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The Lord’s Messiah

• Greg Boyd

According to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, the Messiah would be anointed to be three things: 1) a priest (mediating God-Israel relation) 2) a warrior (liberating Israel from oppressive powers) 3) a king (ruling Israel in truth and justice). These were the expectations of the first century Jews. Jesus came and fulfilled these expectations but did so in an unexpected way. He was and is all these things, but in a way much different, and far deeper, than Jews at the time understood. He “over-fulfilled” the expectations.

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According to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, the Messiah would be anointed to be three things:
1) a priest (mediating God-Israel relation)
2) a warrior (liberating Israel from oppressive powers)
3) a king (ruling Israel in truth and justice).

These were the expectations of the first century Jews. Jesus came and fulfilled these expectations but did so in an unexpected way. He was and is all these things, but in a way much different, and far deeper, than Jews at the time understood. He “over-fulfilled” the expectations:
* a priest — for the world (not just Israel) who offers himself
* a warrior — liberating the world from cosmic oppressors
* a king — over the world, ruling by self-sacrificial love.

The most significant surprise was the fact that the Messiah was not just the anointed of God, but was God himself, the incarnate manifestation of the presence and reality of God. There were hints of this in the Old Testament (Is. 9:6/ Zech. 12:1-10), but this did not become clear until the New Testament.

Four points from the New Testament support this claim. First are the explicit references to Jesus’ deity. For instance, John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Such outright claims as this require those who deny the deity of Jesus to break Greek grammar rules in order to teach otherwise.

The second point is based on Jesus’ claims about himself as being equal with God. In John 5: 22-23 Jesus states “…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

The third point arises as the New Testament authors apply titles to Jesus that are only used of God in the Old Testament.

The final point is the fact that Jesus is worshipped. Philippians 2:10-11 overtly states that Jesus is due our worship, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” Paul is echoing a passage from Isaiah that charges the people to worship God, “I am God, and there is no other… Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear” (Is. 45:22-23).

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Topics: Defense of Christian Faith


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 2:25-26

    Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.

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