Was Jesus’ last name Christ? Were His parents Joseph and Mary Christ?
The answer to both of these questions is “no”.
In the original Greek text of the Gospels, “Jesus Christ” or “Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς” literally means “Jesus the Anointed One”, or “Joshua the Divinely Authorized by the Pouring or Rubbing of Olive Oil” making reference to the original promise of a coming “מָשִׁיחַ” or “Messiah” or “Anointed One”, which in Greek would be translated as “Χριστὸς” or “Christ” and His given name “Jesus”, which is the Greek transliteration of His likely actual Hebrew name (given His parents’ ethnicity) “יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ” or “Yehoshua”, literally meaning “Yahweh is Salvation” but commonly translated as “Joshua”, the same name given to Moses’ successor at the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the titular character of the sixth book of the Bible.
So, Jesus’ name is not actually “Jesus Christ”, it’s just Jesus or Joshua. “Christ” is a title identifying Him as a priest and king chosen by God and pointing to Him as the fulfillment of all of the Bible prophecies regarding the promise of a coming savior.
“This is how Jesus [Ἰησοῦς] the Messiah [Χριστὸς] was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus [Ἰησοῦς], for he will save his people from their sins.’ All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’’ When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus [Ἰησοῦς].” – Matthew 1
“OK Steve, that’s interesting and all, but so what?”
Perhaps the most famous and certainly one of my favorite prophecies promising the birth of Jesus the Christ is found in the prophet Isaiah,
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” – Isaiah 9
God’s passionate commitment, God’s promise is that He will provide a light for those in darkness, freedom from slavery and oppression, and a just, fair, wonderful, strong, and eternal kingdom that will establish peace and joy for all of eternity. God is promising salvation in as broad and encompassing terms as possible. This is the heart of the promise of Christmas.
And yet, between the more famous “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light” and the even more famous “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” lies one of the lesser known, often overlooked, but truly powerful promises of Christmas.
“The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.” – Isaiah 9
Fuel for the fire. Think back over your life to all of the times of conflict, defeat, struggle, abuse, addiction, dysfunction, and despair. As a collection, those memories are your boots of the warrior and your uniform bloodstained by war. They bear the remembrance and the evidence of war — carried with you from the battlefield as a reminder of the loss, the violence, the anger, the fear, the doubt, and the life and death struggle that sullied them. The blood, the sweat, the tears, the dirt, the grime, the stains, and the battle-worn, battle-weary wear and tear of conflicts past.
The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war carry with them a mix of emotions, there is the relief of survival, the pride of accomplishment, the pain of loss, the grief of experience, the sadness of doubt, the emptiness of failure, the guilt of missed opportunity, the shame of conscience disturbed, the wistful brush of fear coloring much of it, and the shadows of what might have been in stark contrast with the conflicted memory of what was.
War is hell. You made it through hell. And you are still here to tell the tale. Your boots. Your uniform. Your blood. Your memory. Your life.
God’s promise is that all of it: every memory, experience, and interaction with the enemy can be fuel for the fire.
Conversion is more than just a statement of faith. Conversion is more than accepting the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to save the world. Conversion is more than walking from darkness into light or from defeat into victory or from addiction into freedom. Conversion is all of that, for sure, but even more so — conversion is a fundamental alteration in the fabric of your memory, your consciousness, and your experience of life that changes the very foundation of who you are, what you need, and what you are looking for. And conversion is the fire that is fueled by the bloodstained evidence from the battlefields of your life.
Jesus is not just some man who taught a great philosophy or created a great movement of people. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Divinely-Authorized Anointed, the Chosen One, God with Us. And what that means is that the enemy’s reign is over because there is a new king in town, and His rule cannot be reversed or undone, His rule will be forever because every action the enemy takes to oppose Him becomes fuel for the fire.
What the enemy meant to harm you, God can convert to empower you, to feed you, to restore you, to heal you, to embolden you, to guide you, to give you something to offer and show you where you can make a difference. Fuel for the fire.
No matter what has happened to you, it is all fuel for the fire of God’s love, God’s purpose, God’s calling, God’s mission, and God’s salvation. Notice Isaiah didn’t say some of the boots or some of the bloodstained uniforms, he said ALL of them will be burned because they are ALL fuel for the fire.
As you embrace conversion, every memory becomes an opportunity, every experience becomes an opening, every defeat becomes the foundation for your ultimate victory because it all becomes fuel for the fire. It all becomes motivation and passionate commitment to receive conversion and new life in Jesus the Christ.
No more are you the broken, the lost, the wounded, and the alone. No more are you the addicted, the enslaved, or the oppressed. You are standing in the presence of God — blessed with His goodness, showered in His favor, clothed in His grace, restored by His power, informed by His word, engaged by His will, and focused by His love to accomplish His vision and experience His promises as you embrace the victory He has in store for you.
Pray with me,
“Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior.”
This is the promise of Christmas. This is the mission of the Christ. This is the purpose of Jesus the Messiah (or Joshua the Divinely Authorized) — to actually save you from your sins and the sins of others through the life changing experience of conversion, which opens the door to eternal life by the specific action of God’s life, God’s Holy Spirit, moving within you because in this new life, every challenge, every obstacle, and every conflict is simply fuel for the fire, lifting you up and driving you forward into victory, joy, and peace forever.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” – Isaiah 9