Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. David Fagrey, Pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD
31. Why is He called Christ, that is, Anointed?
Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our Chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father; and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.
Messiah is the Hebrew word, and Christ is the Greek word, both meaning anointed. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil to symbolize that they were ordained and gifted by God to fulfill the duties of their office. They were types (examples) of what God intends every believer to become through Christ, the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King (Num. 11:29; Rev. 1:6). Isaiah foretold that Messiah would be anointed with the Holy Spirit (11:1; 61:1). At His baptism, Jesus the Son of God was anointed by the Father with the Holy Spirit to fulfill His threefold office (Acts 10:38). As our Chief Prophet, He has fully revealed the truth to us, especially the truth about our redemption in Him (Matt. 16:16-17; John 1:18; 15:15; 17:8). As our only High Priest, “by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26), He has redeemed us by His blood (Heb. 9:11-15). And with His Father in heaven, “He always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25), praying that our faith would not fail (Luke 22:32; John 17:9-15). As our eternal King, at God’s right hand, He governs us by His Word and Spirit, preserving us in the faith so we persevere in showing ourselves thankful for our salvation (Heb. 12:2; 1 Peter 1:5).
32. But why are you called a Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ and thus a partaker of His anointing, in order that I [as a prophet] also may confess His name, [as a priest] may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him, and [as a king] with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.
Every believer is a member of Christ, united as one body to the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 2:6; 5:30), “united to Him by the same Holy Spirit dwelling in Him and in us” (Ursinus; cf. John 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, we are called Christians, “anointed ones,” for we all share in the anointing of Christ’s Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27), enabled by the same Spirit to imitate and follow Christ as prophets, priests, and kings: to know, love, and live truth (Jer. 15:16). “As prophets, we are to confess the name of Christ and declare His truth to others [Matt. 10:32; Eph. 4:15]. As priests, we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ and dedicate all we are and have to the service of God [Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10]. This includes our talents and our money. As kings, we are to exercise dominion by the Word of God over ourselves, our homes, our churches, our society [Gen. 1:28]. We are to fight the good fight against sin and the devil and reign with Christ both now and forever [2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 2:26; 5:9-10]. When we begin to grasp the real meaning of being a Christian, life becomes a wonderful, new challenge” (Jones, Study Helps, 74).