, Jesus is the known Messiah in America, and for good reason. The impact of Jesus is undeniable. The fruits of our country serve as the perfect example. Americans, especially the religious ones, are known for being generous. America is known for its conception of freedom and tolerance. Each of those fruits is a direct result of the Gospel.

Thus, with this definition in mind, we can easily turn to Scripture and understand why Jesus is the messiah. He was an expected deliverer and was a zealous (meaning strongly devoted) figure toward a divine purpose - God’s purpose. Jesus accomplished his assignment and we still feel those effects today.

Why is Jesus the Messiah?

Other religions may talk about their own messiahs, but in the Bible, there is only one. He is indirectly and directly called the Messiah. The evidence supporting this idea first appears in the Old Testament. In it, we read hints of a coming messiah. There are various accounts from different prophets about a person who comes and redeems God’s people. This savior, this redeemer, is very different from the world, but is a man. And though he is a man, He’s also of divine origin. One example can be found in Isaiah 53:

“Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.” (Isaiah 53:10)

Nowhere in this passage is Jesus called messiah or even mentioned by name. Instead, we read an account from the prophet Isaiah about someone who will come to bear the sins of man. There are details about this man being oppressed and slaughtered, but ultimately, what he sets out to do, he accomplishes. And what he accomplishes pleases the Lord.

These words undoubtedly point to Jesus because what the prophecy states here is fulfilled in the New Testament. There are various people who suffer in Scripture, but the suffering that most resembles Isaiah 53 occurs with Jesus. The evidence pointing to this truth is given to us in part by the disciples, those who followed Christ. In the first book of the New Testament, the Book of Matthew, Matthew uses the word "messiah" multiple times. Moreover, he uses messiah as a proper noun:

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17)

Jesus’ predestined birth is complemented by His predestined death on the cross:

“To this very day, I have had help from God, and I stand and testify to both small and great, saying nothing other than what the prophets and Moses said would take place— that the Messiah would suffer, and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23)

His death accomplished God’s predestined purpose. Jesus was the zealous leader who delivered God’s people, all of His people. He bore the sins of mankind.

So why is Jesus the Messiah? Jesus Christ is the Messiah because of God’s will for His people, the Jews, and for the rest of His creation, the Gentiles. God loved humanity so much that in His love, mercy, and grace, He offers forgiveness time and time again. The Jews strayed from the Lord many times, much of that depicted in the Old Testament. When Jesus brought Gentiles into the fold to follow Him, we see too that people didn’t always obey. People mocked, cursed, persecuted Jesus and other Christians. Yet, there was forgiveness to greet people like Paul who would become leaders of the faith. There is forgiveness for people like us as well, all because of Jesus bearing our sins.

Jesus is the Messiah because God willed Him to be. God made Himself flesh to be an example of faith, love, and many other qualities, the same of which He desires from us. There are many figures we can learn from in Scripture, but the Messiah stands above them all:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

3 Reasons to be Grateful for the Messiah

1. Forgiveness of Sins

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1)

Jesus’ sacrifice is one reason to be thankful. He paid the price for our sins, offering Himself in our place. There is no sin too small or too big that God cannot choose to forgive. This truth offers hope to those of us who struggle to forgive ourselves for certain sins.

2. Example of Perfect Faith

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus provided His disciples then on how to have faith, trust in God, and love others. The written accounts of His example are available for us today as well. He lived a life worthy of emulation. He taught lessons worthy of learning. No matter what age we start, there’s plenty to learn from the Messiah.

3. Access to Salvation

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

An eternity in heaven sounds so beautiful. Jesus gives believers access to Heaven. We achieve this by believing in Him, through word and deed. There is no quantity of acts to perform, but rather we are called to act like Jesus. The Messiah will be revealed in us if we walk as He would. Those living life on their own accord are not reflecting Jesus because that is not what He did. He lived out God’s purpose.

What the Good News Means for Christians Today?

Unfortunately, the amount of people who consider themselves Christians has been on a notable decline for some time. This is not good news, but there is reason for hope. As we discuss potential reasons for the decline and possible solutions, whatever we debate, whatever we decide, let us keep our focus on the Messiah. Jesus is our hope. He was the humanity for humanity in the past. He’s the hope for humanity going forward.

He came to redeem us. We should appreciate and make the most of the redemption by emulating His image as best we can. Jesus has fulfilled God’s promise. We need to ensure that we are a continued display of that promise today and all of our days to come. One day we may see Christianity in America rise back to its former glory.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/kevron2001

headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”

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