Meet the Real Jesus: Messiah

Posted: August 3, 2013 in Biblical Theology, Christology, Soteriology

Our culture is full of messianic wistfulness – heroes and antiheroes. Popular culture bears this out. In the last decade, fifty three (American) superhero movies have been released (most based on Marvel or DC comics). In men movies it’s the macho guy who saves the world; in chick flicks it’s the heartthrob who saves the maiden in some way. No matter how democratic we fancy ourselves, we still cheer when a good politician is elected, and complain when a bad one gets in. It is in the human psyche to desire a Messiah; in fact it’s the way we are designed: to rule and be ruled. We are not truly human unless we are depending on God or His Agent for our security, provision and identity.

The Old Testament Jews also had Messianic hopes – not just because of this creational design, but also because of the promises. Across the panorama of the Biblical story is an unfolding, multi-faceted picture of the One in whom the hopes of Israel – and ultimately the Nations – is founded:

  • The seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15 – cf 1 Tim. 2:15) who would crush the serpent’s head;
  • The Prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:14-19) who will lead God’s people into the promised land;
  • The descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12-26) who would bring blessing to all the nations of the earth (the promise repeated, affirmed, clarified at least 16 times in these chapters, and then many times again to Isaac and Jacob after him);
  • The son of David (2 Samuel 7) who would establish the throne forever;
  • The Son-King of Psalm 2 who receives the nations as his inheritance;
  • The Holy One of Psalm 16 who will not see decay or be abandoned to the grave;
  • The Priest-King of Psalm 110 for whom God make his enemies his footstall
  • The Servant of Isaiah (Isaiah 53) who will bring justice by suffering for the sins of the people;
  • The Son of Man of Daniel (Daniel 7) who would establish the victory of God over the raging nations;
  • The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23, Jeremiah (31), Ezekiel (34), Micah (5), Zechariah (13) who will lead and care for His people.

…just to name a few.

All of these pictures make up a composite, a ‘mosaic’ of the Messiah.

Then the man Jesus shows up and embodies all of them in some way in his life and ministry. Some of the images are only first combined in Jesus – eg. the suffering servant and the Son-King at his baptism and transfiguration: ‘This is my Son (Ps 2), with whom I am well pleased’ (Isaiah 53). Different people and groups across Jews and Samaritans were looking for various different figures: Jesus arrives and we see that they are all pointing to Him.

So, how do we speak about Jesus the Messiah (Christ is a title, not a surname)? I wonder how many people, by observing our lives and hearing us speak would conclude that Jesus is our Messiah – not just our ruler, but the One in whom all our hopes, dreams, yearnings and desires find their fulfilment? Would they have a Messianic image? Would they see that He is the one to whom all their superhero-yearnings point?

  1. Jonathan says:

    Yes, we should pray that our own lives are a witness to Christ’s in-dwelling and victory. We are certainly being observed! 🙂 “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” (Moody)

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