His Name is Jesus, but His Title is Lord.

(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications and authors to assist in providing answers.)

People often refer to the Savior as Jesus Christ. It’s fine. It’s what we do in America. We like to make a first and last name for people, even though some people have four names. And then if you count nicknames, the list becomes much larger.

But Jesus Christ are actually two separate names combined to make it comfortable for the person that is accustomed to introducing a person through two names.

But as we discovered thus far, Jesus was given two names at birth. But what we did not discuss yesterday were the many names used to describe Jesus through the prophets and up through the time of His days walking amongst us.

In a book by the late R. C. Sproul called Who is Jesus, we discover there are nearly endless names applied to Jesus. So many that Sproul had to dedicate one chapter to the many names, while breaking them up into categories.

“A fascinating element of the Bible is the significance that is often attached to names and titles. The names and titles for God the Father are many, and they reveal something of his character. The same is true for Jesus”

R.C. Sproul, Who is Jesus; Ch. 3 The Names of Christ

He went on to share a small list of names for Christ by a speaker at a seminary convocation. “Lord,” “Son of God,” “Son of Man,” “Son of David.” “Immanuel.” “the Word.” Just to name a few. But with each name revealed something about the character of Christ and the gravity of his role in the world.

Sproul had listed Christ as the most frequently used name for Jesus, often referring to Him as Christ Jesus. But the second most used name for Christ Jesus (Christ, meaning Messiah or one who is anointed) is the title LORD.

Sproul described how this creed became a common title used by the the community of believers, confessing “Jesus is Lord”.

“This confession was at the center of the conflict that the early church experienced with the Roman authorities. Roman citizens were required to recite publicly Kaiser kurios, “Caesar is Lord” The early Christians were deeply committed to the mandate they had received from Christ and from the Apostles to be obedient to the civil magistrate; they were careful to pay their taxes and obey the laws of the state. But one thing they would not do is ascribe to Caesar the honor that went with the term lord.

R.C. Sproul, Who Is Jesus

There were several usages of the word lord back in those days. But the most esteemed usage of the word lord, and made it a capitalized usage, were the words Yahweh and Adonai. These words were applied to the Father, but also to the Son of Man (a title Jesus ascribed to Himself to demonstrate his authority and equality with the Father)

Why are these names significant? Each title describes in greater detail who Jesus was, what he was on Earth to accomplish, what he represented to humankind, and His plan for restoring us to become part of his kingdom- a kingdom that never ends. The path and the plan to eternal salvation leads to Him and Only through Him and the work he did while here on earth. But the title “Lord” refers to how he reigns in the highest now. It also refers to his sovereignty over his people.

That sovereignty, along with a summation of Jesus’ work that lead to his designation as Lord is encapsulated in this hymn by the Apostle Paul:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:5-11

Again, I’m awestruck by the humble circumstances that Jesus was placed, and later would continue to take the role of the servant. He was here to be the sacrifice for our sins in our place. He was here to do what we were incapable of doing. He did it so that we may have life eternal. He taught us along his journey on how we should live. And ultimately, as the Pharisees, scholars, and neigh-sayers of the day challenged his words and claims, He stated his authority over all and equivalence to God the Father.

The baby born on Christmas Day that became a king, and now reigns eternally as our Sovereign Lord. But he is a Lord that does not Lord over you, as you are given free will to decide what to make of Christ Jesus. His sovereignty will never change, however.

His work here was costly. But his grace in providing what we needed is limitless.

Today, Jesus calls us and gives us the choice who we will serve. Christ did the work. All we must do is confess our sin to him and honor Him as our Lord and Savior.

This Christmas, I hope you will consider the work that baby did as he grew to become a man. But being without sin, he was the only possible sacrifice to take our place, to take upon the sin of the world, that we may be made new and live eternally with him.

My hope at Christmas is that each of you would consider Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That you would pray to Him to forgive your sins and be Lord of you life. If you hear His word today, let him into you life and you will discover the gift he left us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

If you need someone to pray with, reach out to a local church leader, a believing friend, or message me. I would be happy to pray with you. But whatever you do, if our Lord Jesus touches your heart, turn to Him and follow. His kingdom is forever. And if you accept Him as Lord, it will change your heart, mind, and life in ways you could never imagine. Merry Christmas to all. May his Kingdom Reign forever and ever!

Chris Gaines, Stand and Kneel.

(Sources: Who Is Jesus, R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries, 2017)

The Many Names of A Baby That Would Be King

(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need Him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications and authors to assist in providing answers.)

As Joseph and Mary prepared for their child to be born, they had several concerns which are documented at the end of Matthew, chapter one…

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus, because he will save the people from their sins.”

-Matthew 1: 18-21

So much for new parents to deal with given the societal mores of the times. But what we discover is not only how the baby was named, but also the level of trust that Joseph and Mary placed in God, given that each had their reputations on the line. The passage continues…

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

-Matthew 1:22-25

Whoa! That’s a lot to digest. Joseph had some very difficult decisions to make. But he followed the command from God. And in doing so, everything worked out for both parents and child. But we also discover a new name, a different name for the baby Jesus – Immanuel, meaning “God with Us”.

What we have discovered so far is that Jesus’ birth was talked about centuries before, down to the last detail! That the baby was not conceived by man, but the Holy Spirit; which means he would be the first since the beginning of mankind to be born without sin (see Day 2 article). And that the parents were to give him the name Jesus because he “will save the people from their sins”. But he would also be called Immanuel, which is God with us.

When you think of the gravity of all that we know so far, there is much to process. But, what we do know is this baby was like no other. He was given the task of saving the people from their sins. But he qualified in that he was without sin. He was sent from heaven to join us and truly walk amongst us. Such an incredible act. A loving king that would be born to live among us so that he could save his own people. Such love. Such grace. Such humility. And, apparently many names, too. Not only “Jesus” and “Immanuel” (though those names said a lot about Him), their were many, many others applied to him before, during, and after His miracle birth.

Come back tomorrow to discover the many other names of Jesus, and why they all point to one thing: honor and service to the king.

Chris

What Was Different About Jesus

(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need Him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications’ authors to assist in providing answers.)

In Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict, he came up with an outline that provides a good starting point to answer these questions:

If God became man, then we would expect him to:

Have an unusual entrance into life.

Be without sin

Manifest the supernatural in the form of miracles.

Have an acute sense of difference from other men.

Speak the greatest words ever spoken.

Have a lasting and universal influence.

Satisfy the spiritual hunger in man.

Exercise power over death.

This “unusual entrance” was one that prophets spoke about centuries before his birth.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

The Book of Isaiah was written in eighth century BC. Isaiah was the first of a group of individuals known as the major prophets. Their purpose was to reveal God’s plan to His people. And in doing so, they provided a glimpse of the future. But not merely events, but critical junctures that range from catastrophe to miracle.

But the one attribute that sets the prophets apart from all others in biblical history is that their words were never false. Here is another prophecy from centuries before the birth of Jesus:

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” – Micah 5:2

So why was Jesus’ birth significant?

Certainly, we could list hundreds of reasons. And we will share many more. But for the purpose of revealing an unusual entrance into the world (as Josh McDowell put it), His birth was predicted many centuries before it took place! And not just the birth, but many of the happenings, location, events, and circumstances from that moment in time (as forecasted by the prophets) came true! How many people do you know that had their own birth predicted generations before it happened?

In answer to the second question as to why Immaculate Conception was important: because the person being born was to represent a replacement for us.

The Old Testament gave us the Law of Moses between God and His people. What the Mosaic Law showed us is that we are dead in our sins and require a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus came to be that sacrifice for us, that replacement. And the only way that he could be a true replacement was to be without sin; a Savior for all mankind.

“Do not think that I can to abolish the Law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17

Since the Bible tells us that everyone born has sin, without exception, Jesus had to enter not through man’s will, but through God’s. The Immaculate Conception is that unusual entrance that was required for God to enter the world as man. And it was the first of many miracles that Jesus performed.

Among the many miracles that he demonstrated were:

Healing a leper (Matthew 8:2-4)

Healing a paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8)

Restoring a blind man’s vision (Mark 8: 22-25)

Water converted to Wine (John 2:1-11)

Multiplying Food (Fed the 5,000; Matthew 14:15-21)

And, of course, raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)

But what are we to make of all these signs? Come back tomorrow where we discuss what we are to do with the baby that became king.

Chris

(Sources: Excerpts from Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972, 1979)

Why We Need Jesus This Christmas

(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications and authors to assist in providing answers.)

As last minute shopping reaches a fever pitch in local department stores, the crush of shoppers reaches one last feeding frenzy before the presents are revealed. So what’s missing?

To answer this I harken back to Black Friday 2018:

When Thanksgiving is over and all that remains is a refrigerator full of rapidly decaying leftovers, it is time to move on to the next sequential holiday phenomenon. This is known as Black Friday. Everyone begins the race from store to store searching for a bargain that may or not be available again before Christmas.

I am happy to report that my only role in this frantic trek is to serve as designated driver for the convenience of my loved ones to shop until they drop. So unlike the throngs of heavily-bundled, early morning shoppers, my pace was leisurely. There was plenty of time to park and people-watch while waiting for the family to arrive at the checkstand before moving on to the next deal.

One of my many observations was a Mom and her three kids walking past a display. The youngest daughter said, “Mom, what’s that thing over there?”

Mom replied, “Oh, that’s called a nativity.”

The daughter asked, “What’s a danivity (sic)?”

Mom snickered, “No. Na-tiv-I-ty! It’s a display of the baby Jesus…”

The conversation faded as they walked away. But that exchange stayed with me for the rest of the day. Many things came to mind about that conversation. The child was asking because she had never seen a nativity, though she was young. Did she know why the nativity was there? Did she know who Jesus is or why he would be on display as a baby in a retail store? What did all of this mean to the little girl, I wondered?

And though this was merely one little girl asking a valid question, a bigger question within that conversation looms large. The question is whether or not people even understand the significance of the life and work of Jesus, and the significance of how He entered this world. This is one of the questions we will explore:

Why was Jesus’ birth significant? And why was Immaculate Conception important? What difference does it make to me? He’s a cute baby laying all warm with parents, travelers and farm animals present. And it’s a cute story. But it’s just a story…isn’t it?

Find out why this story is just the beginning of the most important story you will ever know. That original Christmas, He was a newborn that arrived in humble circumstances. But he is not a baby anymore. Come back tomorrow and find out why this is significant.

Chris

(Tomorrow: Part II, What was Different About Jesus)