“The church’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah has always been central to its theology.” — H.L. Ellison
After the reign of David, Israel craved for an ideal king to maintain their culture and prestige among the nations. Disillusioned when the kingdom was divided, Israel’s hope of a Messiah was projected into the future (Jeremiah 31:31-40; Zechariah 9:9-17). Looking toward Bethlehem, they longed for his coming (Micah 5:2).
The word “Messiah” is derived from an Aramaic word meaning to anoint or smear with oil. The sons of Aaron were the first to be anointed (Exodus 29:7). This induction ceremony allowed them to have a special relationship with God. Later this consecration rite was conferred upon the monarchy of Israel with Saul being the first anointed King of Israel, followed by David (1 Samuel 9:14-16; 2 Samuel 5:1-5).
In contrast to Saul, God’s promise of dynastic succession continued after David’s death (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Though imperfect, David was marked as God’s chosen representative. Yet, many of his descendents wronged God, and the Kingdom was taken from their hands. While in captivity, the remnant of Israel anticipated the return of a powerful and visible Davidic King, the Messiah of God.
Over the centuries, many have claimed to be this Messiah. Here are just a few:
Abraham Abulafia (1240)
Abu Isa (685 B.C.)
Ann Lee (1784)
Athronges (4 B.C.)
Asher Kay (1502)
David Alrui (1160)
David Koresh (1993)
Haile Selassie (1974)
Hayim Vital (1620)
Jacob Joseph Frank (1791)
Jacob Querido (1690)
Jim Jones (1978)
Jonathan the Weaver (A.D. 73)
Joseph Eleff (2007)
Judas the Galilean (6 B.C.)
Lukuas (A.D. 115)
Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1994)
Menahem (66 B.C.)
Miguel Abraham Cardoso (1630)
Mirza Ghulan Ahmad (1908)
Mokichi Okada (1955)
Mordecai Mokiakh (1683)
Moses Botarel of Cisneros (1413)
Moses of Crete (448 B.C.)
Nissim ben Abraham (1295)
Sabbatai Zevi (1676)
Samaritan Prophet (36 B.C.)
Simon bar Giora (69 B.C.)
Simon ben Kosiba (132 B.C.)
Theudas (45 B.C.)
With so many claiming to be the Messiah, how do we know who’s the real one?
There is abundant evidence in scripture to determine his identity (Isaiah 9:1-7: Isaiah 11:1-5; Hosea 6:1-3). The Prophets described him as a direct descendant of David. They taught that he would suffer and be put to death. Likewise, they said that he would be resurrected to restore the Kingdom of God, destroy the wicked, and judge the world.
The life of Jesus of Nazareth fulfills these Messianic prophecies. He is a direct descendant of King David (Matthew 1:1). He died as a sacrifice, and his death is identical to what we read about in Isaiah 53:1-12 (John 11:49-51).
I like the way that Shadrach Meshach Lockeridge describes him:
“My King was born King. The bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.
Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.
He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of the spiritual religion. That’s my King.
He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He is available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and he beautifies the meek. That’s my King.
Do you know Him? Well, my King is King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my king.
His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you … but He’s indescribable. That’ my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.
I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they could not stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.
He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!” /1
The evidence cries out that Jesus is the Messiah. Is he yours? Christian, are you up for the task?
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.” –Isaac Watts
1/ This sermon was preached in Detroit, Michigan in 1976.
Will the real Messiah please stand up.