Summary: "Christ" was not Jesus' last name. It was a description of WHO He was. So what does it mean that Jesus is the Christ, and what difference can that make in our lives?
OPEN: St. John’s University is a private religious college in the state of New York, and sometime back someone apparently wrote some graffiti on one of the walls which said this: “Jesus said unto them: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And they replied: ‘You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.’ (pause) And Jesus said: ‘What?’”
Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was and Peter SAID “You are the CHRIST, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16) And Jesus praised Peter for that statement saying that this confession (of Jesus being the Christ) would be the rock upon which the Church would be built. We read that in I Corinthians 3:11 where it says “no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. In fact, there’s an old Gospel hymn that echoes that truth: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is shifting sand.”
(Pause) Peter said to Jesus “you are the CHRIST”
ILLUS: Billy Sunday once declared that “there are 256 names in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”
I’ll have to trust Billy Sunday on that because I’ve never counted the names of Jesus, but it is interesting that perhaps one of the most popular names for Jesus (in the Bible) is THE CHRIST. That title (the Christ) shows up 532 times in the New Testament. The CHRIST… that’s who Jesus is.
Now, what does that mean? Well my name IS Jeff STRITE - Strite is my last name. But when you read “Jesus Christ” in Scripture – Jesus’ last name is NOT CHRIST! Christ was a description of WHO Jesus was. CHRIST was the Greek word for the Hebrew name “Messiah” and Christ (or the Messiah) means “the Anointed One.”
In Jewish culture there were 3 types of people were anointed to have a specific responsibility as prophets and priests and kings. There were the Prophets… like Elisha who was anointed by EliJAH; There were the Priests … like Aaron who was anointed by his brother Moses; and lastly there were the Kings… like King David who was anointed by the prophet Samuel.
Being ANOINTED meant that that person now had authority – they were RECOGNIZED as either a prophet, or a priest, or a king.
Now, what’s interesting is that Jesus came to be anointed to do all 3 of those responsibilities. He was the CHRIST who came to be our prophet and our priest and our King.
As a PROPHET (for example) CHRIST came to declare the will of God.
In Deuteronomy, God told Moses: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” Deuteronomy 18:18-19
Jesus was THAT prophet mentioned in Deuteronomy. Jesus was sent to be our anointed Prophet. But in what way was Christ a Prophet?
Well, first, when Jesus Christ spoke He spoke with AUTHORITY as a prophet would.
ILLUS: If you go Christian book store, you can buy a RED-LETTER edition of Bible. A “red-letter” Bible takes all the words that Jesus said in the New Testament and high-lights them by putting them in red letters. For example – the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is completely in Red letters… because ALL its Jesus’ words.
So, if you had a Red-letter edition of the Bible, everything in Red would be where Jesus spoke with the AUTHORITY of an anointed Prophet. In fact, at the end of the sermon on the Mount we read these words: “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29
So, as a PROPHET Jesus spoke with authority, but Jesus also made prophetic statements about future events. For example: Jesus spoke what would how Jerusalem would be destroyed in 70 A.D.. Jesus’ made such specific descriptions about what would happen in the destruction of the city that when those events happened, Christians left town… because that’s what Jesus warned them to do when they saw those events.
And Jesus spoke of what would happen at the End of the Time at His 2nd coming. In other words, Jesus prophesied like you’d expect a prophet to do - He told about FUTURE events.
But, I want to make something very clear here: EVERY WORD in the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) ALL THE WORDS are the Words of Christ. In fact the entire Bible belongs to Jesus, because Jesus is God in the flesh. And because He was God… the entire Bible is His book, and its words (from beginning to End) are His words. The reason I stress this is because there are false teachers out there who would try to tell you that ONLY the Red-Letter section of the Bible is important because ONLY that section contains the true words of Jesus. But that’s not true. It’s ALL his words. It’s just that in a Red-Letter Bible, the Red Letters are the words of Jesus as our ANOINTED PROPHET.