16: Who is Jesus? (John 1:41-42)
16: Who is Jesus?
After meeting Jesus for the first time, one of them, Andrew, goes to find his brother Simon. When he finds Simon he has some great news for him. This is not once-in-a-lifetime news. It is way bigger than that. This is once-for-all-time news and it is all bound up in the name that he calls Jesus. He calls Him a name that no one else in the Bible directly calls Him. He calls Him Messiah.
“One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” (John 1:41-42)
Messiah. This is the only time in the Bible that Jesus is directly called by that name.
John is the only writer in the New Testament that uses the name and he only does it twice. On the second occasion, it is not a devout disciple who uses the name but a shamed Samaritan woman. She is talking to Jesus but when she uses the word Messiah she is not thinking that Jesus is the Messiah she is talking about.
“The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” (John 4:25)
I said that no one else other than Andrew directly called Jesus “Messiah” in the Bible. That is true, but Jesus did call Himself by that name.
“Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”” (John 4:26)
It seems that John’s readers may not have been familiar with the term because, when he uses it, he has to explain what it means.
“We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” (John 1:42)
When the women at the well uses the term she adds the same interpretation as if she doesn’t expect even Jesus to know what it means.
“I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ).” (John 4:25)
Christ (Greek “Christos”) was the much more commonly used title for Jesus. It had the same meaning as Messiah for the Jews and anyone else who understood their history. Whilst Messiah (Greek “Messias”) only appears these two times in the entire New Testament, Christ is used well over 500 times.
John himself mostly uses the term Christ, 38 times in fact in his gospel, letters and Revelation. He only uses Messiah twice. Firstly Andrew calls him that term here when he goes to Simon and then Jesus affirms that the name belongs to Him alone when talking to the woman at the well.
The two titles have the same meaning.
Christ comes from the Greek word “Christos” which is based on the Greek word “chrio” which means to smear or rub with oil. To anoint.
Messiah comes from the Hebrew “mesiyah” which is based on the Hebrew word “masah” which also means to rub with oil. To anoint.
Christ and Messiah both mean “Someone who is anointed with oil”.
There are other Biblical words that are also translated “anointed” that have to do with rubbing with oil.
In the Old Testament, when it refers to people rubbing on oil as a perfume or fragrance it uses the Hebrew word “suk” which is often translated “anoint” (Ruth 3:3, Song of Songs 1:3, Daniel 10:3, Ezekial 16:9).
When David refers to the practice of a shepherd rubbing oil onto the head of a sheep in Psalm 23:5 he uses the Hebrew word “dasen” which is also often translated as anoint.
This is also true in the New Testament where Greek alternate words are used to describe someone rubbing on oil as a perfume or fragrance. “Myrizo” is used in Mark 14:8 to describe the woman anointing Jesus with oil and “aleipho” is used of the same incident in Luke 7:46 and when Mary does the same to Jesus in John 11:2 and John 12:3.
That same Greek word “aleipho” is also used to describe the disciples anointing the sick in Mark 6:13 and again in the context of the elders of the church in James 5:14.
The Hebrew word “masah” and the Greek word “chrio” are used for more specific reasons and purposes. In the Old Testament the root word “masah” (to anoint, rub with oil) refers to:
1) Articles of worship: The first mention of this word in the Bible refers to the anointing of a particular article to set it apart and dedicate it for worship and service.
Jacob was a worshiper and he is the first person in the Bible to anoint something, which was a pillar when he was dedicating himself to God: “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me.” (Genesis 31:13)
Thereafter the various articles of Moses’ tabernacle were dedicated to the Lord by anointing them. “With it (anointing oil) you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy.” (Exodus 30:26-29).
These were ordinary articles, tents, tables, pillars etc. But when they were anointed they were, from that moment on, chosen, set apart and dedicated to God. Holy for the Lord.
2) Weapons for battle: as David laments the death of Saul he notes that the king’s shield was not rubbed with oil that day, which was unusual: “For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.” (2 Samuel 1:21)
3) People for service:
a. Priests: Those people who were set apart and dedicated to the Lord for service and worship. “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.” (Exodus 30:30).
As with the articles of worship, the anointing oil here signifies that God is setting these people apart, they are chosen, for a special office to serve Him in praying for and ministering to His people. Equally it was an anointing for these men to minister to the Lord and to stand in the gap between Him and His people.
Again, like the articles, there was nothing special about these men, they were just ordinary members of Israel with exactly the same weaknesses, temptations and sins as everyone else. But when they were anointed with oil, they were set apart and dedicated as “holy” to the Lord.
Not only are they set apart, but the oil signifies that they now have a special grace, authority and power from God to do something that they could not do before by their own strength, skill or talent.
b. Prophets: Elijah was ordered to anoint Elisha as a prophet to take his place. “and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.” (1Kings 19:16).
Anointing Elisha with oil signified that he was being set apart, chosen and dedicated to the Lord’s service. Even though he was an ordinary man like everyone else, the oil signified that he was going to be given special grace, power and authority from God to bring the word of God to Israel. That power and authority extended, like Samuel before him, to the raising up and pulling down of kings and kingdoms.
c. Kings: Right from the beginning of the Kingly line in Israel, Kings were anointed with oil. “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.'” (1Samuel 10:1)
This often happened prophetically before they were made King, sometimes, like David, many years before, and was then repeated when they were crowned. It was a sign that they were set apart, chosen by God to be dedicated to Him for His service, not now as a minister before Him but as a ruler for Him.
Again they were ordinary people, some of them had some pretty spectacular weaknesses! But the anointing with oil was a sign of God’s blessing and grace on their reign and implied that they would have God given power and authority to rule over his people and carry out His plans among them.
In these verses Samuel prophesies as he anoints Saul that he will rule over his people and deliver them from their enemies. The implication is that Saul could not do this in his own strength but now has a special grace from God to carry out the role that God is calling him to fulfill. The anointing oil is the outward sign that God is pouring out His grace on Saul for the specific task of ruling His people and subduing His enemies.
In summary then, being an “anointed one” meant being chosen, set apart from among the people and dedicated to God for a particular role and purpose. The anointing oil was a sign that God was going to give ordinary people an extraordinary grace, authority and power to fulfill that role. It was an anointing that signified a greater heavenly anointing from God that gave them ability above and beyond their natural ability. It was an anointing that lifted them from earthly to spiritual, from people who lived on the earth to those that now stood in between heaven and earth with authority to minister, pray for, speak to and rule over not just God’s people but also the nations beyond them.
Anointed ones had power and authority to do what no one else could do, because they were called and chosen and empowered by God to do so.
But right from the beginning of the Psalms, we are introduced to Someone who is not just anointed by men for a particular task, but is the anointed of God, Masiyah.
Instead of referring to certain people of earth who are chosen and given special power and authority to stand between God and mankind, it seems to be referring to Someone who is coming from heaven. That One is coming to do the same things as the anointed ones of earth. He will stand between man and God as our great High Priest. He will speak to the earth as Prophet. He will rule over all the nations of the earth as King.
This isn’t the anointing of an ordinary person for an extraordinary task. This isn’t lifting someone beyond their natural abilities to do something that they couldn’t do in their own strength. This is Someone who comes from heaven and He can do everything He is tasked by God because he is not, by nature, ordinary, He is naturally supernatural. He is perfectly capable of fulfilling God’s purposes because He is perfect. He is immediately introduced to us, as we shall see, as the Son of God and His anointing does not signify who He is to become, but who He already is.
We begin to realise that all of the previous anointed ones were not just ends in themselves, people specifically chosen and graced to do a particular job at a particular time. No, they have a much bigger purpose than the one God gave them in their generation. They have been chosen as anointed ones primarily to be a forerunner, a veiled reflection, a shadow of One who is yet to come, though He already exists. The main purpose of their lives has not been to fulfill their own ministry but to prepare a way for the truly Anointed One who is to follow. Their highest call has not been to fulfill their duties on earth but to point people towards the Prince of Heaven who is to become King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
John the Baptist was the last in line of these pre-Messiah anointed ones and he fulfilled the role better than any before him. He knew that his ministry was simply to make way for Someone greater, Whose sandals he was not fit to untie.
And so we come to the Psalms and the term Masiyah, “Anointed of God”, changes from simply describing something that happened to someone at some time in their lives to set them apart and empower them for a particular God given purpose in their generation. Now it becomes a name, a title, that is used to describe just One particular person who has always been set apart and has all the power and is being given all the authority necessary to fulfill all of God’s purposes for all nations for all time. The Anointed One. Messiah.
This, then is the fourth use of the word for anointed one in the Old Testament, the person who is called that name, the Messiah.
4) The Messiah (a prophet, priest and King)
The process of anointing becomes a Person, “The Anointed of God” in Psalm 2. In Hebrew it is “Masiyah”.
“The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed (Hebrew Masiyah)” (Psalm 2:2)
Messiah is partially hidden from our view because these verses can seem to refer to David’s own anointed kingship. But, in the context, they are obviously speaking of One who is even beyond Israel’s greatest King, David, in every way.
This Messiah is described as the “begotten” Son of God.
“The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Psalm 2:7
This, of course, is the same language as John uses to describe the Logos in John 1:14.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This King is more than the King of Israel, He will rule the nations of the world.
“ Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2:8)
And all the Kings of the earth will either bow down to Him or be destroyed by Him.
” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:10-12)
This Messiah is anointed with all power and authority to rule everyone, everywhere for all time.
That is a very basic and shortened background to what Andrew meant when he said to his brother Simon: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
He could say that with such conviction because John the Baptist had testified about Him that He was the Son of God.
“ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:34)
When John the Baptist said this with such confidence, he was affirming that this man whom he had just baptised was the King prophesied in Psalm 2. He was that Son of God, begotten of the Father.
He was the “Anointed of God” not because someone had poured oil on Him. No man ever did, that we know of. Jesus didn’t need the acknowledgement or anointing of men. He had been anointed directly by His Father when the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Him. In so doing, His Father affirmed Him as the great King who would rule all other Kings and bring every other Kingdom in submission to His own. He was the real “Anointed One”, the Messiah.
The pre-Messiah anointed ones had a greater purpose than ever they knew. They were pointing the way to the great Anointed One, the Messiah. As we have said, John the Baptist was the last and greatest of that line and he did his job wonderfully well not just by pointing Him out, but by preparing people to receive Him and then stepping out of the way to let the real Anointing through.
Now he sends his disciples to follow that Messiah. It was a once-for-all-time opportunity to follow a King who was greater than David and Solomon and all the Kings of the earth combined. They were a mere shadow of who this Messiah was and what He would become. A Prophet greater than Moses and Samuel and Elijah and Elisha and Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the other prophets right up to John the Baptist combined. They were merely dim reflections of who this Messiah is because they spoke the words of God but He is the Word of God. A priest greater than Aaron and Levi and all their descendants combined because they were merely a forerunner of all that this Messiah will be and do as our Great High Priest.
This wasn’t a man of earth, anointed and lifted to stand between heaven and earth. This was the Son of God from heaven, anointed to come to earth and become a man and walk among us and live and serve and die and rise again and ascend to the great throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all mankind, for all time.
When Andrew gets it, the first thing he does is go to find Jesus. The next thing he does is go to find his brother Simon and when he finds him, he has the most wonderful news to share with him. Amazing life changing, all-lives-changing news.
“We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
His excitement must have been incredible.
John the Baptist was not the last of the anointed ones. Now, in Christ, in Messiah, in The Anointed One, there is a whole new community of anointed ones. Not specially chosen ones from among God’s family but everyone in God’s family. We are all anointed ones. Anointed of God. Ordinary people given extraordinary grace, power and authority to stand between heaven and earth and fulfill God’s purposes in our generation. We still have particular anointings for particular roles, we do not all have the same function or need the same anointing, but we are all anointed none the less.
And the primary reason for the anointing remains the same as our Old Testament predecessors. Our anointing, first and foremost and above all else, is not for our ministry and call in our generation but it is still to point people towards the Anointed One of heaven who is yet to return a second time to fulfill His call as the Messiah. He will come to bring to completion all the purposes of God for every generation and for every nation.
Pointing people towards Him and calling people to meet Him is still our primary purpose.
“We have found the Messiah”.Posted on: May 25, 2018Peter Todd