Christology 101 (Part 2): The Theological Significance of Jesus’ Messianic Title
The main character in the Scriptures, as well as all human history, is Jesus Christ.
Since people today typically have a first and last name, we might assume that Jesus is his first name and Christ is his last name.
However, until about the 10th century AD, people typically had one given name.
If they had a surname (last name), it was connected to their father or city of residence.
For example, in the New Testament, we read of:
- Simon son of Jonah,
- Saul of Tarsus, and
- Jesus of Nazareth.
This is to say, Christ is not Jesus’ last name. 🙂
In John 1:41, Andrew tells Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ).” In saying, the Messiah, Andrew identifies the term Christ not as a personal name, but as Jesus’ Messianic title.
The term Christ is transliterated from the Greek word Christos, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew word, Messiah (Māšîaḥ, מָשִׁיחַ) which means “anointed one.”
To be “anointed” is to be chosen by God and consecrated (set apart) for a special purpose. For example, Kings and priests were ceremonially anointed to serve in their specific roles.
The special purpose for Jesus was announced by the angel to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, who declared the name of Mary’s child should be Jesus because his mission was to “save his people from their sins.”
By the first century, many Jews were expecting a powerful Messiah-King to deliver them from Roman oppression.
This is one of the major reasons the crowds turned from seeking to crown Jesus to wanting him crucified.
In John 6:14–15, after Jesus feeds the five thousand, the people recognize him as “the Prophet who is to come into the world,” referring to a Messianic figure.
Their response is to try to take him by force and make him king, revealing their expectation of a political…