The following article appeared in our local paper today. Unfortunately, the paper changed the title and cut the last two paragraphs so I am not linking this to their digital edition.
Believe it or not, “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name. “Christ” means “anointed one.” Anointing in biblical times meant pouring oil on someone’s head. People were anointed for offices like prophet, priest, or king. When David was anointed king, “Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him…and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David” (1 Sam. 16:13). Anointing symbolized that the anointed one was empowered by God’s Spirit.
About 50 days after Jesus resurrected, the first Christians gathered to observe the Jewish festival, Pentecost. They were in rough shape. Jesus had been killed. He resurrected but didn’t stay, physically. He promised they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came. But Jesus didn’t say what to do in the meantime. So they kept their heads down. No one wanted to play whack-a-mole with the religious leaders or Roman government.
As the confused group prayed, a rushing sound filled the room. Fiery tongues appeared over everyone. They were filled with the Spirit, and magnified God in different languages/tongues (Acts 2:1-12). From then on, the church fearlessly told people about Jesus. Healings and other miracles happened. There was no more hiding.
What happened that day? It is tempting to say God did a bunch of wondrous things to establish His church. But tongues and miracles dazzle only because we are so unspiritual. What is healing or speaking in tongues to God, who spoke worlds into being? If God wasn’t just being flashy, what did happen on Pentecost so many years ago?
Fortunately, Peter explained: “God has resurrected this Jesus…. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear” (Acts 2:32). Old Testament prophets had visions of God on a throne. To be exalted to the right hand of God (as Jesus was) meant gaining the throne. Like His ancestor, David, Jesus was anointed—not with oil to symbolize the Spirit but with the Spirit Himself. That anointing carried power for His resurrection office—King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
Body of the Anointed
Scripture calls Christians the body of Christ (anointed One) (1 Cor. 12:12-13). This isn’t figurative language. Together, Jesus and Christians comprise a single spiritual being. My kids watch cartoons where robots combine to form one giant robot. Some robots become arms or legs, some form the trunk, etc. While crude, this illustrates the connection between Jesus and His people.
On Pentecost, God poured the Spirit on Jesus and anointed the head of a body gathered in Jerusalem. Psalm 133 describes the anointing of Israel’s first high priest, Aaron: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron’s beard onto his robes.” This helps us visualize what happened: the anointing ran down to the body from Jesus the head. What the people saw that day were signs of the power wielded by the eternal King’s head and body.
Love Is King
Miracles never cease, they say. The Spirit still heals and allows people to magnify God in many languages. But King Jesus displayed His power most when wearing a thorny crown and suffocating on a cross. Because of His love, He could give nothing less than everything. Giving ourselves for others shows we share Christ’s anointing more than anything.
Paul says if I speak heavenly languages and have miraculous powers but don’t have love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-2). Only Jesus could die for the sins of the world. But because I am anointed in Christ, I can tell people about His love. I can listen to someone who is hurting. I can forgive road rage. I can give money to someone who needs it. Above all, Pentecost (May 20) reminds me that love is King.