Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jesus: Messiah

Lately I've found myself re-reading the Gospels and replacing the word "Christ" with the word "Messiah". Why? Because I've realized that, for most of my life I've read the term "Christ" as if it were just a synonym for Jesus, or worse yet, as if it were his last name.

Of course, I do realize that "Christ" is not Jesus' last name. That's why I've begun to consciously substitute the word "Messiah" for the word "Christ" as I read the New Testament now. Because I've started to realize that the word "Christ" has very little actual meaning for me. However, the word "Messiah" is much more meaningful.

Here's the Webster's definition of "Messiah":
literally: "anointed"
1 the expected king and deliverer of the Jews
2 a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause

As I read the New Testament with the more robust term "Messiah" in place of "Christ", I am reminded that Jesus is the anointed one. He is the expected king. He is my leader. He is the promised one who has the power to save me, and everyone else.

Certainly these two words are synonymous with one another. Using one over the other doesn't change the meaning of the text in any way. However, in a more practical sense, I am missing the fullness of this word when I read "Christ". Yet, when I read "Messiah" it sort of takes my breath away.

Maybe you're different. Maybe, for you, these two terms are virtually interchangable. But for me, they are not. The term "Christ" has become a title, an empty word containing no tangible truth. But "Messiah" to me is a word that comes alive in my heart. It reminds me that Jesus is the One. He has come. And He is still fulfilling the promises made to His people thousands of years ago.

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:31

"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." - Acts 2:36

I think that the original authors of these passages intended that the readers and the hearers experience a genuine sense of excitement at the sound of these words. When I read the word "Messiah" I get that sense of wonder again. I catch myself breathing faster.

Maybe it's because I am more aware than ever these days just how much I am in need of a Messiah that this simple exercise matters to me? I don't know. All I can say is that the New Testament is coming alive to me again, after many years of being stale, and I'm very thankful to know the power of the name of Jesus, and to call on Him as my Messiah, and Lord.



Marc said...

I did this "replace" too at the prompting of N.T. Wright. I've even started replacing "faith" with "faithfulness" wherever possible and suddenly all sorts of things make sense! Justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not my faith in Christ - now that's assurance!

Talmid said...

a few years ago I did the same thing, I actually started reading the Jewish New Testament and David Stern uses Jesus the Messiah instead of Jesus Christ. Now whatever version I am reading I use Messiah instead of Christ.Like you it reminds of who Jesus is our Messiah, the annointed one!!