The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” (Matthew 12:23, NLT)
From the time of Christ’s birth people have been asking, “Could He be the Messiah?”
As a Gentile believer in Jesus Christ, I don’t think I completely grasp the Jewish mindset of Jesus’ time. They knew the prophecies and, living under the heavy burden of Roman rule at the time, they wanted their Savior desperately. The longed for the Messiah to come and rescue His people from their oppressors. They had waited and watched for Him for centuries.
When the time came, Christ was born! Immanuel, God with us, was here! Their Messiah had arrived!
Do you remember as a child the anticipation of Christmas morning when you would open all those wonderful presents glistening in shiny paper under the tree? And then you open that first gift to find out it’s underwear! If you have restraint, you don’t throw the gift down in disappointment—if not,..
Well, Israel experienced something like this when Jesus explained to them that God’s kingdom was different than the political kingdom they were hoping for. Jesus came to set His people free from sin, not from Rome. He came to reconcile the people to God in intimate relationship, not in national pride.
Some of them threw the package across the room.
Should We Be Looking for Someone Else?
Many came to know Messiah as their Savior and Lord. They followed Him, and their lives were changed dramatically.
Some doubted and questioned. Some, even Jesus’ Disciples, did not always understand.
John the Baptist had his moment of doubt when he was in prison facing death.
John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me. (Matthew 11:2-6, NLT)
I find those verses so interesting. John the Baptist jumped in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elisabeth. He prepared the way for Jesus. John baptized Jesus. He stood up for the Gospel his whole life. And now, he was being severely persecuted. I think he didn’t doubt as much as he needed some comfort, some reassurance that it had not all been in vain. Maybe he was looking for an earthly kingdom a little too. But I don’t think so. I think he understood God’s plan. And, like all of us do from time to time, he needed a confirmation that his faith was not misplaced—that he had not been fooling himself—that the kingdom of God was real.
And then, look at Jesus’ answer. Jesus sends encouragement but does not actually say, “Tell him, of course I’m the Messiah!” Maybe Jesus wanted him to draw on his faith. Maybe Jesus knew John needed to hear of miracles and that the Gospel was being preached to reassure him. As horrible as his death was, I think John found peace that day when his disciples returned after seeing all that was happening through Jesus’ ministry. He had prepared the way well.
I Am the Messiah!
I know of only one time in the entire Bible where Jesus simply says, “I am the Messiah.” And that was the remarkable encounter with the woman at the well.
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!” (John 4:25-26, NLT)
Jesus knows our hearts. He knows our needs. He knows God’s plan and purposes. So, I know that He is not playing games with people during His time on earth. He gave John the Baptist the answer he needed. And here, he gives this lonely, broken woman the answer she longed for. She needed to know, to understand. And she left her water jar and ran back to the village calling out to the people who probably shunned her—the ones, only minutes before, she avoided—and she shared the Good News with them.
She was a woman in a world that did not honor woman as being much more than property—
Jesus treated her with kindness and respect.
She was a woman living a life of sin, failure, and shame—Jesus gave her hope, peace, and forgiveness.
She was a woman at a well thirsting for water—He gave her living water that quenched the thirst of her heart and soul.
That’s the Messiah—our Savior.
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, NLT)
I believe Jesus asks each of us at some point in our lives, “Who do you say that I am?” My answer when I was seven years old was, “You are the Messiah” as I put my faith and trust in Him and turned away from my sin. I began following Him that day to the best of my understanding of the Christian life, and I’ve continued to grow and learn throughout my life. I have never been the same, and I am so grateful for the New Life I have in Christ Jesus.
How about you? Have you chosen to follow Christ? This Christmas, are you opening the gift of salvation offered to us all from the Messiah? It is the greatest gift any of us can ever receive.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8, NLT)