The Promised Messiah

the promised messiah


As I was doing some reading in Mark, I came across the title of one of the chapters as “Jesus Predicts His Death the Third Time.” Hmmm. Three times. So I went back and looked at the other two predictions. That started me thinking about why it was so hard for the disciples to truly understand Jesus’ ministry.  My understanding was that the Jews were looking for the promised Messiah to save them from Roman domination, taxes, etc.  So when Jesus was crucified, it was not what they were expecting. Their king wasn’t supposed to die, he was supposed to live to save them; not die to save them.

Messiah In The Bible

I decided to look up the “Messiah” in the Old Testament and see what some of the prophecies were and why there was so much confusion. So take a guess at how many times the “Messiah” is referenced in the Old Testament. No, really, take a guess. I’ll wait…….

Humming Jeopardy theme song here……

Zero. Yes, absolutely none. If you already knew this, then you are way smarter than me. I expected to go through a plethora of verses, maybe some obscure or bare bones of information, but there, under “Messiah,” I would be led to all the verses explaining it all. And I was wrong.

What Messiah Did The Jews Expect?

So let’s take a quick look at what the disciples and Jewish people were expecting from the Promised Messiah:
Messiah – in Hebrew “Mashiah”, and in Greek “Christos”- means “anointed one”. The term anointed one in the OT could be used for any prophet, priest, or king who was consecrated to their position with oil. “The Lord’s anointed” refers to the king of the line of David. Psalm 17:23 “Behold, O Lord and raise up for them their king, the son of David that he may reign over Israel.”

•In Jesus’ time, the Jews hadn’t heard a peep from God through the prophets in over 400 years. They were anxious for their “anointed one” to come and save them from the Romans, taxes, and to reclaim the power they had under King David. In that same Psalm, v25-“ he may purge Jerusalem from nations that trample her down to destruction.”

•Here are a few more examples: Even as far back as Genesis 3:15- the Promised Messiah would be the seed of a woman- he would come in human form. Deuteronomy 18:15- “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet”.

•OK, I get it, those are pretty generic descriptions. The Psalms have quite a few references that give a bit more detail. Psalm 2 gives a perfect description of Jesus as their king. Jeremiah 31: 31 tells the Israelites about a “new covenant” that will replace the old established covenant God made with their ancestors. Isaiah 52:13-14 tells of a servant who will act wisely but his appearance would be “disfigured” beyond that of any man (will suffer).

There are many, many more prophecies, but I wanted you to get a picture of maybe why the disciples needed such a clear picture of who Jesus was. They were looking for a prophet, a servant who suffers, a triumphant king and a redeemer from their sin. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle as to who the Anointed One might be. We have the advantage of already knowing that Jesus was Israel’s Promised Messiah; they did not. So I guess now I can see how they might be a bit confused.

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Jesus Predicts His Death

Now let’s look at Jesus’ three predictions of his death and resurrection. He had alluded to it before, but more symbolically and somewhat veiled. Maybe sensing they needed a clearer picture, he gives them specific details.

His First Prediction:

Mark 8:31- “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Peter immediately takes a disliking to this version of the Promised Messiah, and “rebukes” Jesus. In turn, Jesus uses some pretty strong language of his own- “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”- v33.

Peter (and the rest of the disciples) needed to know that he was going to suffer, but that it didn’t represent defeat, but victory!  They were only seeing a worldly view of their king.

His Second Prediction:

Mark 9:31- Jesus takes the disciples for some private instruction. He tells them “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” The disciples still didn’t understand, “but were afraid to ask him about it.” 

I take comfort from this verse.  This was a difficult teaching for the disciples. It wasn’t sinking in. They did not want to hear that Jesus was going to die. The other takeaway: don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand something. It’s how we grow in our faith.

His Third Prediction:

Mark 10:33-34 – they were on their way to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus again takes the disciples aside and instructs them: “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Can you see the progression in the details Jesus is giving his disciples? He needed them to know and understand this teaching. According to Luke’s version of this third prediction, the disciples still did not get it. This talk of his death would go against all the things they had been waiting for. Maybe they just couldn’t get past that part. Maybe they just didn’t want to believe it…

Jesus Predicts His Resurrection

Jesus’ predictions must have been common knowledge to all.  The chief priests and Pharisees gathered together after Jesus was buried.  They asked Pilate to secure the tomb. Matthew 27:62-64 “We remember, while he was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.”

To Christians, it may seem that there was overwhelming evidence of Jesus being the Anointed One, the Promised Messiah, that was expected: Son of David, born in Bethlehem, Virgin birth, will arrive in Jerusalem riding on a donkey, etc. The suffering that Jesus endured is spoken of in the Psalms and the entire chapter of Isaiah 53. There is an abundance of prophecy (some say over 300), and Jesus fulfilled every one of them.

Did the disciples exhibit a weak faith? Ignorance? We don’t know. But before we scoff at the disciples, let’s examine our own lives. Do we sometimes question what God is doing in our lives? How often do we succumb to worry and fear? Do we read the news every morning but not his word? (That’s my struggle) Insert your own personal struggle here.

God wants us to have an understanding. He wants us to look back on the tough things in life and see how he was working. I’m grateful he didn’t give up on instructing the Israelites and the disciples. The world now has his teaching at their fingertips to see, read, hear, and learn. Thank you, Lord, for your Word and your divine and infinite patience to them- and us!



“He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24: 44-45

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