The Wonder of His NameMessiah
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says there’s a reason we keep looking for new heroes.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: People are looking, they’re always looking for an anointed leader. We want that anointed leader to be human—kind of like us—not too much over us. But we want somebody we can trust, someone we can follow. People look for this in a president; they look for it in a boss; they look for it in a king; they look for it in a husband. They want an anointed leader. But I’m telling you there is only one ultimate anointed leader and that is Jesus.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, March 18.
Nancy’s continuing in the series “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
Nancy: Well, some of the names that we’ve been considering in this series, "The Wonder of His Name," are found in the Scripture only a few times. And some are found only in the New Testament or some only in the Old Testament anticipating the coming of Jesus.
But today we want to look at a name that spans the entire Word of God. Actually, we’re going to be looking at two names that mean the same thing. One is found in the Old Testament and one is found in the New and between these two names they are found nearly 600 times in all of God’s Word.
So let me introduce the name by reading the first verse of the New Testament. Matthew chapter 1, verse 1 says: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” And then we skip down to verse sixteen: “Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”
Now to get this name we are going to have to do a little language study. So put your seatbelt on, and let’s go for this ride.
The word, “Christ” comes from the Greek word, Christos. That sounds like Christ doesn’t it? And that word, Christos is from a verb that means “to anoint.” Christos—to anoint. And that’s the word from which we get our English word “christen.” You’ve heard that word—to anoint, to baptize.
It’s related to Latin term, Caesar. Christos. Caesar. You say, “What do those have in common?” Well, we’re going to see. The German word, “Kaiser” or the Russian word, “Czar.” These are all kind of related words. They have to do with an appointed or anointed leader. And we’re going to see how our human hearts crave a Messiah, a Christ, an appointed leader.
The Old Testament counterpart or equivalent to the New Testament word Christos is a word that in Hebrew is Mashiach. Does that sound like a word in English that you’re familiar with? Messiah. The English word “Messiah” which also means “anointed or anointed one.”
So in the Old Testament Hebrew it’s the word Mashiach, anointed or anointed one. And in the New Testament Greek it’s the word Christos which also means anointed. So when we say “Jesus Christ,” Christ is not His last name. This is part of a title. It’s “Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Anointed One.”
Now, let’s look for a moment at that word, Mashiach, in the Hebrew language. One scholar says that this word is “one of the most important words in the Old Testament.” Another commentator says this word, Mashiach, is “the greatest word in the Hebrew vocabulary.”
Now that word, Mashiach, itself is not found very many times in the Old Testament, unlike the word Christos which is found many times in the New Testament. But this word, Mashiach, expresses a central core concept in Jewish theology. And you see the idea all the way through the Old Testament.
There were priests it the Old Testament, kings, and occasionally prophets who were set apart for God's service by being anointed with oil. They were called “anointed ones”—Mashiach. And that anointing and that word symbolizes that they had been chosen and commissioned by God for a specific office or a specific task, and then they were anointed with oil symbolizing they were filled with God’s Holy Spirit to equip them to carry out that task.
Most often it was kings—a king chosen by God. Do you remember in 1 Samuel where David who was God’s appointed king to be but there was another king still on the throne, Saul? And David again and again refused to take Saul’s life even though Saul rejected the Lord and turned into a crazy man. But David said, “I will not touch God’s anointed one—God’s Mashiach. That’s that word there. This was a serious thing to be God’s anointed one.
Then throughout the Old Testament, God promises that there will be a future leader who will be sent from God, anointed with the Spirit, who will be the ultimate prophet, priest, and king. This King will deliver God’s people; He will establish God’s kingdom; and He will rule the world. And you see these prophecies or glimpses of this concept of a coming Messiah many times throughout the Old Testament.
In fact, there are hundreds of prophecies that we call “Messianic prophecies” that give us bits and pieces of what this Messiah will be like. We’re told for example in Malachi that this Mashiach, this anointed one will be preceded by a messenger who will prepare people for His coming (see Mal. 3:1–2; 4:3–6). We see that the Mashiach, the Messiah will be of the tribe of Judah. He will be a direct descendant of King David. We see that in Isaiah 11 for example (see v. 1). We see in Micah 5 that He will be born in Bethlehem (see v. 2).
We see in Isaiah 7 that He will be born supernaturally of a virgin (see v. 14). We see that He will perform miracles. Isaiah 35 says, “The eyes of the blind will be opened; the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. The lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy” (Isa. 35:5–6). This is a Messianic prophecy.
And then we see in Isaiah 61 that this Mashiach, this Messiah, would “bring good news to the poor . . . [and he would] heal the brokenhearted, and he would set the captives free” (Isa. 61:1).
Then one of the most important Old Testament prophecies about Messiah is found in Daniel chapter 9 where it talks about “the coming of an anointed one” Mashiach in verse 25. And it says he will “put an end to sin . . . He will atone for iniquity . . . and he will bring in everlasting righteousness” (v. 24). That’s a promise of God’s anointed Messiah.
Now here’s the challenge as you read these Messianic prophecies throughout the Old Testament, you see some apparent contradictions. For example, one passage says that he will come in power on the clouds. That’s found in Daniel 7:13. And then another passage in Zechariah says he will come in humility on a donkey (9:9)—both messianic prophecies.
One prophecy says he will rule the nations, but another prophecy says he will be a suffering servant. In fact, he’s going to be despised and rejected by men (Isa. 53:3). He’s going to be betrayed by a friend (Ps. 41:9). He’s going to be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:1). These are all Old Testament prophecies about Messiah.
Daniel 9 says that he will be “cut off” (v. 26). He will be rejected. He will be killed before the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple which took place in A.D. 70. It even gives us a time frame.
The Scripture tells us in the Old Testament that this Messiah will be beaten. He will be spit upon (Isa. 50:6). He will be offered vinegar for His thirst (Ps. 69:21). Isaiah 53 tells us that he would die with criminals (v. 12). And Psalm 22 tells us how He would die more than 300 years before crucifixion was invented as a method of execution. We are told “they pierced my hands and feet”—that He would be crucified before people even knew what crucifixion was (v. 16).
And so we have some of these paradoxical prophecies—hard to put them all together. One commentator says it this way:
Though born to occupy a glorious throne, higher than the kings of the earth, He was yet to be despised and rejected of men. He was to be both rich and poor, both a Priest and a Sacrifice—a King and a Servant—the Lord of Life and yet subject to death—David’s Lord and David’s Son—the Mighty God and the Child Born—the Great I AM and at the same time a "Man."
Now there is only one person who fulfilled all these hundreds of prophecies. His name is Jesus—Mashiach—God’s anointed one proving by fulfilling those prophecies that He was the promised Messiah—the promised anointed prophet, priest, and king.
You may have heard about one mathematician in the twentieth century, Peter Stoner, who calculated the probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the Messianic predictions of the Old Testament. Now there were hundreds of prophecies, but just one person randomly fulfilling eight of those prophecies. He said the chances would be one in 1017. That’s one in a hundred thousand trillion.
Now to help us get a sense of what that humongous number is, that would be like covering state of Texas with one hundred thousand trillion silver dollars, and marking one of them with an “x” on it, and then mixing them all up, blindfolding a man, sending him into the state of Texas and having him randomly pick up the marked silver dollar.1 That’s the probability mathematically of one person fulfilling just eight of those prophecies. Of course Jesus fulfilled them all. He is the Messiah.
Now the Jews were waiting for a Messiah who would perform miraculous signs, who would deliver God’s people, who would meet their physical needs, and who would live and reign forever. But under the oppression of the Romans, the Jews developed this expectation that the Messiah would be a political leader, a military hero who would overthrow the hated Roman government, and would deliver them from political tyranny.
So that’s the context in the Jewish thinking when the curtain opens on the New Testament. That’s the backdrop when we read in John 1, verse 41: that Andrew “found his . . . brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which means Christ).” Messiah. Christ. This is what the Jews were expecting.
Now Jesus acknowledged a number of times in the New Testament that He was, in fact, the promised Messiah. But normally when He did this it was in private settings. For example, remember His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4? And the woman says to Jesus, “'I know that Messiah is coming [Mashiach] (he who is called Christ) [Christos, the same anointed one]. When he comes, he will tell us all things.' Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am he' (vv. 25–26). I’m the Messiah. He acknowledged that to this Samaritan woman.
In Matthew 16, Jesus said to his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?” People have all kinds of ideas about who I am. Who do you say I am? Well, Simon Peter replied, “'You are the Christ, [the Christos, the anointed one] the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven'" (Matt. 16:15–17).
You remember Mark chapter 14 where the high priest said to Jesus at His trial, "'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, 'I am'" (v. 61). So He accepted that. He said, “I am the promised Messiah.” But Jesus was reluctant to apply the term to Himself in public setting. He didn’t often do that. And I think that was because He knew that the Jews had a faulty understanding of what the Messiah would do when He appeared.
So we read, for example, in John chapter 6, this is right after the feeding of the 5000. And it says that “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (v. 14). This is the prophesied Prophet, the Messiah, the anointed One. And “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself” (v. 15).
Jesus generally “hid” His Messiah-ship from the crowds. In fact, do you remember all the times He would say to somebody He’d healed, He would say, “Don’t tell anybody! Don’t tell anybody.” That’s not the way we talk about it today. But He knew that they had a wrong view of the Messiah and Messiah’s kingdom. So He spent much of His ministry re-interpreting and deconstructing their faulty view of Messiah.
He wanted them to understand that His kingdom was not a political one. It was a spiritual kingdom. And that that kingdom was not going to come through military might or force or violence. It wouldn’t come through human coercion or persuasion. His weapons were humble service and love and ultimately His own death, His greatest weapon to establish that kingdom. And His kingdom would not come in the timing or in the way that they expected it to come or that they wanted it to come.
You see the Jews were expecting a king who would come with pomp and circumstance. They didn’t expect Him to be the servant of Isaiah 53 who would be “despised and rejected by men.” Jesus came quietly and without fanfare. And when He came as a humble, lowly king, they couldn’t buy it. It didn’t fit their expectations. So by and large, with a few exceptions, the Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah and do to this day. They accused Him of blasphemy because if you said you were God’s anointed one and you weren’t that was a really serious offence.
Luke 23 says, “They began to accuse him, saying, 'We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king'” (v. 2). You see, these religious leaders were threatened by Jesus. There was this power struggle. They wanted to retain their power and their control. And so they rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah and ultimately crucified Him.
And as Jesus hung from that cross, Luke 23 goes on to say, “The rulers scoffed at him, saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!'” (v. 35). So they just didn’t get that He really was the Messiah. It was unthinkable to them. It was scandalous that God’s anointed one would suffer, would hang on a cross, and would die. That seemed just the opposite of this victorious, triumphant, conquering king they were expecting who would overthrow the Romans.
Now this rejection, as we’ve already said, was prophesied in the Old Testament. You read for example in Psalm chapter 2, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed [his Mashiach]" (v. 2). In fact, that’s the passage that Peter and John quote in Acts chapter 4. They quote that passage from Psalm 2 when they’re brought in for questioning, this passage that the kings of the earth would set themselves against the Lord and against His Christ, His anointed One.
And do you know what I’m saying when I remind us that He is still hated and rejected by the majority today. And I think it’s for some of the same reasons. Human beings want to retain power and control over their own lives. They don’t want somebody else to be king over them.
So that Jesus was and is the Christ—God’s promised one, God’s anointed one—is a core tenet of our Christian faith. The apostles and the early believers set out to prove that Jesus was in fact “the Christ.” You see this message ringing throughout the book of Acts in the New Testament.
After his conversion, you remember how “Saul . . . confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:22). They had to set out to demonstrate that He is God’s anointed one. In Acts 18 (28) you read about Apollos who “powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures [And what Scriptures would those have been? The Old Testament] that the Christ was Jesus” (v. 28).
So a “Christian," a “Christ one” is someone who believes in and follows Jesus the Christ, God’s anointed One. First John 5 tells us, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (v. 1).
Now, as we think about Jesus being Messiah, Christ, Jesus the Christ, God’s anointed One, what are some takeaways of that for our own hearts here and now? You say, “I knew that. Yes, of course, I believe that." So what? What difference does it make for us?
Well, first of all, it’s a reminder that God’s Word is true. God’s Word is true. God has gone great lengths to give us "many convincing truths," Luke says, as to who Jesus is, that He is the promised One.
And when we have doubts about God’s Word being true and we wonder, Is it really? Because our culture is set out to debunk God’s Word and tell us it isn’t true. Sometimes we can think, Am I just like one of these moronic Christians that I need a crutch to believe in? You may have worked with people in the work place who think you’re nuts for believing this old book is the Word of God.
Well, those doubts can be overcome as we renew our minds with just the sheer awesomeness of all those prophecies from the Old Testament being fulfilled hundreds of years later in Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. God’s Word is true.
And then we’re reminded that Jesus is who He claimed to be. He is who He claimed to be. He is God’s anointed One. Now, it’s interesting today that people are looking, they’re always looking for an anointed leader. We want that anointed leader to be human—kind of like us—not too much over us. But we want somebody we can trust, someone we can follow. People look for this in a president; they look for it in a boss; they look for it in a king; they look for it in a husband. They want an anointed leader.
But I’m telling you, there is only one ultimate anointed leader and that is Jesus—Mashiach—Christos—God’s anointed One who was sent from heaven to be our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. There is only one Messiah. So don’t put your hope or your trust in anything or anyone else no matter how great a leader they may be. There is only one ultimate anointed King and Leader. That is Jesus, and that’s why we worship Him. He is who He claimed to be.
And then we are reminded, thirdly, that God keeps His promises! God keeps His promises. Now He doesn’t always do it in the way or the time that we would expect. The Jews learned that in the New Testament era. They expected a Messiah who would be an earthly king, a political hero who would overcome their enemies and would usher in this utopian age of peace and prosperity.
And again, isn’t that the kind of leader people are looking for today? But their wrong expectations in terms of how and when this would happen kept them from recognizing that Messiah was actually here. When Jesus didn’t meet those expectations, there were a few who believed. God gave them eyes of faith to see that this was the Messiah. But most refused to believe. They rejected Him. They killed Him. And even the disciples, their expectations had to be adjusted.
I think sometimes we have expectations of what Jesus should be like, what He should do. We want to have the crown without the cross, real similar to what the Jews expected of Messiah. So when He doesn’t meet those expectations, even if they’re unspoken expectations, we may be tempted to doubt that He really is the Lord and maybe even to reject Him.
Remember that Christ's rule as Messiah in our lives doesn’t always or quickly lead to the mountain top or to flamboyant victories or to quick fixes. Sometimes His rule as Messiah leads us first through seasons of struggle and weakness and hardship.
But the hope to which we cling and the message that we proclaim is that Jesus is God’s anointed One. He is the Messiah. He is the One who came to deliver His people from enemies of sin and death and ultimately from all the consequences of the fall. He is God’s anointed King who will reign forever and ever.
So the question is have you believed Him? Do you believe Him? Have you received Him? If so, then worship Him. He is God’s One and only anointed One, Messiah, the Christ.
Leslie: We use the name “Christ” all the time without appreciating what it means. But Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us how important that name is.
That’s another teaching segment in the series “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
This series runs throughout the Lenten season. It’s been a rich study so far, focusing our minds on Christ, helping us better understand who He is.
As we were getting ready for this major teaching series, we knew it was special. So we collaborated with artist Timothy Botts—you may have seen his work before. It’s beautiful.
He illustrated twelve of these names of Jesus in his signature calligraphy and watercolor. We offered this artwork at the end of last year in the 2014 wall calendar. Now you can get these twelve works on a set of note cards. As you write and encourage others, they’ll be encouraged by these names of Jesus. And I think the lovely artwork will encourage your friends, too.
When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you the set of twelve note cards and envelopes. And most importantly, you’re helping to make sure Revive Our Hearts continues coming your way each weekday.
Ask for The Wonder of His Name set of note cards when you call 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at