During premarital counseling, which is a requirement before I officiate weddings, I dedicate one session to going through the wedding ceremony. An important part of the ceremony is when the couple is presented to the guests before they walk down the aisle.
In one of the weddings I conducted, we left the discussion about this presentation to our final session together. I asked the couple to finish ths statement, “By the power vested in me by the state of North Carolina and the United Methodist Church, it is a privilege and joy to present to you, __________________________.”
To my surprise, they both filled in the blank differently. He wanted her to take his last name, but she did not. This disagreement quickly turned into a heated conversation. It became clear that this issue brought up deeper concerns that had not been addressed in previous sessions.
Last names hold significant importance as they contribute to our identity. It’s worth noting that Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The word “Christ” originates from the Greek word Christós/Khristós (Χριστός), which was originally a title meaning “the anointed one.”
In the Greek Septuagint, the earliest surviving Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the Hebrew word Mašíaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ) or mashiaẖ, mashiach, messias, or messiah was translated as Christós. This Hebrew word also meant “anointed one” and came from the verb mashah or mashach (משח) meaning “to anoint.” Therefore, both the words Christ and Messiah have the same roots, referring to someone who is “anointed.”
This theological explanation emphasizes that Jesus had the title of “Christ,” signifying that he was anointed. It was not his last name. To be anointed meant that someone was recognized as holy, sacred, or set apart in a special way. This was a common practice historically, and many individuals were known as the “Anointed” or Messiah/Christ before Jesus of Nazareth.
Ultimately, they were the people in whom God’s “Spirit” was seen as being present. When Jesus came along, he too was given the title of “Christ” in addition to high priests, prophets, and kings. And look at the impact he had! The way in which the spirit emanated from his being inspired his followers to create a new movement that went viral and has lasted over 2000 years. Many argue that it has changed the world.
This understanding of scriptures in the light of Jesus, the Christ, leads us to a place of deconstruction. It allows us to remove prejudice, exclusivity, and misunderstandings, opening up a whole new world of interpretation.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.” – John 1:1-5.