What Does “Messiah” Mean?

Jesus Was Chosen as Our Substitute

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Luke 3:15–17, 21-22 (CSB)

15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.”

21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”


Dear fellow redeemed:  How many names do you know for our Savior?  I know people sometimes become confused because we call Him Jesus, Christ, God, Savior, Messiah, Lord, and other names as well.  We use different names to emphasize different aspects of what Jesus has done to save us.

Take “Jesus,” for example.  January 1, eight days after Christmas, is called “The Circumcision and Name Day of Jesus,” because it was on the eighth day that male children were circumcised and also given their names.  He was named Jesus as the angel had commanded Joseph, Matthew 1:21 (CSB) 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The name “Jesus” means “Savior.”

Now, here in our text, we come to know the meaning of the name Christ, “anointed one,” for Here the Lord Jesus was anointed as our replacement, and as the one who would bring forgiveness and salvation to the world.

All that happened here at His baptism.

Here there is a powerful contrast, a powerful juxtaposition: At one and the same time He is anointed as the beloved Son of the Father, and also as one lowly enough to submit to baptism, not as a sinner, but as the One who Isaiah 53:12 (CSB)… was counted among the rebels;       yet he bore the sin of many …

At his Baptism Jesus is clearly MANIFEST as the Messiah,


  1. Announced Already in the Old Testament
  2. Accomplished Now in the New Testament
  3. Anointed as Sinners’ Substitute
  4. OUR Messiah
  5. A Blessed Assurance


  1. Announced Already in the Old Testament

This title of Christ makes a direct link back to the Old Testament. The word “Christ” is Greek. “Messiah” is Hebrew.  Both words mean “Anointed” or “Chosen”. He is the descendent of Eve that was promised to Eve in the Garden of Eden after our first Parents brought us all under the influence of Sin. Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Christ Baptized is the same Christ, the same Messiah foretold throughout the history of the promise: to Noah, to Abraham, and, as an example, to Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, mychosen one in wham I delight; I will put my Spirit on him . . .

The anointing of the Christ (the anointed one, the Messiah) is so central a point of prophecy that it was with that Word that He was known to all who awaited the fulfillment of their hope. He was called the MESSIAH, the anointed one, the chosen one. It was in this way that the disciples spoke of Him, John 1:41 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

     2. Accomplished Now in the New Testament

What was prophesied in the Promises of God, was fulfilled in Christ. It was fulfilled first of all at His conception, as Paul explained to the Galatians (4:4) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

He was chosen for this purpose, even then, though the time of His public ministry had not yet come.

It was here, at His Baptism, that the truth was proclaimed, especially for John the Baptist, who also saw it. 21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

Jesus talked about Himself as the Anointed One, using the words of Isaiah 61, Luke 4:18

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,

Peter  put it this way as quoted in Acts 10:38   …God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Do you see why all of this is important? While people today might be convinced by other evidence (or today go with their feelings!), truth itself demands that the Messiah, the anointed one, be, well, anointed! So He was, and so it is written.


     3.  Anointed as Sinners’ Substitute

What office was He anointed into? Anointing was reserved for kings as well as some priests and prophets.

Here He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and set before all as the Son of God, and the Sinner’s Substitute.

Right from the first, there was no doubt as to who this chosen one was; who He had been from eternity.

No ordinary dove, this dove came from an opened heaven. Because we are spiritually blind, Heaven is ordinarily closed to us. Only occasionally is it opened so that any can see. It was from this unmistakable heaven, not a mere sky, that the dove came.

As Luther remarks, the dove is the sign of peace and reconciliation, which are the work of the Holy Spirit, who brings us to faith and keeps us in the faith.

And there came with the anointment an announcement as to what the anointment was for. As God’s Son Christ is sent out, as no less than God Himself, to do battle with our old adversary the Devil. This is a divine work, and it is the Second person of the Trinity Himself who undertakes this work.

The doctrine of the trinity, and Christ’s position as a person of the Trinity, cannot be more clearly declared.

It was true God who was chosen.  But what was He chosen for? To be our Substitute!  In his Gospel, Matthew records John the Baptist’s attempt to deter Christ, but Christ replied, Matthew 3:15 (CSB) 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized.

But even though He kept the law, He came as our substitute sinner as well. As Isaiah 53:12 says, “He was numbered among the transgressors…”

He took the place of us sinners and replaced our sin with His righteousness. Was His goodness sufficient? The Father Himself said so: And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

Because we are sinners, this means everything to us.  Day by day we face our sin, as Jesus has called us to do, to pray, “Forgive us our sins.”

This isn’t a trivial command.  This world is a mess because of sin – our sin.  Weeds.  Sickness.  Sorrow.  Loneliness.  Poverty.  Disaster.  Don’t think for a minute that these have nothing to do with you.  They are judgments upon the world for sin, and our sin too.

And of course, our sin brings upon us the curse of death – and after death the judgment.

That is why it is so important that Jesus is …

     4. OUR Messiah

When we speak of the anointing of Christ, we are not speaking of some interesting event in the life of Christ, We are talking about Christ being Chosen for you, and for me.

Christ was Chosen to be obedient for us.

Christ was chosen to be counted as the sinner for us – the one who was blamed, the scapegoat for our sins.

He is OURS because we are joined to him by faith, as the Bible says, “Whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life,” and

He is OURS because we are joined to Him in Baptism. for the promise is, Galatians 3:26–27 (CSB) 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.

27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.

He is OURS because we are joined to Him in the Lord’s Supper.  For in the sacrament of the altar we show forth for our own comfort, and before the whole world, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has redeemed the world.

     5. A Blessed Assurance

So what does this anointing of Christ do for us? It gives us the most blessed assurance, that the one who took our place to do battle with sin and death itself was none other than God Himself, who guaranteed victory.

And He not only defeated Satan, but through baptism took our place that we might share in the victory over death and in the certainty of everlasting life.