What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Messiah?

Q. What does Messiah mean? What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Messiah?

The word “Messiah” comes from a Hebrew term meaning “anointed.” The Greek equivalent, “Christ,” also means “anointed.”

In the Old Testament, a person was anointed, that is, someone would pour oil on their head, to show that God had chosen them to fulfill a special purpose. Aaron, for example, was anointed to show that God had chosen him to be the high priest. David was anointed to show that God had chosen him to be king.

So while Messiah or Christ literally means “anointed,” it really indicates “chosen.” When Christians call Jesus the Messiah, they mean that they believe God chose him to be the Savior of the world.

This title has a close connection to the figure in the Old Testament known as the Servant of the Lord. God says of that figure:

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.

So, briefly stated, the Messiah is the one God chose to be the Savior.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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