Freedom’s Last Name
By Heath Jarrett
With a captive audience in his hometown synagogue, Jesus read these words from the scroll of Isaiah to his neighbors:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, see Is 61:1-2).
After reading these words, he sat down and said something totally shocking, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus was claiming to be the anointed one Isaiah foretold, the one empowered by the Spirit to liberate and heal. That Scripture found its fulfillment in Jesus, as his mission would go on to show. Jesus, through the ministry of the Spirit, brings freedom from physical and spiritual oppression. He is the one who liberates captives. Simply put, Jesus was telling the people that he was the long expected Messiah.
The word “anointed” is significant in this context. Both the word “Messiah” and “Christ” mean “anointed.” Messiah is a translation of the Hebrew term and Christ translates the Greek term (see John 1:41; 4:25). It is important to know that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name but rather a designation that he is the anointed one.
In Israel, three officials were anointed: prophets (1 Kings 19:16), priests (Ex 28:41), and kings (1 Sam 16:1-2). In Jesus, all these anointed offices find their fulfillment. Jesus is the Prophet (Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22; Heb 1:1-2), the King of kings (Rev 19:16) and the Great High Priest (Heb 9:11-12) whose work supersedes all those who came before him.
Each of those offices anticipated the coming of the Messiah who would fulfill the roles perfectly. Aaron had the privilege of being the first High Priest, yet made the golden calf. Moses was a great prophet, but struck the rock. David was a great king but committed adultery. Jesus operated on a different level: perfection.
When Jesus told his hometown he was the Spirit-anointed liberator, he was saying that he was their Messiah. When we say Jesus Christ, we mean Jesus is the definitive anointed one.