In a survey that was done a few years ago, it was discovered that many people imagined that the word ‘Christ’ was the surname of Jesus – they thought his first name was Jesus and his surname was Christ. But Christ is not his surname. Rather it is the title of his work. We often see a sign which says Smith, Joiners or Smith, Builders. Similarly, when we see the words Jesus Christ, we should realise that the name ‘Jesus’ says who he is and the term ‘Christ’ indicates what he has done, is doing and will yet do.
Where does the term ‘Christ’ come from? It comes from the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word translated Messiah. In order to know what Christ means, we have to discover what was predicted of the Messiah by the Old Testament writers. These predictions have been summarised by the roles of prophet, priest and king. We have lost aspects of the meanings of those roles because we no longer see them functioning today as they did in Israel in the Old Testament. Perhaps we will get a better idea if we replace them with teacher, helper and ruler.
Those roles are performed by the Messiah in our relationship with God. We were ignorant of God and needed one to teach us about him; we were detached from God and needed one to bring us back to him; we were in danger from other spiritual powers and needed one to protect us and to govern us on behalf of God. What happened when Jesus engages in those roles?
The person who has new life will listen to Jesus as the teacher who can describe God in great detail. These teachings are now recorded in the Bible and there we discover that God is both full of love and completely just. We discover that he has a plan which has both a big story (the redemption of the human race) and individual experiences such as answered prayer and daily guidance. Those with new life love to be instructed by Jesus the teacher.
The person who has new life depends upon Jesus for help. He depends upon him both in a big way and in innumerable small ways. The big way about which he depends on Jesus are connected to his work on the cross. In addition, he will look to Jesus for sympathy and help for as long as he is needed, which is every day. Such a person confesses, ‘I gladly depend on Jesus Christ.’
Again, the person who has new life submits to Jesus as King. He recognises both the power and authority of Jesus as the sovereign. His power guarantees the eternal protection of his followers. Recognition of his kingship also demands that his followers become his servants, devoted to his cause. The individual who looks to Jesus as king gladly says, ‘I delight to volunteer in his service.’