And His Name Shall Be Called: The Christ
Tuesday, December 3 2019
“And Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told Him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-29)
“The Christ” is a title, not a name – the Greek version of the Hebrew word, “Messiah”. Literally, it means “The Anointed One”.
As we read in the previous reflection, the New Testament opens with the genealogy of Jesus Christ as written in the Gospel of Matthew – and Matthew continues telling the story of the birth of this Jesus Christ. That is to say: Jesus The Christ, Jesus The Messiah – His name plus His official title.
It was old Simeon, righteous and devout and with the Holy Spirit upon him, who recognized the baby Jesus when His parents brought Him to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord there. When he took the baby in his arms, he blessed God for having permitted him to see “the Lord’s Christ”, the long-awaited Messiah.
And why “Anointed”? Because, in Old Testament Hebrew society, the act of anointing with oil was what was done to set apart and consecrate certain people for the offices of prophet, priest and king: Elijah anointed Elisha as a prophet of God – Moses anointed Aaron as high-priest – and Samuel anointed David as king. Anointing was a symbol of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the chosen.
But the Old Testament also pointed towards another Man who would come and be anointed with an unlimited measure of the Holy Spirit, with unequalled power and matchless glory. This Man would have an eternal and limitless anointing. He would be the definitive and perpetual “Anointed One” – the three in one: Prophet, Priest and King – The Messiah, The Christ.
In the Gospel of Luke, Peter’s response to Jesus’ question about His identity – “... who do you say that I am?” – was not just “The Christ”, but “The Christ of God”. He was “The Anointed One” who belonged to God in heaven, but “The Anointed One” who was sent to earth on our behalf.
Dear friend: if Jesus were to ask you the same question today that He asked His disciple Peter over 2000 years ago: “… who do you say that I am?” – would you answer like Peter did: “You are The Christ, The Messiah of God.”? I hope and I pray so.
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