“But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:63‬ ‭

What is understood by the Christ? Who is he or who did he represent?

The Christ appears to be a coequal or a derivative or equivalent to God. For why would they have been so offended? If the Christ were an angel merely, I doubt they would have had the same reaction.

Claiming to be an angel surely was not considered blasphemous.

The high priests were anticipating a Christ. From what OT Scriptures would we derive who this Christ should be. Implied in John’s response they inquired if John the Baptizer was the Christ.

“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭

They even associate the Christ as being the “”son of “”

“But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭14:61‬ ‭

Why was Christ supposed to be the son of the Blessed of the son of God?

““If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:67‬ ‭

Who was the Christ to the high priests and the elite religious class of his day that claiming to be the Christ was considered blasphemous and worthy of death?

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    Sorry but the other supposed duplicate is asking why the Messiah is the same as the Son of God. Nothing to do with my question. My question again is this, What did THE Messiah represent, mean, imply to the religious leaders? Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 20:11

4 Answers 4


The view of the Messiah depended on Sadducee, Pharisee, and the common people (עַמֵּ֖י הָאֲרָצ֑וֹת)


The priesthood were composed of Sadducees. They only held the Torah (Pentateuch) as authoritative, but the Messiah was in the other parts of the Tanach (Old Testament). The Sadducees had secured the priesthood in Jerusalem by being in league with the Romans. The saw anyone claiming to be the Messiah, the Christ, as a revolutionary against Rome and a threat to the nation and Temple.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. (John 11:49–50, ESV)


The Pharisees expected the Messiah, but Judea had seen may false messiahs that caused trouble with Rome. Thus, they felt the need look for any reason to discredit anyone claiming to be a messiah to eliminate false messiahs.

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:19–22, ESV)

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47–48, ESV)

The Pharisees looked at the common people as gullible to false messiahs who were dangerous.

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:45–49, ESV)

They rightly considered the Messiah would be perfect (unable to discredit) and have supernatural power to overcome Rome, but did not see how their own imperfections blocked their view: their imperfect view of the Law and their desire for a different sign, ignoring his miracles.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:17–20, ESV)

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (John 2:18, ESV)

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:11–12, ESV)

If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:23–24, ESV)

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (John 9:24–34, ESV)

After raising Lazarus from the dead:

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (John 11:45–46, ESV)

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matt. 28:11–15, ESV)

Common People

The Messiah was the continuation of the line of David and the king who would conquer the nations and free Israel.

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49, ESV)

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (Matt. 16:21–22, ESV)

He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:33–34, ESV)

  • When asking about ‘what the Jews thought’, the question is too broad, even impossible. So I think your on the right path (looking at the groups) - except the ‘common people’ didn’t count - at all. (Arguably) - they were willing to accept Messiah, but always looked to the leaders (Sanhedrin) to decide for them. The only other large grouping (Zealots etc to one side) were the Essenes - who both expected the Messiah at exactly that time, and recognised him. Nevertheless +1 for being ‘on track’.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 2:00
  • The question revolves entirely around this ”Thus, they felt the need look for any reason to discredit anyone claiming to be a messiah to eliminate false messiahs.” identifying the true messiah, what were they (specifically the Pharisees) looking for? That’s it what characteristics, attributes, indicators were they looking for in THE genuine Messiah? Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 2:27
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    @Nihil I added more
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:50

Who was Christ to the religious leaders of His day?

Perhaps we might find a very good example of such a man in Nicodemus (Jn. 3). He was a Pharisee, the most religiously "correct" among the Jews. We learn about the nature of the Pharisees in the Book of Acts (26:5) where the apostle Paul was standing in his defense.

The problem with the Pharisees was that, although they pretended to obey the Law of Moses, they went overboard instead binding man-made traditions to a much greater extent than was required by God. As today, the Pharisees appeared to believe that God's Law should change with the culture of the day. To their credit, they were far more conservative in their doctrine than the Sadducees, those who denied the existence of spirits and any bodily resurrection.

Nicodemus was among a very select few Pharisees who were written about favorably in the N/T (Joseph of Arimathea being another). The Gospel of Matthew (chapter 23) contains some of the most scathing rebukes of the Pharisees perhaps ever written. Nicodemus' Greek name suggests that he was born outside Palestine and seems both powerful and wealthy. In fact, since he is called "ruler" by Christ, it is most likely that he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Jewish Law. By referring to Christ as "Teacher," he was yielding to Christ as an admission of the Savior's greater authority over him.

Here is where we see the role of Christ to the religious leaders of His day. To those like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others, Jesus was no mere teacher. It was obvious to those with an ounce of faith that Christ had been sent by God. (To those w/o faith, Christ was perceived as an obvious threat to their power, as well as their relationship to the Romans.) While they had yet to recognize just how special Jesus was, there is little doubt they were transfixed on His prowess including His miraculous abilities - not least of which often left people in a quasi-hypnotic stupor. This was the case with the temple guard who returned without having arrested Him because "Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks" (Jn. 7:46).

Christ was unlike any other teacher the Jews had ever seen. He spoke the truth. He was authoritative in His speech, and commanded a genuineness that no one else could previously have offered. Even His enemies recognized that His teaching was impartial; He conveyed His message plainly. His parables could be received by honest, faithful souls while excluding his detractors from understanding. Lastly, His Message was compassionate as demonstrated with the sinful woman, possibly a prostitute, that came to wash his feet at a dinner party.

The miracles Christ performed, whether they be supernatural, "mighty works," "wonders" (having special effect on observers), or "signs" (pointing to an object greater than itself), all demonstrated Christ's identity as the promised Messiah. All told, some have estimated that Jesus performed upwards of 35 such supernatural signs. Using hyperbolic language, the apostle John suggests that there were many more things that could be written about them (Jn. 21:25). As well, miracles are especially scarce in John's account.

Cumulatively, the evidences observed by the Pharisees was more than enough to convince them (Nicodemus uses the term "we know" (Jn. 3:2)) that Christ had "come from God" (3:2). Even His enemies were not so blind as to overlook that central point. If Nicodemus, the teacher (3:10, i.e. not just any teacher) was persuaded of Christ's true identity, what does that say about the rest of the religious aristocracy, and their appraisal of Messiah?

  • Just to be clear I’m not asking who was Jesus Christ, in asking who was The Christ that they were waiting for to them? The Christ from the OT that they knew about and were expecting, who was he and what did he represent for them? I’m not asking for a description of Jesus who happened to be the Christ, but I’m asking in theory, based on their readings what qualities, characteristics was this Christ supposed to have and represent to the religious leaders? Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 11:09
  • @NihilSineDeo Thanks for the clarification Nihil. I'm sorry that my response was not that which you had expected. I've misread other questions and have fallen short of the main point(s) being asked before; I need to be more attentive.
    – Xeno
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 17:27

Who was Christ to the religious leaders of his day?

A physical descendant of his ancestor, David, one of Israel's first kings, to whose dynasty or lineage most of its subsequent rulers belonged, meant to drive out gentile oppressors, and reinstall the observance of the sacred Mosaic law, thus securing its divine blessings for all upcoming generations.

The question you should have rather asked is:

Who was Christ to Jesus?

To which the answer can be glimpsed from the context of the afore-quoted passages:

Matthew 26:63-65 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Mark 14:61-64 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

Luke 22:67-71 Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.

John 18:35-37 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou says that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.

An earthly ruler, versus a heavenly one; concerning the latter, the Jews were unanimous there could be but one heavenly king, God:

John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

just as there could only be one earthly ruler; in this case, the Roman Caesar; indeed, to have suggested otherwise would have been sheer treason:

John 19:15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

As we know from the writings of Josephus, when the latter tried to usurp the authority of the former, riots broke out. Note that the Jews of Christ's time had no problem with earthly fathers, or earthly kings; indeed, Abraham himself is mentioned as a physical ancestor in John 8, referenced earlier; but he did not try to usurp divine fatherhood for himself :

John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

as Jesus is known to have done:

Matthew 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

In case the latter is not clear, note that Jesus does not also say call no man your Master upon the earth: for one is your Master, which is in heaven, nor does he merely say call no [one] your father in heaven [other than God]. And if one were to object, saying that it is quite possible to have one heavenly Father, God, and one earthly Master, Christ, remember:

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

We see the same idea reflected later on, in the second greatly-detailed Christian martyrdom, that of Stephen:

Acts 7:55-58 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.


What is understood by the Christ? Who is he or who did he represent?

Luke 2:11 Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!

Christ is the Savior.

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Christ is the Son of God.

“But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”” ‭‭

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