By Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario June 2007
The NRSV (New Revised StandardVersion) got it right when it called the Son of God " Jesus the Messiah" (e.g. Matthew 1:1, 18: 16:16 ; Luke 2:11, 26; 9:20; John 1:41; 11:27; 20:31; Acts 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28). Unfortunately in other places, including the Epistles, the same Greek word Christos is transliterated as Christ, and that has become Jesus’ surname.
Many of our English surnames go back to the work of the ancestor of that line :
Archer Baker Barber Brewer Carpenter Falconer Farmer
Mason Miller Miner Sheppard Smith Taylor Thatcher Weaver
So giving Jesus the surname "Messiah" reminds us of his work. The difference is that his work as King of kings goes on for ever.
The surname Christ means nothing in English, and it is mainly used as a swear word. From the time of the King James Version the word Christ was used as a transliteration of the New Testament Greek word Christos. This was a translation of the Hebrew word Mashiakh which means an anointed King. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and his anointed" (Psalm 2:2).
Throughout the Psalms the Son of God was known as the King of kings and Lord of lords who was the ultimate ruler of our world. "O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth" (Psalm 8:1). ‘The LORD sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgement" (Psalms 9:7). "Dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:28; see 47:2, 6, 8).
In the long 400 years of prophetic silence from Malachi (the last of the Old Testament prophets) to John the Baptist, the Jewish people got the idea that the Messiah was no longer in control. They assumed that he would come back one day. By using Jesus’s proper surname we can help correct that error.
Obviously people are not going to be in a hurry to talking about "Jesus Messiah." But if we begin using Jesus’ correct surname a slow change will occur in the right direction.