In these articles we’ve been looking at the names of God and how his names help us understand him better. This week I want to look at the name, ‘Christ’, which is used to refer to the Son of God.
The name ‘Christ’ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ which means ‘an anointed one’.
Anointed ones in the Old Testament were usually people who had oil poured on them in order to consecrate them for a particular divine office. For example, the prophet Samuel anointed David as King of Israel in 1 Samuel 16. And Moses gave instructions to anoint priests in Exodus 29. So there were actually many ‘Messiahs’ or ‘Christs’ in the Old Testament performing all kinds of work for God.
But over time there came to be an understanding that God would send ‘The Messiah’. He would be vastly different from the others and would deliver God’s people from all oppression for all eternity.
For example, in Psalm 2 we read: ‘Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him’ (Psalm 2:1-12).
Isaiah the prophet also prophesied about the Messiah: ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD 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 freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…’ (Isa. 61:1). In Luke 4, Jesus applied these words to himself.
So what does it mean that Jesus is ‘The Christ’? It means he is God’s promised deliverer with power to save his people. The apostle Peter said: ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power’ (Acts 10:38). Thus Jesus was anointed and appointed to the offices of prophet, priest and king. This anointing was to save his people from sin and death and judgement and Satan and this corrupt world for all eternity.
But how do you have Jesus as your Christ, your Messiah, your anointed one? Simply by faith. The Apostle John says: ‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God’ (1 John 5:1). If you believe that Jesus is the Christ sent by God, you are delivered by him from all your enemies. He becomes your prophet, your priest and your king for all eternity.
So, is Jesus your Christ, your Messiah, your anointed one?