Episode 02: The term Christ is one of the most important terms in all of Scripture and yet is seldom fully understood by followers of Jesus. In episode two we will explore the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and learn about the Jewish people’s expectation of the coming messiah. We will study the Hebrew Scriptures and learn that they speak of a coming anointed one, a king who will come to redeem mankind, defeat Israel’s enemies, and set up his kingdom.
The Lesson: What Does Messiah Mean?
In Episode 2: Messiah, the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) television series A Promise of What is to Come takes the audience through what to me was like “The Name of Christ 101.” I don’t mean to be flippant or disrespectful in saying it that way, but I guess I didn’t realize that there were so many Christians in the world today who still labor under a lack of comprehension of the meaning of the title “Christ”.
FFOZ teacher and narrator Toby Janicki starts off this episode correcting what most of us probably believed as children, if we were believers as children, that “Christ” is not simply the last name of Jesus. It’s a title and more than that, probably the most important concept in the Bible, particularly to the Jewish people. It not only tells us what Jesus did but what he is going to do.
Let’s look at two ways we can view Peter’s revelation that Jesus is “the Christ.”
And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
–Mark 8:29 (ESV)
He asked them, saying, “And you, what do you say about me — who am I?” Petros answered and said to him, “You are the Mashiach!”
–Markos 8:29 (DHE Gospels)
By reading this verse using two different translations, Toby illustrates how the declaration of Peter can be viewed in two quite different ways. I find it interesting that Toby used the ESV translation, since in my Pastor’s opinion, it is actually one that promotes more of a supersessionistic or replacement theology viewpoint. Obviously, the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels are designed to “retro-translate” the Greek into Hebrew and then translate that Hebrew forward into English to give the reader a more Jewish context for understanding the gospel message.
As in other episodes, information is cast as a mystery and we are provided with three clues in order to solve the mystery. Today, we confront the Mystery of Christ.
Toby uses John 1:41 and especially the text, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ) in order to show us the relationship or equivalency between the English words “Messiah” and “Christ.” This text was written for the sake of what John anticipated was a mixed Jewish and non-Jewish audience but as Toby points out, the original readers of this gospel weren’t provided with a definition of the term “Messiah.” That means the Jewish people involved, including Andrew and Simon Peter, already knew what “Messiah” meant. Yeshua (Jesus) did not invent a new role, “the Christ” but came to fulfill a pre-existing role: “Messiah.”
This gives us Clue 1:
The Title “Christ” was not new.
The scene shifts to Aaron Eby in Israel who provides the audience with a language lesson about the meaning of “Messiah” or rather, the Hebrew word “Moshiach.” He tells us that the Hebrew word “Mashach” means “to smear with oil.” We have examples in the Old Testament of both Kings and High Priests being inaugurated into office by literally having oil poured or smeared all over them.
Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?
–1 Samuel 10:1 (NASB)
So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”
–1 Samuel 24:6 (NASB)
The “one who is anointed” or “anointed one” is “Moshiach” in Hebrew. When this Hebrew word had to be translated into Greek, the Greek word for “smeared with oil” was used, “Christos.” When the Greek was translated into English, rather than render it as “anointed one” or even “Messiah,” translators created a brand new word in English: “Christ.”
The scene returns to Toby for the rest of the message and we arrive at the final two clues.
Messiah = Anointed One
And Clue 3:
Old Testament prophesies talk about the anointed one.
No one in the days of Jesus had to define what “Messiah” meant because every Jewish person already knew.
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
–John 1:45 (NASB)
Messiah had been written about in the Torah of Moses and in the Prophets. Toby provides some key texts citing an anointed King such as David or Solomon and linking them to the anointed King: Messiah. He also reminds us of the two roles that Messiah fulfills, being both King, which we have already seen, and High Priest:
He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
–Hebrews 5:9-10 (NASB)
In addition to quoting from Psalm 2 and Psalm 132, Toby relates the Messianic prophesies from Daniel 9:25, where we learn that Messiah will come to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem, and Isaiah 61:1-3 where Messiah speaks in his own voice through the prophet. This is also the scroll that Jesus read in the synagogue as he declared himself as Moshiach before his people.
The scroll of Yeshayah the Prophet was given to him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it is written:
The spirit of HaShem is upon me in order to anoint me to bring good news to the humble. He has sent me to care for the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the exiles, and for the blind an opening release … to send the oppressed away free … to proclaim a year of favor for HaShem.
When he rolled up the scroll, returned it to the chazzan, and sat, the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were focused on him. He began saying to them, “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
–Lukas 4:17-21 (DHE Gospels)
But all is not fulfilled. The Messiah came once but, as we saw in the previous episode The Good News, the Messiah has yet to establish Israel as the head of all nations, redeem her people, and bring peace to Israel and the nations.
As we Christians wait for his return, Jews all over the world wait also for Messiah, as it is said:
I believe with great faith in the coming of Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I still believe every day that he will come.
And so do we.
What Did I Learn?
Not to put too fine a point on it, I have heard most or all of this information about the meaning of “Christ” and “Moshiach” before. I guess you don’t have to spend too much time in the Hebrew Roots or Messianic movements before the subject comes up. Also, I believe this information is (or should be) largely available in most churches.
If I learned anything new, it was that, by creating this specific episode, the content planners at FFOZ must believe that this is new and valuable information for a traditionally Christian television audience. If that’s the case, then many Christians must have a great need for even the most basic information about the “Jewish Jesus” or Yeshua HaMoshiach.
If you found this message about the true meaning of the title “Christ” interesting and illuminating, I highly encourage you to watch the complete episode and all of the other episodes available at tv.ffoz.org. It is First Fruits of Zion: A promise of what is to come.
I hope to review the next episode very soon.