In the time when Jesus of Nazareth lived there existed a great deal of political unrest. The Jews were tired of Roman rule and occupation, and some were actively seeking a change. For those who were of a religious bent, there was fodder for their discontent: religious scripture included a prophecy about a new, just king arising from their land. The new king would be ordained by the Lord himself, a shining knight who would save them from the crummy situation in which they found themselves – nothing less than a messiah.
So it should come of no surprise that Jesus was not the only “messiah” of his day. Not by a long shot. There was Simon of Peraea, a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled and was killed by the Romans; Athronges, a shepherd turned rebel leader; Theudas who attempted a short-lived revolt against the Romans before being slain; and many others.
So how is it that we believe, so many years later, that Jesus was and is the real Messiah? How did he win out? Why do we claim that he is the Good Shepherd, The Son of God – even God himself? He won no war and led no army. The government was not upon his shoulders. It executed him for treason.
For many believers, faith is belief in truth beyond reason. We believe what Jesus said and did to be true because somewhere, in our heart of hearts, we have been convicted by the Spirit. We hear the voice of the Shepherd and we follow. We believe, quite simply, because that is what the Lord created us to do.