“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
— Acts 10:43
Jesus is the Messiah. Amen! But have you ever wondered, “How did people in the first century know that Jesus was the Messiah? What made Jesus stand out?” Throughout history, there have been many men who have claimed to be from God. Even in the book of Acts we are told that there were two men, Theudas and Judas, who made such claims. So how did people in the first century know that Jesus wasn’t an impostor, but rather the long-awaited Messiah? Why were the disciples willing to follow Jesus anywhere?
Centuries before Jesus Christ was born, there were prophets of old who foretold of the day that the Messiah would come. In the Old Testament, there are over 300 prophecies made about the coming Messiah, such as where he would be born, who his ancestors would be, what the circumstances would be around his birth, life and, ultimately, his death. More than 300 times, prophets told Israel how to identify the Messiah.
Have you ever seen a movie where the main character was scheduled to meet someone, but they had no idea what the other person looked like? The two were going to meet at a public place, a restaurant or maybe a park, but they had to come up with a way to identify one another. So, one of the characters begins describing himself and how he could be recognized.
For example, my name is Joe, I am 6’5″, I will be wearing a green shirt, red baseball cap, and jeans (not sure if that matches, but just go with it).
The visitor arrives at the location, which is full of hundreds of people. Trepidation begins to set in as to whether the two will actually find one another.
The visitor sees someone who is 6’5″, but they don’t have a green shirt. Then out of the corner their eye, they see someone who is 6’5″ with a green shirt, but the person doesn’t have a red baseball cap. Eventually you see Joe, 6’5″, green shirt, red baseball cap and jeans. You know it is him, because he fits the description perfectly.
Jesus didn’t wear a green shirt, a red baseball cap or jeans, but Israel still knew he was the Messiah. They knew because Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), to Mary, who was from the line of David ( Isaiah 9:7).
The Old Testament prophets were intentional that nobody would miss the signs of the coming Messiah. It is my prayer that we are not blinded by the glitz and glamour of the holiday season. May we place our attention on the one the prophets spoke of: Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.