Matthew Introduction – Part 11: Understanding what it means for Jesus to be the Christ

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Mar 13, 2016

6.3. Understanding what it means for Jesus to be the Christ.

The Old Testament is filled with promises of a coming Christ. And the New Testament – most especially her gospels, are devoted to revealing Jesus as their fulfillment. It is therefore impossible to correctly interpret the Bible’s content without first knowing exactly what this term means. More importantly, it is impossible to be a Christian unless one can confess this to be true of Jesus (1Jo 5:1).

As such, a robust study of this subject was no doubt a part of the apostle’s initial preaching – most especially among the Gentiles who possessed no prior knowledge. Likewise, Christians today should be equipped with a proper understanding of what it means for Jesus to be the Christ.

6.3.1. Claiming Jesus to be the Christ is the same as confessing Him to be the Messiah since the former is simply the Greek equivalent of the latter Hebrew term.

6.3.2. Jesus claims to be the Christ/Messiah.

6.3.3. The word itself (Christ/Messiah) literally means “anointed One” and refers to someone who acts on God’s behalf as a mediator between Himself and human beings[1].

6.3.4. In the Old Testament there are three offices where a person could function as this special anointed mediator: prophet, priest and king. However, they were not roles/careers available to the general public. Rather, such persons had to be directly appointed and authorized by God.

6.3.5. There were many mediators/messiahs throughout Israel’s history.


6.3.6. That being said, only one of the three (offices) served the purpose of bringing people into covenant/saving relationship w/God: the priest. As such, any time there has been the possibility of salvation, there has always been a priestly mediator[2].

6.3.7. However, when the mediators/messiahs (most esp. the priests) disobeyed God by refusing to preserve His Law among the people, God brought His judgment/curses upon the entire covenant community (incl. the removal of His presence among them).

6.3.8. A degree of God’s judgment/curse remained on the Old covenant community from the time of the Babylonian captivity until the time of Jesus. Though the Jews were eventually back in their land (538/9 B.C.), they were in still bondage to the foreign governments (Babylon = 605-575 BC, Medes/Persians = 575-334BC, Greece = 334-30BC, Rome = 30-476AD). (Deu 17:15 w/28:30-59; Dan 2:31-44; e.g. Chaldeans/Babylonians, Persians – 2Ch 36:17-23) Though the priesthood had been re-established (535 B.C.), it was filled with corruption. (Mal 1:6-2:9) Though the Temple had been rebuilt (516 B.C.), there was no ark nor the glorious presence of God. (2Ch 5:1-14 w/Ezr 3:8-12, 6:14-18; also Hag 2:1-3; 1Ch 28:2 w/Lam 2:1)[3]

 “Needless to say, the historical return from exile did not usher in the new heavens and earth, nor was it an exodus to make the previous one out of Egypt pale by comparison. As to the rebuilt house of God, many of the elderly priests, Levites and leaders of Jerusalem wept as they recalled the greater splendors of Solomon’s temple – and most devastating, the glory of YHWH never returned to the second temple. These considerations, along with the manifest lack of renewal in the hearts of the Jewish returnees, served to foster the understanding that Israel was indeed still in exile.” – J. Michael Morales    Though God’s mercy had once more been extended to Israel, it did not bring w/it the promised (or prophesied) messiah who would restore all things. (Neh 8:9-12; Dan 9:1-3 but not Dan 7:1-18) In general, this was the view of the Jews, NT writers – even Jesus, in the first century: the nation remained under God’s judgment. (e.g. Mat 2:16-18 w/Jer 31:1-17; 4:13-16; Luk 1:68-79, 2:25-32, 4:16-22; consider also Paul’s words in Rom 11:26 along w/Isa 59:20)

 6.3.9. The OT Scriptures prophesied the “good news” of a messiah/mediator/deliverer/savior who would bring redemption (as a priest), repentance (as a prophet) and the restoration of God’s kingdom (as a king) through the establishment of a new covenant.

(e.g. Jer 30:1-3, 8-9, 20-22, 31:1, 15-20, 27-37, 32:36-41, 33:6-9, 14-26)

6.3.10. The gospels (including Matthew) represent the historical account (and some of the proof) that Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of this previously prophesied “good news”[4].

[1] Most often, a mediator is required because the parties in question are in opposition to one another. The purpose therefore of such mediation is the construction of a formal agreement/contract that (w/compliance) guarantees peace between the parties (e.g. a peace treaty). This is the reason behind God’s use of a mediator in redemptive history. The Bible calls such peace treaties, “covenants”.  As such mediators could also be referred to as deliverers or saviors (e.g. Isa 59:20).

[2] Adam’s rebellion in Eden and the subsequent fall of humanity into sin has not only severed the initial relationship we shared with God at Creation (Isa 59:1-2), but also caused us to become His personal enemies and the recipients of His wrath (Psa 5:5; Rom 1:18; Eph 2:3). Hence the need for a priestly mediator: one who can make atonement.

[3] Ancient historians Josephus and Tacitus both make mention of the fact that when the conquering Roman general Pompey entered the Hoy holies, he found no ark.

[4] The gospels are not the only inspired literature containing evidence that Jesus was the Christ. This is also the goal of the rest of the NT Scriptures (2Ti 3:15).