He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
– First Peter 1:20-21
To properly understand the life of Christ we must ask the question – why did He come to Earth? It wasn’t merely to be a teacher, preacher, or even a man; it was to be the Messiah. This foundational idea is central to our understanding of Christ. His fulfillment of the prophecies, death on the cross, and resurrection proved (eternally) that God’s Messiah had come to this world and accomplished His purpose.
We must understand that Jesus was always the One to Come. From our humble beginnings in the Garden of Eden, Christ was destined to be our Savior. There are over 300 specific prophecies about the Messiah from the OT that Jesus fulfills, there are several that cannot be coincidental. In fact, if we hold Scripture in high regard (see Second Timothy 3:16-17) then we know they are not coincidental. Consider the following:
(a) In Micah 5:2, the prophet tells us that “the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting,” will come from Bethlehem. See the fulfillment of this in Matthew 2:1. You can even see the wise men refer to this passage in Matthew 2:5-6.
(b) In Isaiah 7:14, we’re told: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” See the fulfillment of this in Matthew 1:18-25.
(c) Hosea 11:1 refers to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ escape into Egypt as they were fleeing from Herod. It says there, “out of Egypt I called My Son,” and is quoted in Matthew 2:15. In connection to that escape, Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in Matthew 2:16 was also foretold in Jeremiah 31:15.
(d) There are so many more that must be considered: He would be of David’s line (see Second Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 11:1); the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6); He would spend 3 days in the tomb (Jonah 1:17); and He would be betrayed (Zechariah 11:12-13).
(e) In all of the OT however, there is no greater discussion of the coming Messiah than that of Isaiah 53. The passage describing the “Suffering Servant” is wholeheartedly enough to describe His role as our Savior. The wholeness of the description is breathtaking. Consider the description:
His appearance is normal, like any other human (53:1-2). He is “despised and rejected by men” and “abandoned, despised, and not esteemed” as He should be (53:3). He will “bear our griefs and carry our sorrows” but we will call Him “smitten by God, afflicted” (53:4). He is “wounded for our transgressions” and we are “healed by His stripes” (53:5) because the Lord laid “our iniquities” upon Him (53:6). He will be “led like a sheep led to slaughter” (53:7) and “cut off from the land of the living” (53:8). His death will be with “the wicked and the rich” (53:9). The Lord has done this so that He may “bear the sin of many and make intercession for the transgressors” (53:10-12).
These moments were divinely ordained by God and set in motion before the foundation of the world (see First Peter 1:20). The idea is simple – His path was chosen, predicted, and carried out as God anticipated. Without that quality, Jesus would not be the Messiah.
Shifting gears, no study of the Messiah can be complete without an understanding of His relationship with the Heavenly Father. Consider the following passages:
(a) In John 10:30, Christ said, “I and the Father are One.” That idea, while seemingly difficult to comprehend completely, is foundational to the Christian Faith. Consider the passages we covered while talking about Christ’s role in creation (see John 1:1-3 and John 8:58).
(b) In John 17:21, Christ’s prayer for His disciples was based on the unity of the Father and the Son. Notice, He prays, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.”
(c) Consider as well, His statements in Luke 2:49, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and Matthew 21:13 when He references Jeremiah 7:11 and calls the Temple, “My house.”
In every way, shape, and form, Jesus clearly taught that He was God’s Son. God Himself chimed in at Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:17) and Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:5) by saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Several things during the crucifixion point to Christ’s understanding of His role as Messiah:
(a) In Luke 23:34, He says, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” That ability to forgive in a moment unlike any other is purely divine.
(b) When Christ says, “It is finished,” in John 19:30 and dies, He gives us a glimpse at His thoughts. Surely, the weight of this moment has been on Him for some time (see Matthew 26:38-40).
The final bit of proof for Christ’s divinity lies not just in the prophecies that preceded Him, the lessons He taught, the miracles He performed, or death He died, but in His resurrection from the dead. The ability to have power over death is inherently a quality of God and God alone.
Consider His proclamation in John 2:18-20 when He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Clearly, we can see, He was talking about the relationships between God and man. They couldn’t understand that in the moment but did at later times (see also John 2:21-22 and John’s commentary on the passage).
The Apostle Paul would speak to the value of the resurrection in First Corinthians 15:12-19. There, he makes it clear that without Christ’s resurrection, then our faith is “futile and we are still in our sins!” and that those who have “fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” His final statement at 15:19 still rings true today:
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
The qualities of Jesus that make Him the Messiah are beyond compare. May we honor Him who came to be with us in this world by proclaiming loudly His divinity, power, and place amongst the God of our life.
All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by Permission. All rights reserved.