Over the past few weeks, we have been studying Hebrews 9 and its contrast of the old covenant sacrificial system to the work of Christ. One thing we have noted is that it is Christ’s shed blood that qualified Him to receive the title of new covenant Mediator (v. 15).
“Mediator” is but one of the titles indicating Jesus’ superiority over all things. In order to gain an even better appreciation for Christ’s superiority, we will spend the next two weeks examining the titles of Jesus with the help of the series The Names of Jesus, by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Throughout the Bible we see the importance given to the names of people. Oftentimes, biblical characters were given new names by God after going through some type of crisis situation (for example, Gen. 32:28). These names often indicated the disposition of the person or pointed to the role that they would fulfill in the plan of God.
Titles are another source of information about people. This holds true even in our society today. People spend years and thousands of dollars in order to get a title that will give them status, reflect a level of knowledge, and/or open up job opportunities. Respected titles like “doctor” tell us things about a person’s skill level and role in society.
The same holds true in the Bible. God gives men and women titles in order to describe their role in His plan. This is especially true of Jesus. His titles reflect His majesty and the nature of His work.
The most frequently used title for Jesus by the New Testament authors is “Christ.” This title becomes a virtual substitute for His name in passages where He is called “Jesus Christ” or simply “Christ.”
The title “Christ” comes from the Greek word christos which means “anointed one” or “one anointed by God.” This title is actually used to describe several people in the Old Testament because many are anointed by God to perform certain functions including prophets, priests, and kings. Even the pagan king Cyrus is given the title, since he was anointed to return the exiles of Israel to their land (Isa. 45:1).
In this general sense, anyone anointed by God is a “christ.” Nevertheless, throughout the Old Testament, the people of God looked forward to the day when the ultimate Christ would come and fulfill all of the covenant promises. In calling Jesus “the Christ,” the New Testament authors tell us that Jesus is this Promised One.
The word christ corresponds to the Hebrew word messiah, which also means “anointed one.” Although these are comon words in Scripture, they are most fully expresed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).