Understanding Why Jesus is Biblically Recognized as the Messiah (the Light of the world)
Jesus' Messianic Claim
This is adapted from a message I preached in my church. I believe it is important for Christians to know their roots! I also believe that it's important for them to be able to defend their faith intelligently! So here it is:
John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
It is absolutely important to believe in Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah). Why? Because John says that this is what gives life through His name!
But today, it’s so often overlooked that Jesus is the promised Messiah that the Israelites were looking for! One reason for this is because we say “Jesus Christ” not realizing that “Christ” is the Greek term for Messiah! He is the one who not only brought salvation to us gentiles, but also to the Jews who would believe in Him.
Many rabbis say that the Messianic promise was the theme of the Old Testament. Believe it or not, traditional Jews read more messianic hope into the Old Testament than Christians do!
For example, Jewish tradition says that 73 of the 150 Psalms are Messianic.
Most Christians know Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it” But far fewer Christians know that the previous two verses are prophesying of the day the Messiah would be rejected. Here is that verse in context – with verses 22 and 23
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
So you see, it’s not just any day that we rejoice in…but we rejoice in the day that the builders rejected the cornerstone!
Now, we'll look at 18 of Jesus' Messianic qualifications, including some strict prophecies that He fulfilled:
#1 - The Light
Genesis 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Many rabbis still teach that Genesis 1:3 is the first scriptural mention of the Messiah. The Hebrew word for light is “nehorah” and was often said to be a hidden name of the Messiah. Even in Jesus’ day, Rabbis taught that the Messiah would be the light of the world
Isaiah 42:6 “ I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles,
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
So when Jesus stood and made this claim, "I am the light of the world" - His fellow Jews heard more from that statement than most Christians do!
#2 - The Seed Of The Woman
Genesis 3:14, 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
The Messiah had to be born into humanity. He had to be born of a woman. Despite what some cults teach, He could not be an angel.
#3 - A Descendant of Shem
Genesis 9:26,27 And he said: “ Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem, And may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, And may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.”
God did enlarge Japheth, his descendants populated most of Europe, North America and South America…as well as much of Asia! But God promised to dwell in the tents of Shem. Of course, Abraham came from Shem's family line! That is a Messianic promise!
Pay attention here, because it says God was going to dwell in the tents of Shem! That was literally true with the Tabernacle - God dwelt in a tent. But it was also a symbolic prophecy, God Himself would live with the descendants of Shem. (Emmanuel, God with us!)
#4 - A Descendant of Abraham
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said to Abram:“Get out of your country, from your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Galatians 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
Paul said that God's promise to Abraham was the Gospel! When He said, "In you all the nations will be blessed" - He was prophesying about the coming of the Messiah!
Shem had many descendants! They are the Semitic peoples, found mainly in the Middle-East. But out of all people groups that came out of Shem, God specifically chose Abraham's descendants.
Matthew 1:1 The book of the geneology of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham
#5 - A Descendant Of Isaac
Genesis 17:18-21 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”
Genesis 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.
Even though many have tried to claim that the Messiah would be Arabic, the Messianic promise continued through Isaac, not Ishmael.
#6 - A Descendant Of Jacob
Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob (later renamed Israel by God).
Numbers 24:17 “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult”
The Star and Scepter are prophecies of glory and authority of the coming Messiah. And He was going to come through Jacob.
#7 - From the Tribe of Judah
Jacob had 12 sons that later became the 12 tribes of Israel. Judah was his third. As Jacob was blessing/prophesying over his kids, he said this in Genesis 49:10
Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
So, the Messiah couldn't come from any of the other tribes of Israel - He had to be born into Judah!
#8 - He Had To Be Born Before 70 AD
Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh (Literally, "Him to whom it belongs") comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
The Messiah had to be born before Judah lost it's tribal identity. Judah was carried away captive to Babylon in 582 BC, but the Jews still identified with their tribes. We can see that in Ezra and Nehemiah as the exiles were still being separated on tribal ancestry. Even in the time of Jesus, during Roman occupation, the tribe of Judah was still associated with the Judean province. It wasn't until AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem that tribal heritages were lost.
The Messiah could not be born after that! Shiloh - the One that had the right to Judah's scepter - had to have come before it departed with the Roman holocaust.
#9 - From the Family of Jesse
Out of all the families in Judah, God chose the family of Jesse.
Isaiah 11:1-5 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.
Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.
Romans15:12 And again, Isaiah says: “ There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.
It's interesting that God's promised Messiah was also for the Gentiles....
A Theological Problem - the Curse on Jeconiah
Here we have a problem, David’s royal line through Solomon was cursed in Jeremiah 22:24-30
“As I live,” says the LORD, “though Jeconiah[b] the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; 25 and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.
28 “ Is this man Jeconiah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? 29 O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! 30 Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’”
God promised David that the fruit of his body would be on the Messiah’s throne, and then cursed his royal line in Jeconiah…so how could there ever be a Messiah? Sadly, some rabbis have given up and said that because of this, there could never be a Messiah. How tragic!
There is an answer though, and it's in the virgin birth of Jesus
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Follow me here…the legal heir to David’s throne had to come through Solomon, that was the royal lineage. But Solomon’s line was cursed in Jeconiah! So God provided a glorious plan to move around that curse!
Psalm 89: 34,35 My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: his seed (natural descendant) shall endure forever, and his throne (legal heir) as the sun before Me;
Do you see the different lineages? Jesus was physically born from Mary….a descendant of David’s Son Nathan - that was His natural lineage. But Joseph was a descendant of Solomon and Jeconiah! When Joseph adopted Jesus – He made Him the legal heir to the throne as well!
#10 - The Son of David
1 Samuel 16 1-12 Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” But the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed (Hebrew “mashiyach” meaning messiah) is before Him!”
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 8 So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down[b] till he comes here.” 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”
Psalm 89: 34,35 My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me;
Psalm 132:11 The LORD has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body."
This promise to David was so clear to the Jewish people, that the rabbis in Jesus’ day often used the name “David” as another title for the Messiah. Even today, every Jew knows what the term "Son of David" means!
God loved David and promised him that the Messiah, Israel's everlasting King, would come from his descendants.
#11 - Born From A Virgin
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Some Rabbis object to the virgin birth. They claim that the Messiah, the King of Israel could never be an adopted son! But the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 supports the virgin birth! The seed doesn't come from the woman, it comes from the man! So the term "Seed of the woman" gives support to the virgin birth.
Isaiah 9:6 agrees with this:
"For unto us a Child is born, (natural birth) Unto us a Son is given (adoption) ; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
The Messiah had to have a natural birth and an adoption!
#12 - Born in Bethlehem Ephratha
Micah 5:2 “ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
Bethlehem Ephratha - Important because there were two cities in Israel named Bethlehem!
“Though you are little” When Jesus was born, Bethlehem had a mere 4-5 thousand people living in it. In fact Jesus own earthly parents didn’t live there until He was born!
Micah 4:8 And you, O tower of the flock,
The stronghold of the daughter of Zion,
To you shall it come,
Even the former dominion shall come,
The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
Tower of the flock? It just so happens that outside of Bethlehem is the tower “Migdol Eder” meaning the tower of the flock. You see, Bethlehem main economy was raising sheep. Because of its close proximity to Jerusalem, selling sheep for sacrifice was a major source of income!
It just so happened, that in Jesus’ day, the lambs sold as Passover sacrifices were born and raised in Bethlehem! So God's passover Lamb was no different, even being born among the sheep and laid in a manger!
#13 - He'll Be A Prophet
Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear
The Messiah was going to be a prophet. And Jesus certainly fulfilled that! He prophesied in Matthew 24:2 of the destruction of Jerusalem. He prophesied in Matthew 24:4-14 what would happen in the last days - prophesies we're seeing before our very eyes!
He prophesied in John 13:18 of His betrayal by Judas. He prophesied in John 17:12 that Judas was the only one of His disciples that would be lost. He prophesied in John 21:18 that Peter would die a martyr's death!
Jesus, the Messiah was surely recognized as a prophet - even in His day!
#14 - He'll Be A Priest
Psalm 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Messiah was going to be a priest! But wait, He was coming through Judah - not Levi! But according to the Law of Moses, priests had to come through Levi. This is why, according to Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8 - God brought about a New Covenant! With a new covenant, comes a new priesthood!
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
#15 - He'll Be The King
2 Samuel 7:13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever
1 Chronicles 17:14 And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever
God promised Israel that a descendant of David - the Messiah - would reign as king forever. That's why, when the people realized that Jesus was the Messiah in John 6, they were going to make Him king by force!
Jesus responded to this natural view of His kingdom in John 18:36 "Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus said that His kingdom wasn't on earth at that time! We know that it will be when He returns! Right now, His kingdom is in Heaven - and within His people!
What Had To Happen When Messiah Died
1. He was going to be betrayed by a friend
Psalm 41:9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
2. He wouldn’t respond to His accusers
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
3. He was to be lifted up like the bronze serpent
Numbers 21:9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up
4. He was to be pierced through the hands and feet
Psalm 22:16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet
5. Not one of His bones were broken
Psalm 34:20 He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken.
John 19:32,33 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs
6. He would be given gall and vinegar to drink
Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Matthew 27:34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink
7. His attackers would gamble over His clothes
Psalm 22:18 They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.
An impostor would have no control over these things!
#16 - He Would Be Cut Off (Killed)
Daniel 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself
Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
Isaiah 53:3-8 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
Not only was the Messiah going to be killed - but there was a specific reason He would be killed! In His death, the Messiah would bear the "iniquity of us all." It wouldn't be for His own sin, it wasn't going to be an execution of a rebel leader, it wouldn't even be forced on Him! The Messiah was going to lay His life down for His people!
#17 - He Must Be Resurrected
Psalm 16:9-10 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:29-32 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ (The Messiah), that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses
Five hundred people saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion! And apparently they weren’t quiet about it either!
1 Corinthians 15:6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
These five hundred witnesses were so vocal about Jesus' resurrection that everyone knew who they were! They were so well-known among the early church, that it was common knowledge which of them had died already!
Jesus, Messiah - by Chris Tomlin
#18 - Must Perform Specific Miracles Of Healing
Isaiah 35:4-6 Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“ Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute sing.
This passage contains the list of what some call "the signs of the Messiah." These are: the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking and the mute talking. The Gospels record Jesus doing all of these things, and more!
John closed his book with this:
John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (The Messiah), the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John wrote down the miracles that Jesus did to prove to his readers that Jesus is the Messiah!
Understanding that Jesus is the fulfillment of many, many Old Testament prophecies will build and strengthen a believer's trust in the entire Bible. When you have a grasp on how detailed the prophets were as they described Jesus' life and death, you'll be better equipped to defend God's Word from other attacks as well.