Why is Jesus called Christ?
Is it his last name? Some folks think so, but no, it’s much bigger than that.
Christ is a very important title that only one person in all of history can ever have. This special title has ancient Hebrew origins, but the word Christ comes to us from the Greek language.
So why is Jesus called Christ?
Christ is the anointed Son of God. He is a member of the Holy Trinity- fully God. He is as a virgin-born man -fully human, as prophesied in the Old testament. (See Genesis 3:15 and Micah 5:2)
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
How Did Jesus Get the Name Christ?
The Hebrew Bible foretold in numerous places that there would be a special man called Messiah- (or Mashiach in Hebrew) who would one day save Israel from her oppressors and even from sin.
The name Christ came to be associated with Jesus (the anointed one) because he -as the Son of man– was clearly the long-awaited Messiah.
Jesus’ followers believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, who would return to restore peace and justice to Israel. He fulfilled many prophecies of the Old Testament including his death and resurrection, his wise teachings and miracles.
The title of Christ comes from Greek (Christos), which translates Hebrew (Messiah). It is a title for God in the Hebrew Scriptures that can mean anointed one or anointed one of God.
It may also refer to someone who has been chosen by God as an anointed one.
Jesus was called by many names in the Bible but the name “Christ” was used the most to the point that it became inseparable from Jesus. (See my post on all the different names of God in the Bible. These names tell us so much about who God is!)
Today people find calling Jesus without Christ incomplete, which makes perfect sense since he completely changed world history.
Even the whole calendar was divided into BC and AD based on his birth!
And so it is.
Jesus himself accepted the title of Christ and encouraged his disciples to use it.
In Matthew 16:13-17, He asked them “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They responded with the different names the Jews have ascribed to Jesus.
He asked them again, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The name did not originate from Peter, he merely said what people have been saying about Christ, but Jesus made him understand at that moment that he was inspired by God to call Him by this title.
At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus proclaimed Himself as the resurrection and the life to which Martha replied “Yeah Lord I believe that you are the Christ.” John 11:27.
This statement of great faith in the true identity of the Messiah made Lazarus’ return to life very dramatic.
Jesus saw her faith and acted to turn the sorrow of the family to joy and to prove to the people who were present that indeed He is the anointed one sent into the world to destroy the works of the devil.
When a man who was dead for four days came back to life, they knew that Jesus was not an ordinary man.
But that miracle was triggered by the statement of faith made by Martha.
It is our faith that moves God into action. This is the reason why Jesus could not do anything among the people He grew up with.
They knew Him to be Jesus Christ by name, but they never saw Him as the Messiah.
They questioned where He got His power and knowledge from, because they only knew him as the son of a carpenter.
And how could the son of a carpenter from Nazareth possibly be the Messiah? I mean, can anything good come from Nazareth?
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ.” Romans 12:5.
All those who believe in Christ are one body with Him. They possess the same spirit that Jesus has.
That spirit that makes Him raise the dead, perform miracles, heal the sick, and deliver the oppressed.
The Bible went further to say that anyone who does not have this spirit does not belong to Him.
Jesus is the last Adam who was made a quickening spirit different from the first Adam who was of the earth.
He came to do the will of God. He came as a man who would obey God and succeed where the first Adam disobeyed and failed.
What Does it Mean When Jesus is Called the Christ?
God wants us to know one thing about Jesus – he was anointed to carry out the work of salvation of man.
The book of Acts 10:38 states this clearly.
It was the anointing that made the difference between Jesus and every other person who claims to be a savior.
The anointing simply means God’s presence upon a man or a thing. God usually brings His anointing upon anything or anyone He would use.
This would make them become carriers of God’s power. It enables them to do extraordinary things which are beyond human abilities.
God gives the anointing based upon what He ordains for the carrier to do.
The more difficult the assignment, the greater the anointing.
The anointing on Jesus is the greatest of all because the Bible tells us that God gave him the anointing without measure. John 3:34.
This is the reason why He qualifies to be called the anointed one.
It is the same reason why He was able to do what other anointed men before Him could not do. He was the first man who lived on earth that Satan could not tempt to sin.
He overcame all the temptations, persecutions, and trials that came His way. He eventually succeeded in delivering man from the grip of sin, and the bondage of the devil.
The implication is that no evil power or what they represent can stand before Jesus. The same reason why many years after Jesus’ ascension, His name is still healing the sick, delivering the oppressed, and bringing salvation to people across the globe.
Jesus himself said when he entered into the synagogue on a Sabbath and said;
Jesus knew His anointing. He knew His mission.
He told the people after reading the scriptures, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
He was not anointed to become a king of an earthly kingdom. When some people came to make Him king He turned down their offer.
He was always faithful to His calling. That is why everybody must know Him as Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only Messiah who was anointed by God to deliver us from our fallen nature. And he is the only way to God.
Calling Jesus “Christ” supports our understanding that he is Truly God and Truly Man. This makes our faith stronger and helps us build a better relationship with Him.
Christ stands for Messiah, meaning the Savior of the world.
There had been people who called themselves saviors before Jesus was born. God wants us to know and serve the one He sent to us.
When you are calling the name, you are agreeing with God that Jesus is your Savior.
(Here’s where you can read my post: “Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven Bible Verses”)
When Did Jesus Get Called Christ?
The books of Matthew and Mark in the Bible introduce the title Christ as the name of the Messiah.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” -Mark 1:1
“Jesus, who is called Christ.” -Matthew 1:16
Bible scholars have confirmed that the name Christ is a title and not a specific name of Jesus. It is a title that goes along with his assignment as Savior of the world.
We see this in the way we use people’s profession to call their names, for example, Doctor Smith, President Reagan, Barrister George, etc.
We get further confirmation of this in the message of angel Gabriel to Mary, mother of Jesus.
The angel told Mary that she will conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to a child who shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.
Jesus didn’t use the title of Christ until he began his 3-1/2 –year ministry. But the wise men from the East knew he was the Messiah shortly after his birth -and so did Herod and the chief priests –see Matthew 2. His preaching, miracles and great wisdom were sufficient evidence of his office, and he claimed to be the Christ many times. (See my post “Jesus’ Many Blatant Claims to be God”) The title of Christ is very distinctive. But it is so much more. He is the only one worthy to open the scroll we learn about in the book of Revelation. “And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ 5 And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’” Revelation 5: 2 and 5:5, ESV
Jesus also fulfilled dozens of prophecies foretold by the prophets of old and they concluded like Nicodemus in John 3:2 that “No one can do these things except the Lord be with him.”
(See the post “Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven Bible Verses” for more scriptural evidence that Jesus Christ really is the only way to heaven)
Then, they began calling him the name Christ which means the anointed one.
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
For many years the Jewish people had been looking for the Messiah or a great deliverer who will come to liberate them from the Roman government that had dominated them at that time.
They were looking for a warrior like King David, or a great leader like Moses who led their forefathers through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
Many of them did not see Jesus as someone who could play the role of a deliverer because he never portrayed himself as a warrior or as someone who has come to fight or use force to achieve a purpose.
Only the few who understood the scriptures and could discern that Jesus was fulfilling them knew that he is the promised Messiah.
They gave him that title to make the world know that Jesus was not just a teacher or a prophet as some people have claimed, but that he is the Messiah that God had promised.
He has not only come to deliver the Jews but to save all humanity from the power and dominion of sin.
The title of Christ is very important.
It can determine what you will get from Him.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name:”
When you believe in the name of Jesus Christ you have the opportunity to become a child of God.
To become a child of God is not possible except you first understand the true meaning of His name.
With all the evidence that shows in history, through the Bible, archeological discoveries, and through post-bible miraculous feats, many people still find it difficult to agree that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
They are still waiting for their own preconceived “Messiah.”
Unfortunately, such people will be disappointed because Jesus was called the last Adam, meaning that no other Adam would come to rescue the human race.
Moreover, when Jesus was about to die on the cross, He said, “It is finished.”
Meaning that the whole work of salvation of man has been completed, hence no one can change or reverse it.
The fact that Jesus was able to return to heaven, sit at the right-hand side of the throne of God, and have His exalted name being proclaimed all over the world today, with signs and wonders following, proves that the Father in Heaven confirmed everything He did.