THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION
Larry Ray Hafley
"Send all questions to the writer of this column."
From Virginia: "Recently in a gospel meeting, the preacher taught that Jesus was not the Christ until after the crucifixion. This was based on the prophecy that Christ would be raised. It was also based on Acts 2:36. I reasoned that Jesus was already the Christ before the crucifixion (1 Jn. 4:1-4; Matt. 16:16-20). Would you please comment on this?"
Jesus was the Christ, the anointed one. He accepted this title before His death. (1) Peter said, "Thou art the Christ ...and Jesus answered ...Blessed art thou Simon" (Matt. 16:17, 18). (2) The Samaritan woman whom Jesus encountered at Jacob's well said, "I know that Messiah cometh which is called Christ ....Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he" (Jn. 4:25, 26). (3) "Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am" (Mk. 14:61, 62). Thus, thrice did the Lord accept the title of Christ before His crucifixion.
Psalm 2; Isaiah 2; Acts 2
As Psalm 2:2 shows, Jesus was Jehovah's Anointed. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed." The "anointed" simply means the Christ. Opposition to the Lord's anointed began at His birth (Matt 2). This was in fulfillment of the prophetic Psalm (Acts 4:25-27). At sundry times and in divers manners, "the kings of the earth . . . and the rulers" took "counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed," the Messiah, the Christ (Lk. 4:28, 29; Jn. 8:59; 10:31). Finally, they called and clamored for His crucifixion. When they secured His death, they thought they were rid of Him, "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psa. 2:6). The "king" of Psalm 2:6 is the "anointed." So, God declares, despite their designs, I have set my king upon the throne.
The "mountain of the Lord," the Lord's kingdom, was established and exalted (Isa. 2:2), and its king was enthroned upon Jehovah's "holy hill (kingdom) of Zion" (Psa. 2:6). The "mountain" of Isaiah 2 is the "holy hill" of Psalm 2. This placing of the king in power was done after Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection and ascension (Lk. 24:25, 26, 46-49). Paul describes the setting of the king in His kingdom. He says it was effected or accomplished by the "mighty power" of God "which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:20, 21). When was it? It was "when he raised him from the dead." What was done? Christ was positioned at God's own right hand. Where? He was set "in the heavenly places," this is, "upon the holy hill" as the king of the mountain or kingdom. It was simply the exaltation and coronation of Christ. Because Jesus "became obedient unto death," "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name (a power, authority, or dominion)" (Phil. 2:9). Peter says the very same thing (Acts 2:29-36).
When the mountain of the Lord was established, God set His king upon that mountain. In other words, when the kingdom was established, God installed and enthroned "his anointed" as the king (Cf. Isa. 2:2; Psa. 2:6, 7). Jesus was the Christ, but He was not given His universal dominion until after His resurrection, ascension, and inauguration (Psa. 2:6, 7; Lk. 24:46, 47; Acts 2:36-38; 13:32-34). It is parallel to David. David was anointed king of Israel before the death of Saul (1 Sam. 16). David, however, exercised no authority as king until after the death of Saul. He recognized Saul as "the Lord's anointed" even after he had been anointed as king (2 Sam. 1:14). So, Jesus was the Lord's anointed, but He did not bear the rule until He was placed upon the "holy hill of Zion."
Truth Magazine XXI: 45, p. 706