The Jews in ancient times were looking for the “Messiah”—the wise, victorious, ruler whom the prophets had foretold. “Christ,” the Greek word equivalent to the it would become the word most associated with Jesus and carries with it the full hope of the prophecies.
The prophecies told of a descendant of David (“a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” Isa. 11:1), who would be born in Bethlehem, (“O Bethlehem Ephrathah...from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” Mic. 5:2) by virgin birth (“The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” Isa. 7:14).
He would be both priest and ruler (“He shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne…a priest on his throne…the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord” Zech. 6:12-14). And He would care for the poor and for what was right (“With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth...with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” Isa. 11:4).
He would do miracles (“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; and the lame man leap like a deer” Isa. 35:5,6) and preach good news to those who most needed it (“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness to the prisoners” Isa. 61:1).
The people of Jesus’ time took the Messiah prophecies seriously. Jesus’ ministry forced many to consider if He was the one they foretold. (“They said, ‘When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?’” Jn. 7:31).
Though many believed, Jesus showed from the prophecies that He would be rejected (“Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD?” Matt. 21:42; quoting Ps. 118:22). Isaiah also foretold this (“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not” Isa. 53:12).
But in His rejection, He saved us all (“Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him, the iniquity of us all” Isa. 53:46).
From His rejection and death, God raised Him and, as the apostle Peter preached, “Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).