What does it mean to be the Messiah? What can we learn from Scripture?
First of all it is helpful to know that the word Messiah and the word Christ mean the same thing. Both the Hebrew: Mashiach (translated as Messiah in English) and the Greek: Christos (translated as Christ in English) both mean “anointed.” What we will see is that the Christ (or Messiah) specifies someone as being “Anointed of God”. Let’s look at some examples of from Scripture.
Basic Definition: To be “anointed”.
More specifically: To be appointed for service to God.
The Anointing of Priests
Beginning in Exodus 29:29, Aaron was anointed to be a priest, one who was consecrated, or set apart, to be God’s servant as a priest. (Also see Leviticus 8:12.) The sons of Aaron in Exodus 40:15 were also anointed in the same way as their father to serve God as priest forever. As priests, their service included making offerings for the sins of the people (See Leviticus 4:5, 16). The Day of Atonement (the 10th day of the 7th month according to the Hebrew calendar) is also called Yom Kippur, and we read in Leviticus 16:33 that the priest would make an atonement for the sins of the people. The word atonement means to cover or make reconciliation, i.e. for sin.
Jesus Our High Priest
What we know about Jesus the Messiah is that just as the priest entered the holiest of holies with the blood of the slaughtered Passover lamb, so Christ (the Messiah) entered heaven itself with His own blood for us Hebrews 9:11-12. Whereas the blood offered by the priest were to cover the sins of the people once each year, the blood of Jesus took away the sins forever by means of His once and for all atonement for sins (Heb 7:27, 9:7-28, 1 Pet 3:18). One of the many things it means for Jesus, being “the Anointed One,” or the Messiah, is that only the Messiah could permanently take away sins. God required the Messiah to be “consecrated” or “set apart” to be the One who takes away sins. Jesus, as the Anointed one (Messiah) has been anointed to be our heavenly Priest (Heb 3:1). Knowing Jesus is our Great High Priest, we can be assured that even being without sin Himself, and He fully understands our weaknesses.
The Anointing of Kings
In 1st Samuel 8:16 the Lord told Samuel, a prophet (then called a seer) that he was to anoint Saul as the “prince over His people” and in 1 Samuel 15:1 Samuel told Saul that he had come to anoint him as the King over God’s people Israel. Again to anoint someone is to have them set apart (consecrated to do the work of God). Also in 1 Kings 1:34, Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon to be king over Israel. All of the kings who were appointed by God were anointed by God’s prophets. Because the prophets were doing the service of God, when Elisha the prophet sent one of the sons of the prophets to Jehu, who was to be anointed as King, he gave them this message, “… take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.”
The Messiah is the One Who is both appointed and anointed!
Jesus Our King
Another thing that qualifies Jesus the Messiah is that He has been anointed as a Prince and a King. In Isaiah 9:6, the prophecy concerning the child to be born, who we now know as Jesus, would be called Mighty God and Prince of Peace, among other names. So when we read in 1st Timothy 6:15, it is no surprise Jesus is referred to as the King of Kings. Also in Revelation 19:16 we read that on His robe it will be written, “King of Kings.” Jesus, as the Anointed One (Messiah) has been anointed to be the King of Kings. In John 18:37 the reply Jesus gave to Pilate was that, as a king, He first came to “bear witness to the truth” and that “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” It is in John 19:19 where Pilate wrote, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” nailing it to the cross. One of Jesus’ kingly purposes during His first coming was to bring revelation from God, saying, “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47).
Jesus, Judge of All
Jesus will be the Judge of all. The Apostle John writes, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22), “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27), so “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus, as King, has the authority to execute judgment and this is yet to come (Rev 20:12-15). All mankind is yet to be judged. Fortunately, for those who have already place their faith in Jesus the Messiah “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), however, for those who are still not sure that Jesus is the Messiah, meaning they do not yet believe that God sent His only Son, setting Him apart to do the will of God, and providing salvation by grace through our faith in Jesus, there is still time to escape the judgment of the King, Jesus the Messiah.
Anointed by God
Luke the Evangelist and write of the Gospel of Luke quotes Jesus Who quotes Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 61:1), who wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18; Also read Acts 10:38). That’s also good news for all who are in Christ Jesus (Jesus, the Messiah). We too have received the Holy Spirit, therefore have we have the ability to serve God boldly and faithfully as His children, or as the Apostle Paul writes, “you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father” (Rom 8:15)!
The primary thing we should understand about what it means to be the Messiah is that it is an anointing by God, to be set apart for service to perform the will of God. Jesus is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, and as the Messiah, He was set apart for service to God, therefore, any efforts to serve God apart from the anointing of God are futile. When we think about Jesus as Jesus Christ the Anointed One, we can think of Him as the Messiah, the One whom God anointed for His kingdom program. We can also know that Jesus could not be the Messiah unless, first of all, God had appointed Him, consecrating Him for His service which was, in part, to be our Great High Priest. We should also not view Jesus as being a messiah, but the Messiah, according to the Scriptures. At the same time we ought to consider our own calling to serve God in a similar manner, knowing that since Jesus is our Priest, and as our Priest we can know that He is perfectly faithful to serving as our Priest. He offered Himself as our sacrifice for sin, so we ought to serve faithfully, striving to avoid sin, and seek only to do the will of God on a continual basis.
About the Author
Ron Bingham is a father and grandfather, living in Saginaw, Texas. He gave his life to the Lord, Jesus the Messiah, in 1972 and began studying the Bible extensively from the very beginning of his new life. In 2005 he began studying the Jewish background of the scriptures in order to understand the thought processes, settings and traditions of the Jewish people to understand the scriptures more contextually. He has been a Messianic-Christian teacher and author now for many years.
Here is some related reading for you: Who is the Messiah? 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.