Most of us employ term “Jesus Christ” without even concerning ourselves with the underlying meaning, but did you know that “Jesus Christ” is not the name of the Savior? Now, calm down, I am not going to get weirdly heretical on you, here’s the deal. His name is “Jesus.” Matthew 1:21 predicted, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew tells us that Mary was instructed to give him this moniker and she did just that in Matthew 1:25. “Jesus” is the Hellenized (Greek) version of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.”
So, why do we Call him “Jesus Christ”, or “Christ”? The reason is that this term “Christ” identifies His title; this refers to Him being the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. But wait! Matthew 1:16 tells us, “Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” So, what’s the deal? Is He “Jesus”? “Christ”? Or the “Messiah”? It seems a little complicated.
Okay, so let’s clear this up. Christ is a Greek term that means “anointed one.” The Hebrew equivalent is the term messiah. Remember, Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament, Greek the language of the New Testament. So, both of these expressions are referring to who Jesus is in function, not His name. You see the Messiah of mankind was long prophesied in the Old Testament; this Messiah would be the great Savior who would offer peace between people and their Creator, in essence a restored relationship damaged because of sin. Since Jesus Himself was the true fulfillment of those some 300+ prophecies, we call Him “Messiah” or “Christ.” Whew!
So, what’s the meaning behind “anointed”? Often in the Old Testament, a person, such as a prophet, priest, judge or king was anointed with oil. This was an external sign that the will of God was upon him, and that he had the blessing of God Almighty to aid in the fulfillment of his mission.
Well, in regards to Jesus, the anointing simply means that Jesus would be identified as this Redeemer by a very special anointing – we subsequently learn that this anointing is the Holy Spirit (Mathew 3:16-17), “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” It is this anointing that “empowers” Jesus to fulfill His earthly ministry, and is God’s public pronouncement of heavenly affirmation.
Each time we speak “Jesus Christ” we are affirming both that this Jesus is God incarnate (“the Lord saves”), and indeed was sent by God, and anointed by the Holy Spirit to perform His divine mission (“the Christ”). This redemptive work is “completed” in each of our lives as we acknowledge who He is by yet another title, that of “Lord.”
When we identify Him as our Lord Jesus Christ, we receive the benefit of His work, we accept His lordship in our lives, and we identify ourselves as having bowed the knee to His position of authority, and we look forward to a fully restored eternal relationship with God.
So, who is Jesus to you?