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Catechism Class: LD12A,Q31 – Why do you call Him Christ?


Why do you Call Jesus, ‘Christ’

In this lesson we will be looking at Lord’s Day 12, Q31, which asks, Why is He  (Jesus) called “Christ,” that is, Anointed?  And the answer we must give is Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Ghost to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father; and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.  Read Matthew. 16:13-20, So, why DO we call Jesus ‘CHRIST?’

As Christians we often, rightly, refer to our Saviour, as the Lord Jesus Christ.  Why is this important? ‘Christ’ is not a surname! The word ‘Christ’ is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, and it means ‘the Anointed One’.  That’s what is so astonishing about Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16.  Jesus asked the disciples a question: “Who do people say that I am?”   Peter’s response was impetuous, more spontaneous and more heartfelt.  He said out loud what everyone else was thinking – You are the CHRIST!  The word Christ could equally be translated “MESSIAH.”  The Jews had been expecting a Messiah for many centuries, a deliverer sent from God who would lead them into God’s kingdom, restore Israel’s fortunes, and establish his righteous kingdom in the world.  Peter knew that Jesus was the expected Messiah – although HOW he would achieve those aims was going to be greatly different from what any of those disciples imagined that day.  Peter knew that Jesus was the Messiah ordained of God, and anointed with the Holy Ghost.   And that is how the catechist begins his answer to the question, “Why do you call Him CHRIST.”   We call Jesus ‘Christ’ because he is ordained of God and anointed, with the Holy Ghost.  But what does that mean?

What is Anointing

  1. Anointing in the Old Testament.  In OT, anointing was most frequently seen as the function of the prophet, when that prophet anointed someone or something with oil, for service.  For example In the tabernacle in the wilderness.  Exodus 30:25-29. Or in preparation for service/kingship.  1 Samuel 16:13   
  1. Anointing in the New Testament.  Jesus was anointed with oil by a sinful woman at a Pharisee’s house; the women wanted to  anoint his body in death.  Always, anointing was about doing God’s service.  Jesus quoted from Isaiah and applied it to himself when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”  
  2. Anointing symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  Like oil, the Holy Spirit is said to be ‘poured out’ upon God’s people. Isaiah 59:20-21   

Sometimes we hear Pentecostal Christians warning us not to ‘touch the Lord’s anointed.’  I’ve heard this a lot from Pentecostal and charismatic circles, in recent years.  It’s a misapplication of two identical texts, 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15. In Jesus, God has finally spoken to us.  Hebrews 1:1-2,  Jesus IS the anointed one, as prophesied by Isaiah, in Isaiah 61:1-2  What could be clearer?  The role of the OT prophets as the ‘anointed ones’ of God has been superseded by the Anointed One himself, the Lord Jesus.  People who think that they are modern day ‘anointed ones’ are at best led astray, and at worst are actually false Christs, claiming to be little gods, little ‘Messiahs.’   

What is Jesus Anointed FOR? Hebrews 1:8-9 Anointing was an act of consecration setting someone apart for service, and since Jesus is said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, what was He being anointed to do?  Three things:-

  • Prophet.  Acts 3: 22     The main task of a prophet, in the Old Testament, was to declare the will of God – sometimes that would involve foretelling future events. In Jesus, God’s will is completely declared and revealed, and no further revelation is necessary.  Remember that verse, in Hebrews 1:1-2.  The catechist reminds us that as our prophet, Christ is:
    • Our CHIEF prophet.  While the work and words of the OT prophets are to point us to the Messiah who has come, we are not to cast them aside.  The OT is God’s revelation to us, part of the inspired and infallible Word of God, and we are learn from it, especially we are to let those prophets teach us about Christ – but he is our CHIEF prophet, in that only he has fully revealed God the Father to us.     John 1:18  
    • Our teacher.  We are to hear all things that he says to us.  We are to listen to his word and to obey him, for only he has the words of eternal life.  John 6:67-68.And that teaching has been preserved for us in the words of Holy Scripture.  So the catechist adds, ‘who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.’
  • Priest.  He is our priest.  There were two important jobs that a priest did:-:
  • To offer sacrifice.  Could animal sacrifices in the OT tabernacle or temple cleanse us from sin, after all, their purpose was to foreshadow the coming Messiah, who would shed his blood for sinners?   Hebrews 10:1-4. Jesus would offer himself, as a sinless sacrifice on the cross. 1 Peter 2:24  
  • To intercede for his people. He prays for us! He is our Intercessor, who presents outer prayers and praises before God.  Hebrews 7:19-28, Hebrews 7:25. Christ’s intercession is effective for us because he is alive, forever and ever, and his intercession will never cease and never fail.
  • King.  A king has two primary functions:-
    • He governs us.  We need rules!  So for our own good, our heavenly king rules over us, in a kingdom of peace that shall endure.   See HOW he governs us.  Most monarchs keep their subjects in order by some element of force.  Jesus rules his Kingdom by means of His Word and His Spirit.   
    • He defends us. The second function of a king is to provide a defence for his subjects, so that, living in peace and security they are able to live productive lives.  Jesus gives us security, for having brought us into his heavenly kingdom, through his saving work, he also keeps us safely within it.  Luke 1:33  

© Bob McEvoy September 2021

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