The Messiah (Christ) – the Anointed - 15 October 2021

By Carina Francke

During the Christmas season, we hear the anointed and blessed Hallelujah chorus of Handel’s Messiah almost everywhere. The incomparable greatness of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is trumpeted through masterful music and song. Yet, if you would ask people what the title “Messiah” means, very few would be able to give you an answer. Are you familiar with the meaning?

The custom in Israel in those days was to ceremonially anoint (mashach) people serving in a certain office (kings, priests, and prophets) with a special oil. On God’s instruction, David was anointed as the new king of Israel by Samuel in this way. Anointing oil was poured out over his head and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power since that day. (1 Samuel 16:13)

God instructed Joseph to call the son Mary would bear, Jesus, “ … because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Where do the names Messiah and Christ fit in? These were titles given to Jesus. Both these names mean “the Anointed”. Thus, if we speak about Jesus Christ or Jesus Messiah, we refer to “the Anointed” – the One who grants repentance and forgiveness to mankind. (Acts 5:31)

Jesus was also anointed before he could start his ministry. At his baptism in water, whilst he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. A voice from heaven declared, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22) Full of the Holy Spirit, he was led into the desert where he was tempted by the devil for 40 days. (Luke 4:1-12) When he returned, he went to the synagogue and declared his mandate, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Do you understand what happened here? The Lord, God himself, anointed Jesus with the Spirit. He could continue his work as Messiah with power and authority. No religious, legalistic leader or evil power can ever bring it to an end.

Handel, the composer of Messiah, experienced something of the true Messiah’s excellence and greatness in his spirit whilst composing this work. In tears, he admitted to his servant afterwards: “Whether I was in my body or outside, I don’t know.” To his boys’ choir, he said, ”I thought I saw heaven before me, and the great God Himself!”

Prayer: Father, thank you that Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promised Saviour. He became the Anointed, the Messiah, the Saviour, for mere “grain of sand” human beings. All praise and honour be to you! Amen