Ques. Why is he called Christ, that is anointed?
Ans. 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 to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in (the enjoyment of) that salvation, he has purchased for us.
Lord’s Day 12, question 31.
And in Jesus Christ!
I believe with the church of all ages in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.
Jesus is my Christ. Jesus is His personal name, Christ is His title. Just as we speak of the prophet Elijah, Aaron the high priest, or king David, so we also speak of Jesus, the Christ. For Christ, even as the Hebrew term Messiah, means for us the Anointed, the Anointed of God. My Savior holds the highest position that anyone can possibly hold, both here on earth and in heaven. Our Catechism therefore quite correctly lays emphasis on the fact that no one but God, no one but the Son of God could hold such an exalted position by asking: Why is He, the Son of God, called Christ, the Anointed?
There were prophets, priests, and kings in the old dispensation who were anointed as types and shadows of the Anointed of God who was to come. Anointing with aromatic oils symbolized the fact that a man was ordained and chosen of God from eternity to an office of prophet, priest, or king. No one might intrude in that office, nor could he be placed in office by mere man. He could acquire this rare privilege only by a direct calling from Jehovah, and was therefore also qualified for his specific office by the Holy Spirit. Rarely was any one chosen and fitted for more than one office, yet essentially the offices were actually one, as they became manifest in our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We must trace this threefold office all the way back to Paradise. Adam was created in the image of God in true knowledge as God’s prophet, in righteousness to devote himself to God as God’s priest, and in holiness to serve God with the whole earthly creation as God’s king. Our first father stood by his very creation in a covenant relationship to God; God was His sovereign Friend and he was God’s friend-servant. He was called and privileged to stand in the midst of all the mighty works of God to devote himself in love to God, to behold the marvels of all God’s handiwork, and thus to glorify God with his whole life and being. He was qualified to rule over the animals, to care for the vegetation, and to surrender the whole of Paradise to the praise of the glory of the Creator, Who is blessed forever. What a glorious task and privilege for Adam, and for Eve as his helper! Yet, by their own willful disobedience, they abused and deprived themselves of these gifts to their own condemnation and misery. The friend-servant of God, mind you, struck up a friendship with the devil, against God, by transgressing God’s commandment. This was a breach of covenant which demanded the punishment of death. Yet God kept covenant. Adam did not seek God, but God sought Adam and Eve, implanted in them the new life from above, aroused them to an awareness of their horrible transgression, humbled them in sorrow and repentance, and promised to them the CHRIST, the eternally Anointed Friend-Servant of God, to be their and our great Prophet, exalted Highpriest, and sovereign King, our Savior and our Lord forever and ever!
Prophets spoke of Christ’s coming, priests brought their sacrifices as anticipatory atonement for the sins of the people, and kings ruled over the theocracy of Israel as foreshadowing the power and glory of Him Who would sit on David’s throne with a glory far exceeding that of Solomon. The believing saints longed to see His day, while inspired poets sang of His sufferings and the glory that would follow. In the fullness of time God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to deliver us from the bondage of the law into the glorious liberty of Christ as sons in God’s House. Zachariah and Elisabeth, Joseph and Mary, the shepherds and the wisemen, Simeon and Anna worshipped Him at His birth. At the outset of His ministry His disciples rejoiced in the fact that they had found the promised Messiah. When Nathanael met Jesus he confessed in amazement, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” The chosen twelve at first referred to Him as “Rabbi,” but gradually learned to address Him as “Lord,” whereupon they were ready to make the good confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” After Jesus’ resurrection Thomas cries out, “My Lord and my God!” Upon this confession Scripture lays its divine seal in I John 4:2-3, “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” And on the other hand, “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist.”
Christ our Prophet.
Christ is our Prophet and Teacher who fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption. A prophet must know, must be filled with and bubble over with the Word of God, saying, “Thus saith the Lord!” Who could know better than God Himself Who is infinite truth and knowledge? Who can know God better than the Son, the exact image of the Father? And who can reveal the infinite glories, the eternal thoughts and purposes of God better than the Son, Who is the Word, the very revelation of God Himself? O, the depths of the knowledge and wisdom that caused the Word to become flesh and to dwell among us, that we may see the glory of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth! Even as He was eternally ordained of God to be our great Prophet, He was also gifted with the Holy Spirit to speak, not in the foolishness of the scribes, but with the power and authority of God, always revealing the infinite riches of divine grace. Many gladly heard Him, for He opened unto them the Scriptures. His disciples clung to Him, saying, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Even now upon His ascension He still speaks from heaven through His Word and Spirit. His sheep hear His voice and they come to Him to follow Him. He is their Bread and Water of life, their Way as their Truth and Life, even their Resurrection and their eternal fellowship with the Father. For we shall see God face to face, in the face of Jesus Christ, to behold His glory and to enjoy His covenant fellowship forever.
Christ our High priest.
A high priest must be characterized by loving devotion to God and by mercy toward God’s people. Our High priest testified already through the Psalmist of old,
The off’ring on the altar burned
Gives no delight to Thee;
The hearing ear, the willing heart,
Thou givest unto Me.
Then, O my God, I come, I come,
Thy purpose to fulfill;
Thy law is written in my heart,
‘Tis joy to do Thy will.
(Ps. 40, Psalter No. 109).
At twelve years of age our Savior amazed the doctors of theology in the temple with His knowledge of the Scriptures, but also amazed His mother with His devotion to His God by saying, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” At Jesus’ baptism the voice from heaven declared Him fully qualified for the task which was laid upon Him by saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” We can appreciate the fact that our Catechism lays such a strong emphasis here on the redemptive death of Christ. Especially when we hear drummed into our ears from every side that God loves all men, even at the expense of His justice, we enjoy the glad tidings of the gospel coming to us from the fathers, speaking once more of our guilt and debt of sin that had to be borne away by our Savior. We who are slaves of sin are redeemed, set free, made sons in God’s house by the redeeming sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. This lies in the secret counsel and will of God, our fathers tell us, and is now made known to us by God’s dear Son, our Savior, so that we may enjoy the salvation He has purchased for us with a joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Our High priest is now in heaven, where He makes continual intercession for us with the Father. Every moment day and night Christ stands before the face of God as God’s delight, and as our righteousness. God sees us in Christ as clothed in the righteousness merited for us on the cross, without spot or wrinkle, as God’s beloved. Our Savior prays for us, and the Father gladly hears Him. In answer to His prayers God bestows on Christ every spiritual blessing, which He, in turn, pours out upon us according to our every need. Also our prayers ascend before the throne as a sweet smelling savor in the nostrils of God, because they are sanctified through our Mediator Who presents those prayers, in His Name, before the Father. Also Jesus pleads, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (John 17:14).
He is also our King.
A king must have power and authority to rule. According to the promise, He is the Seed of the woman who enters into the citadel of the prince of this world to crush his vile and wicked head. From the moment of His birth the Christ of God marches triumphantly toward His victory in glory. Even as David fought the battles of the Lord, the greater David destroys all the powers of darkness to subdue them all unto Himself forever. To the amazement of His disciples, winds and waves obey Him, devils tremble and flee before Him, sickness and death lose their power before Him. At the moment when His enemies think that they have triumphed over Him by putting Him to death He declares His victory over them and His accomplished work of salvation by crying out: “It is finished!” God sealed His victory by sending His persecutors on their way beating their breasts and putting all their vain boasts to shame, even filling them with terror by raising Christ from the dead and exalting Him to the highest heavens. Every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that He is Lord of lords and King of kings forever and ever!
Our Christ rules over heaven, hell, the nations and the peoples, and even over every creature that stirs to our salvation. He is for us, so that nothing can be against us. He assures us: “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me!” More than conquerors are we in Jesus Christ, our eternal Prophet, Priest, and King in the heavens, to Whom be the glory forever and ever.