Most of us are so familiar with the title “Christ” that we tend to consider it part of Jesus’ personal name. But what exactly does it mean? Like “Messiah,” “Christ means the “anointed one.” The phrase “anointed one” refers to someone who has been set apart for a special mission. That was hot the first Christians thought about Jesus. As Israel’s Messiah, He was the greatest of all kings, the One called and empowered to destroy God’s enemies and extend His kingdom throughout the earth. His mission was to put an end to our deepest troubles—to rebellion, sin, and death. When we pray to Jesus Christ, we are praying to the Messiah, the Anointed One, whose mission involves calling the world back to God through the power of His love.
Acts 2:22-24, 32-33, 36-38
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. … This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. … “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, my Messiah, I praise You for triumphing over the powers of sin and death. Thank You for allowing Yourself to be raised up on a cross and then raised from the grave. Cover me with Your forgiveness, and fill me with Your Spirit so that my one purpose will be to glorify You now and forever. Amen.
Understanding the Name
Many ancient peoples believed that oil rubbed onto the body could impart strength, health, and beauty. Since oil was a staple of life in biblical times, used for lighting, cooking, medicine, cosmetic purposes, hygiene, and hospitality, it served as a symbol of both wealth and joy. An abundance of oil was evidence of God’s pleasure. Scarcity symbolized his displeasure.
Oil was also used for sacred purposes, such as consecrating altars and vessels for worship, indicating that they had been set apart for the Lord’s purposes. People could also be anointed and set apart. Though some of Israel’s high priests were anointed when they took office, Israel’s kings, especially those descended from David were anointed rather than crowned. According to rabbinic tradition, oil (olive oil mixed with spices like cinnamon, calamus, and myrrh) was poured on their heads in a circle to form a crown. This anointing signified the king’s right to rule. It meant that God has blessed him with authority, strength, and honor.
When the prophet Samuel anointed David as king, David was also given the gift of the Spirit and accorded the Lord’s special protection. In time, oil became a symbol for the Holy Spirit, who imparts divine favor, power, and protection. …
The New Testament identifies Jesus as Christ, the “Anointed One,” no less than 530 times. Jesus, however, was not anointed with oil but with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan River. … Like no king before Him, He was called to heal the rift between God and His people. Christ fulfilled His mission as the ideal king in a completely unexpected way, confounding His contemporaries, who expected the Messiah to be a powerful earthly king who would deliver Israel from its enemies. … Finally, shortly before His death, He answered the high priest’s question:“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” With a startling confession: “I am.”
Studying the Name
Describe in your own words what it means to say that Jesus was anointed, or set apart for God’s service. Why do you think the Acts 2 passage speaks about the need for repentance and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? What do you think it means for believers to be anointed or set apart for Christ’s service? How have you experienced this anointing in your own life? What do you think it means to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?