Summary: Why is the term ‘Christ’ associated with Jesus’ name? What does ‘Christ’ mean? That is the topic that we will be considering today.
We find that in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as “Jesus Christ” one hundred and thirty-four times. For someone new to the Scriptures, since ‘Christ’ follows ‘Jesus’ so frequently, one might get the idea that ‘Christ‘ is Jesus’ surname or last name. However, there are eighty-six times in the New Testament that we find the two words switched around - “Christ Jesus.” Evidently, Christ is not Jesus’ last name.
So, the question arises - Why is the term ‘Christ’ associated with Jesus’ name? What does ‘Christ’ mean? That is the topic that we will be considering today.
In John 1:41, we find Andrew talking to “his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ).”
Here, we find that Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. These two words ‘Messiah’ and ‘Christ’ mean the very same thing. This is enlightening but it still does not tell us what the two terms mean. The terms ‘Messiah’ and ‘Christ’ mean ‘one who has been anointed.’ It means ‘Anointed One.’
To understand this concept, we need to have a knowledge of the Old Testament. Back in Old Testament times, it was a tradition that when a person was called by God to fulfill a mission or ministry, they began their duties by first being anointed. God would have one of His servants go to the chosen person and they would pour a bottle of oil on their head and say ‘you have been called by God to fulfill a task or ministry.’ When the people saw this person being anointed with oil, they knew that this person was chosen and ordained by God. They knew that they were to be respected because their anointing qualified them for their office.
There were three primary offices that were filled by people chosen by God and set-apart by anointing - prophets, priests and kings.
Exodus 40:12-15, "Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. And you shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me. And you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them; and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing shall qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations."
Leviticus 8:12, 30, “Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him…So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.”
1 Samuel 9:15-17, “Now a day before Saul’s coming, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel saying, ‘About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he shall deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have regarded My people, because their cry has come to Me.’ When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, ‘Behold, the man of whom I spoke to you! This one shall rule over My people.’" 1 Samuel 10:1, “Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, "Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?’”
1 Samuel 16:1, 3, 13, “Now the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons’"… "And you shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you’”….Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.”
1 Kings 19:16, “Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”
So, we see from the Old Testament that if you were chosen by God to be a prophet, priest or king you would be anointed. You would become a messiah or a christ…an ‘anointed one.’ It is an interesting fact that, as you study the Old Testament, you will find that God never chose anyone to fulfill all three offices. No one was ever a prophet, priest and king at the same time. There were a few priests who were also prophets. There were kings that were also prophets. You can find a king that was also a priest. However, you will not find a person who was all three - prophet, priest and king.