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Jesus Who is Called Christ

by Alan Allegra  
5/19/2016 / Church Life


Sometimes, inspiration comes easily. On a recent Sunday, our pastor preached on Luke 9:18-20, where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ of God. The pastor used Psalm 2 to illustrate Jesus as Messiah. That same day, a TV teacher spoke on Psalm 2 and the Messiah. Next day, I was reviewing a series of lessons at work called "Who Christ Is." I'm not much on signs from heaven, but I did get my article theme!

During that Sunday sermon, the pastor asked the congregation to call out names that most people use for Jesus. We heard the usual: Savior, Lord, King, Teacher, Good man, Revolutionary. Then I had an epiphany -- Two names were conspicuously absent: Christ and Head.

"Christ" is not Jesus' last name; it is his title. It is the Greek word for the Hebrew "Messiah" or "Anointed One."

The term Messiah or Anointed One refers to the Davidic king chosen by -- and set apart to -- God. This king will bring the final institution of Israel, a righteous rule, the elimination of God's enemies, and heaven's holiness to earth.

Anyone can be named "Jesus" (or the equivalent "Joshua"); it is a fairly common name. But "Christ" is a title reserved for one chosen person. Indeed, few people in and out of church have trouble talking about Jesus. However, outside of both genuine worshipers and careless cursers, few are comfortable using the term "Christ" -- it admits too much and is disquieting, and, hence, makes a popular pejorative.

The other sorely neglected descriptive name for Jesus is "Head" -- of the church and of man. "And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body" (Ephesians 1:22, cf. 5:23). "But I want you to understand that the head of everyman is Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Church members will sing endless droning songs exalting Jesus as King, but how many songs have you heard confessing Jesus as Head of the church that has so piously assembled? How many pastors (or pastorettes) acknowledge that Jesus -- not their own philosophy -- is the Lord of their church? "King" is nice; he is far away, benevolently ruling some vague sentimental kingdom. "Head" and "body" are a little too close and intimate, even involving discipline (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; Revelation 3:19).

Christ and Head are terms that should evoke comfort for all men. It is Christ the Messiah who will vindicate Israel, cleanse the world, and rule with the absolute justice, righteousness, and purity everyone is struggling to achieve. It is the Christ who will restore all things to Edenic perfection (Luke 4:18-19).

It is Christ the Head who nourishes and cherishes his body the church (Ephesians 5:29-30) and gives it direction (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:15). Most importantly for the true believer, Christ the Head forms his body out of all believers, with each person adding to its growth through service and love, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children . . . we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:13-16).

To be a Christian is to be eternally linked with Christ and his people, awaiting the world we all crave, and under his loving care and safety.

Christians need to embrace the fullness of him after whom we are named!

Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!

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