messiah; anointed one

a person who brings deliverance or new leadership
—The faculty welcomed the new dean, hoping he would be the messiah who could save their department from budget cuts.

The special king from David’s family, whom the Old Testament prophets had said would save Israel, was called, in Hebrew, “Messiah,” and in Greek, “Christ.” Both titles mean “anointed one.” Originally, anoint referred to spreading oil or grease on a sick or wounded person as a type of medicine. There are several other uses for anointing in the Bible as well, including pouring perfumed oil on the head of someone to set him apart as a priest or king.

Jesus claimed to be “the anointed one.” Once, a woman from the region of Samaria said to him,

“I know that Messiah [Messias] is coming” (the one called Christ); “whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.” (John 4:25,26)

In the same way that people “take God’s name in vain,” they also use Christ and Jesus as exclamations—such as to express anger, surprise, or excitement. Substitutions include criminy (for Christ), for crying out loud (for for Christ’s sake), and geez/jeez, gee, geeminy, and sheesh (for Jesus).

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