In an old Monty Python sketch, the Pope chastises a reckless Michelangelo for painting the last supper with twenty-eight disciples and three Christs.
Amid offensive content and perfect comic timing, Monty Python stumbled upon a little-known truth: There is more than one Christ in the Bible. There are far more than three.
Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:10-11, NRSV
“Christ” was not Jesus’ last name. He was not born to Mr. and Mrs. Christ. The honorific title, “Christ,” is from the Greek “Christos,” a translation of the Hebrew word, “Meshiach” (Messiah) which means “anointed.”
Hebrew kings were anointed with oil to designate them as elected by God to lead. We don’t refer to King David as “David Christ,” but we could. Even a gentile ruler, Cyrus, is named God’s anointed, by the Prophet Isaiah, this time without the fragrant oil.
Like Cyrus the Christ, Jesus the Christ was not anointed with oil. Instead, Jesus was anointed with water and with the Spirit at baptism. Many Christians today refer to baptism as a “christening” for that reason. The word “Christian” means “little Christ.”
Christians generally don’t go around calling ourselves Parker Christ, Vanessa Christ or Matt Christ, but we could. The very same Spirit that anointed David, Cyrus and Jesus also anointed us.
What if every morning, we remind ourselves, “I am the beloved of God, anointed to lead in love,” even if we don’t fully believe it at first? Would that make any difference?
With me, God is well pleased. In me, God is pleased to dwell.
About the Author
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.