As a faith family we are currently engaged in dialogue around some basic questions of faith. This week, the question "Who is Jesus?" was asked of Pastor Kyla. Here are some excerpts from her answer. For the full answer, please listen to her complete message here.
In the first chapter of Matthew we see three names presented by the gospel writer when referring to Jesus. Three names. One baby. Messiah. Jesus. Immanuel.
So what can we know about Jesus by learning his name?
When we think of the name Messiah, it is likely that the first thing that pops into our minds is Handel's Messiah. The Hallelujah Chorus. Pomp, Circumstance, Sing a longs at Christmas.
But when the Jewish community heard the name Messiah they would have an instant response to this name. Messiah is the long awaited one. Messiah is the One anointed by God to be the fulfillment of their long held expectations. Messiah is the One who will be the King Israel needed to bring the freedom and independence from their occupiers, captors, pillagers, enemies. Messiah will set everything right again.
Jesus is the One upon whom the anointing of God rests to put all things to right. This is Messiah. Jesus came to usher in justice, not just for some, but for all. He came to usher in a new era of His Kingdom, not a Kingdom of earthly standard, but an eternal Kingdom where God's law of love, holiness, and justice is known and adhered to. Jesus came to live up to His name as Messiah, and in doing so, he offers a grace to humanity that we so desperately long for.
Seems a bit ridiculous even to write it, but I love how the text in the first chapter of Matthew doesn't just say the name Jesus, rather it gives explanation for the name Jesus.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”(Matthew 1: 21).
Jesus is the one who saves people from sin.
If Jesus is Messiah, setting all things to right, then justice is absolutely necessary. Justice requires an accounting and payment of dues. Yet Jesus is not only Messiah, Jesus is the One who saves people from sin.
Romans 6:23 reads: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the one who satisfies all our debts. Through his life, his death, and his resurrection, Jesus is the one who not only ushered in the way for Justice, He has provided to each of us and all of us the means through which to receive his grace. Jesus is the one who lives up to his name to save people from sin. But more than this. Jesus lives up to his name so we can be given a new name. Through Jesus, we no longer are called the condemned. We are the forgiven. We are the redeemed. We are the living.
The single most defining claim of the Christian Faith is this – Jesus is God. Immanuel is the name given to Jesus to proclaim the reality of the Incarnation of God. God in flesh. In the world. With us. This is the central claim that all who believe in Jesus must not only give credence to, they should be stirred to the core of their being at this eternity-altering fact. God became a human.
The gospel of John says it this way: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have see his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
The belief that God, in Jesus, became human is based on this truth: God chose to become human. He chose to do what it takes to pursue us, to bring us to the more we were made for. God chose to step into time so that all could be set to right again, so that the relationship he made us for with him could be restored through him. God put a temporary limit on himself, so that He could live up to Him name – Immanuel; God with us.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the One who lives up to his name.
I pray you will hear as he speaks his word over you today. Jesus has lived up to his name, so he can give you a new name. You are restored. You are forgiven. You are the loved and pursued by God the Messiah, the One who saves, God with us.