When we say ‘Jesus Christ,’ we should be thinking ‘Jesus the Messiah’: the promised Priest, King, and Prophet, the one God anointed to redeem us.
Today we enter the second week of Advent, a season set aside to dwell on “Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.” As Christians, we believe Jesus is the anointed Messiah, the Davidic king, the Christ. But how did we arrive at such a massive claim?
Historically, this has proven to be no small debate. If Christ is the long-awaited Messiah, why does the Old Testament have so few unambiguous texts we can point to as proof? In his detailed investigation of the origins of messianism, New Testament scholar Joseph Fitzmyer goes so far as to conclude that hopes of a messianic figure within Judaism intensified only after the Old Testament canon closed. And even when the term “messiah” is used in the Old Testament, it often has nothing to do with a single messianic figure.
So how did the apostles and the earliest Christians arrive at such a clear link, claiming with confidence that the Jesus born in Bethlehem was the Anointed King? To answer this question, and to better understand what we celebrate in Advent, I turn it over to Dr. Don Carson, co-founder and president of The Gospel Coalition. He joins us over the phone to answer the Advent question “What child is this?”