Messiah comes from the Hebrew mâshı̂yach, meaning anointed. “Messiah” is also “Christ” in the Greek. In fact, the word “Christ” has a verb form chrio, which means to anoint. Throughout the Mosaical scriptures, those anointed were prophets (1 Kgs 19:16), priests (Exod 30:30–31), and kings (1 Sam 9:16; 10:1). When David refused to kill King Saul, David said, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, God‘s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Sam 24:6, 26). Here, David recognized and respected Saul as the anointed one or the chosen of God to be king (cf. Rom 13:1–6; 1 Pet 2:13–17).
How would an anointing be described? How would someone picture an anointing? Some picture the sprinkling of oil, which is one way to anoint. Anointing can also be by pouring the oil from a flask (1 Sam 10:1). Yet, the anointing of bread with oil being rubbed or brushed expands the common perception of anointing (Lev 2:4; 7:12; 8:26; Num 6:15). Anointing is simply applying olive oil to someone’s head.
What significance and meaning does this lend toward the “Messiah”? The remnant of Israel has been looking for the Messiah predicted throughout their scriptures. There were specific scriptures that sparked the search.
Psalm 2 is the foundational passage introducing the title of the Anointed. According to the Jewish Publication Society Bible (JPS), Psalm 2 says,
“Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed:” (Ps 2:1–2 JPS).
Here is God’s Anointed, Messiah, described, “Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Ps 2:6 JPS). The description of God’s King, the Christ, grows in these verses revealing the title, “the Son of God”, comes from “I will tell of the decree: the LORD said unto me: ‘Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee.'” (Ps 2:7 JPS). The Son of God is the Messiah. The Anointed King is promised by God,
“Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel'” (2:8–9).
This is who the Jews have been looking for.
Why do Christians consider Jesus of Nazareth to the Anointed? The Christian scriptures reveal “the Son of God” breaking the nations with a rod of iron meaning that the Christ will bring all into judgment in the end (Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). Revelation 19:15–16 speaks of the judgment of Christ upon the nations who persecuted His saints saying,
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Here, the anointed king of Psalm 2 is presented from the Christian perspective.
Look at a little more at the title “Son of God”. In the Christian scriptures, the disciple Nathanael believed Jesus to be the Christ, he said, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). The Apostle Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16; John 6:69). The Apostle John said, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” These believers in Jesus understood the significance of God’s Son being anointed. These are some of the 45 plus references to the Son of God in the Christian scriptures.
Add to these references to Christ the Greek word monogenes, the only begotten and, or one of a kind. Remember Psalm 2:7, “Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee.” John, a disciple of Jesus, wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 18), and John said,
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9).
The only begotten is another reference to the Son of God, the Messiah, as seen in the begotten Son of God in Psalm 2. Jesus said in the Christian scriptures,
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18).
See, this is the concept of the Messiah, the Christ. These characteristics show the Messiah who was being sought (Ps 45:7; 110:1, 4).
Psalm 2 spoke of the Anointed, who is the suffering Servant of Isaiah. Isaiah 61:1 says,
“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to bring good tidings unto the humble; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the eyes to them that are bound;” (JPS).
This is the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah. Isaiah is clear about this Servant being the Anointed One when God says,
“Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him, he shall make the right to go forth to the nations” (42:1 JPS).
This Servant is not Jacob or Israel. For Isaiah reveals,
“Yea, He saith: ‘It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the offspring of Israel; I will also give thee for a light of the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth” (49:6 JPS).
The Servant of God is Deity. He is God. God says in Isaiah 48:16 (JPS),
“Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this: From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord GOD hath sent me, and His spirit.“
Therefore, this Servant is the Messiah and He is God while being separate from the Father and the Spirit. To even more prove this, Isaiah 9:6–7 (JPS) says,
“For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele- joez-el-gibbor [Mighty God]-Abi-ad-sar-shalom [Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace]; That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts doth perform this.”
The Christian scriptures seek to verify by more than two witnesses that Jesus is the Messiah (Deut 17:6–7; 19:15; John 5; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 John 5). These scriptures are written testimonies of the witnesses who witnessed Jesus’ anointing, miracles, teaching, love, death, burial, and resurrection. Those who read must act as their own judgment recognizing the similarities that confirm the facts.
When Jesus was baptized, then Luke records that many witnessed,
“the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased'” (Luke 3:22).
The Apostle Peter described this saying, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). Following this anointing, Jesus spoke in a synagogue in Nazareth and read Isaiah 61, which says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me”. Here Jesus said that this fulfilled to those who knew of His anointing and He confirmed that He was the Messiah.
Jesus’ words regarding Himself are a fitting conclusion and thought-provoking. Jesus said in Matthew 22:41–46,
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?‘ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?” If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son?‘ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.”