The term “Messiah” means, the “anointed one” in the Hebrew Bible, and
in Judaism it takes on the added meaning of ”the anointed one par
excellence”, i.e. an ultimate redeemer, a king of the line of David who would
free the Jews from foreign bondage, and restore the Jews to the glory of
their golden age; a very secular meaning.
The “anointed” has a strong biblical tradition, referring to
“consecrated” persons such as high priests, kings and prophets.
There are two references in the Old Testament to a “Messiah”, Daniel 9:25-
26, referring to him as a “Prince”, without any further details. Daniel was in
exile in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem, and his verses are in the context
of its fall and his prophesy of its restoration. (Circa 600 B.C.)
There are references to describe a future ideal national leader and/or
spiritual leader which are quite colorful, which Christians have taken to be
descriptive of the “Messiah”. (“Christos” in Greek)
The entire Psalm 2 is devoted to this “Lord’s anointed” theme, i.e.:
By the time of Roman occupation and rule, the expectation of a personal
Messiah was strong in the minds of various Jewish groups and movements.
For example, in the Qumran sect, the idea of a messianic pair: a priestly
Messiah of the House of Aaron, and a royal Messiah of the House of David,
Another example is the entire Book of Enoch, devoted to the concept of a
heavenly being called the “Son of Man” descending from heaven to save
After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., there was described in the
2nd century a second messianic figure, a “warrior-Messiah” of the house of
Joseph, who would precede the real Messiah of the house of David.
Finally, belief in the “Messiah” became a firm tenet of Judaism, and is a
part of Maimonides’ 13 articles of faith (1200 A.D.).
Islam, Buddhism, and Zoroasterism also all have future messianic figures
who will restore the ideals of their faith.
Jesus of Nazareth has been accepted by Christianity as “the Messiah”.
Jesus rejected a Jewish political, nationalistic, warrior role, and said His
kingdom was not of this earth. He rejected the oral traditions of Judaism, but
insisted that “not one jot or tittle of the ‘law’ shall be removed”, presumably
the 663 laws of today’s Orthodox Jews.
He also stated that to “love God”, and to “love thy neighbor” are the two
great commandments, and that all the law and the prophets depend upon
these two concepts.
He further defined Himself as the “Son of Man”, the “Son of God”, and as
the Suffering Servant as described in Isaiah chapters 52-53.
There are very few historical non-Gospel references to Jesus Christ,
almost as if He were an unknown.
He is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus, the Roman historian
Tacitus, and the Roman author Pliny the Younger, as well as in the Talmud.
Jesus believed that the kingdom of God would not appear until His death,
and so He willingly went up to Jerusalem to accomplish this.
In Judaism, there is the concept that animal sacrifices suffice to atone for
the sins of the people, and especially, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement,
that a scapegoat should be sent out into the wilderness, carrying the sins of
the people away.
This Day of Atonement is described in Lev. 23:32 as a “Sabbath of solemn
rest” or literally a “Sabbath of Sabbaths”.
Further, in Lev. 16:30, is stated that on this day a man must cleanse
himself of all sin. In tractate Yoma of the Talmud, elaborate Temple
ceremonials are described, including the only day the high priest was
allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and clothed only in white linen to signify
purity and humility.
The ceremonies included the dispatch of a scapegoat, bearing the sins of
the people, to the wilderness “for Azazel”. (a demon)
As a result of this service, all sins are forgiven.
In addition, the evening service includes the ”Kol Nidre”, in which all
vows for the following year are voided in advance. (from the 6th-11th
The observance of this is similar today in modern Judaism.
Thus we have Jesus Himself believing that He had to die to fulfill the will
of God, and by this sacrifice He would be atoning for all the sins of all
It is curious that nobody except the followers of Jesus saw Him after His
resurrection, except for St. Paul some time later, on the road to Damascus.
Following a series of appearances, Jesus ascended to heaven and has
That something stupendous happened is apparent in that His disciples
commenced to preach “Jesus is risen from the dead”, so successfully that
2000 years later there are over 2 billion Christian believers in that.
There are 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, a xxxx 2000 years old.
There are 217 million Orthodox, again 2000 years old.
Then there are the Protestant denominations, 365 million, 500 years old.
And the Mormons—from 1830—, the Jehovah’s Witnesses—1870.