Our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is born! What joy! What a celebration! What hope! The bells are ringing, and the city sidewalks are being decorated. Preachers are preaching, teachers are teaching, choirs are singing and families are gathering. This is Jesus, the Son of the Living God. The Lamb of God has been born, and He takes away the sins of the world.
No wonder Jesus posed such an important question to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi. “Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). This was the meeting point of the court of public opinion. Some thought of Him as Jeremiah and some even considered Him John the Baptist.
Jesus the Messiah
We have already established the unsurpassed joy of Jesus as Lord and Savior. But He is also Messiah! The messiahship of Jesus is essential to the very fabric of our Christian faith. This is what we know and this is what we believe.
As Christians, we believe Jesus is the central figure of our faith. We believe He is the incarnation of God the Son and is the long-awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. He came to be called Jesus Christ and, in so doing, was considered “the Anointed One” by His followers after the crucifixion and glorious resurrection from the grave. In fact, as Christians, we believe the messianic prophecies were totally fulfilled in His earthly mission, His death, burial and resurrection by the very power of God the Father. The literal translation of the Hebrew word meshiach (messiah) is the word anointed. It refers to a ritual of consecration by which a person is set apart in a unique way by putting holy oil on that person.
Christmas is the time of the year when we celebrate the only begotten One, uniquely set apart and consecrated by the Father, as the only means by which sinful man can be reconciled to God. His messiahship stands in full oneness with our triune God, as the redemptive plan of a loving God and in total fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. This wonderful gift of salvation comes through Jesus as Savior, Lord and Messiah.
Jesus is called “the Christ” (the Greek term for messiah) in Matthew 1:16. This is who He is. We must remember the Jewish people were looking for a messiah. They were in desperate need of deliverance from their Roman oppressors. The Old Testament prophets had good news. They didn’t foresee the exact identity of the One they were looking for, but they would have every reason to expect Him to be a Hebrew man (Isaiah 9:6). His distinctiveness would be affirmed by the fact that He would be born of the tribe of Judah (Luke 3:30). His birth would take place in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) where the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
A King ‘from the Stump of Jesse’
Just as with Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18, God would raise up this Messiah from among the Jewish leaders. And just like Moses, this man would carry in His mouth the very words of God and the explicit commands of God. Just as they had followed Moses, so they would have every reason to follow this Jesus. This Messiah would lead them from bondage to deliverance. The “promised land” was theirs to possess if they submitted to this leader from God. Furthermore, the coming Messiah would be a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). Melchizedek, which means “king of righteousness,” served as the priest/king of Salem (Genesis 14:17-20) and provides a picture of the order of Christ’s high priesthood. When Jesus came and was born in Bethlehem, He fulfilled all of these prophesies as well as being a king (Isaiah 11:1-4) from “the stump of Jesse.”
This is amazing. After the Babylonian captivity of 586 B.C., the Davidic dynasty was seemingly doomed. The nation would disintegrate but for the life that remained through the roots and stump of the Davidic line. That life, Isaiah said, was to manifest itself in the form of the “Rod” and the “Branch” (Isaiah 11:1-2). The messianic king would come through the line of David’s father, Jesse. Several of the prophets used “Branch” as the title for the coming messiah (Jeremiah 23:5; Isaiah 4:2; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12). And, just as the Spirit of the Lord was conferred on David when he was anointed as king (1 Samuel 16:13), so the Spirit would come to rest on the One who would prompt God’s unique pronouncement at His baptism, when the heavens opened and God said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
The King of the Jews
This makes Christmas such an incredible time for which to give thanks to God. Think about it: Moses represented God; Jesus is God. Melchizedek ruled over a city and was considered a king of peace (Hebrews 7:2); the Messiah is peace and rules over all the world. Being from the kingly tribe of Judah, His claim as King was affirmed by the wise men who came looking for the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2), a royal designation even affirmed by Pilate who asked Him if he was, indeed, King of the Jews (Mark 15:2).
This is Jesus, our Messiah. He is the “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53) who was despised, rejected and pierced. After suffering on the cross, He was raised from the dead (Isaiah 53:11) and glorified as the Son of the Living God (Isaiah 53:12).
Christmas is the time to see Him as Lord, Savior and Messiah. The shepherds saw Him (Luke 2:16-17). Peter and the disciples saw Him (Matthew 16:16). Paul saw Him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). We see Him, too. Jesus Christ is born, the Savior of the world. Our hope. Our joy. Let us rejoice and share the love of Christ because of the matchless love of God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. ©2018 Don Wilton
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Don Wilton is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C., and president of The Encouraging Word television ministry.