Tuesday, 06 December 2016 12:58

His Name Is Christ

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On these Sundays just before Christmas Day, 2016 we are thinking of the glory of the Saviour born in Bethlehem long ago looking especially at four of His main names and titles.  Last time we studied His personal name, Jesus, which means Saviour.  Today we want to think about His title, Christ, which means literally, Messiah, and the anointed One. Many texts could be chosen for this message, and many verses will be referred to, but our main text will be 1 Timothy 2:5. Here the apostle Paul declares, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”  

Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. How this by itself should draw our attention to Him and make us attentive to Him.  That He is the Christ makes Him the true and superb Saviour of sinners He truly is and always will be.  To explain this let me first of all show you from the Scriptures how this was and is a matter of great importance whether Jesus is the Christ or not.  Let me begin with John 1:41 where we are told about Andrew coming to Peter to tell him about Jesus.  Andrew says there: “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.”  The Old Testament form of the title, Christ, is Messiah.  God promised a Saviour, the Messiah, even the day Adam and Eve fell into sin. And now Jesus being called the Messiah, the Christ, proclaims by itself that at last the Promised Saviour has come!  In Matthew 16:16 in answer to the question of Jesus to His disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter responds with the words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The text in Matthew 16 goes on further showing clearly that Jesus so approved of this confession from Peter about Him stating even that this gospel truth was something made known to Peter by the Holy Spirit of God.  This is a basic central gospel truth to everything about Jesus that He is the Christ! On this ‘rock bottom’ truth Jesus says, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  In this regard how true what one person wrote: That Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the long-promised Messiah, is the key to the entire gospel

This comes out further when you consider the question of Caiaphas, the high priest, with Jesus’ trial as mentioned in Matthew 26:63.  Caiaphas said to Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” And then Jesus acknowledged, yes, He was and is the Christ!  Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders would not believe it then, but this is the gospel truth so significant. Jesus is the Christ!  That this is so all important about Jesus and makes all the difference in our view of Him is clear too from the witness of the apostles with Pentecost and since then.  Their focus in their witnessing of Jesus is that Jesus was and is the Christ!  Hear Peter say in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  And this is what pricked peoples’ hearts, even 3000 people, that first Pentecost. They had crucified not just Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus Who is the Christ!   In Acts 5:42 we read further about the disciples that “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ [or Jesus as the Christ]!” Likewise in Acts 17:3 we are told of Paul laboring in Thessalonica to make clear “that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”

Very interestingly it is not till after Jesus’ resurrection that the title, Christ, becomes more known and used.  We read even more than once during Jesus’ earthly ministry that He warned His disciples not to tell anyone that He was “Jesus the Christ” [Matthew 16:20 and Mark 8:30]. Jesus did not want His title, Christ, to be known too much because people had such a wrong idea of what that title, “Christ” or “Messiah”, meant.  They thought if Christ comes, He will set up an earthly kingdom, and the people promoting that would interfere with Jesus Christ’s real mission to seek and to save sinners. So not till the salvation work was accomplished did this title, Christ, gain full recognition and call for all proclamation!  Jesus wouldn’t hold high His official title and name, Christ, till all was accomplished, fully verifying that title! 

This by itself reflected such tender care on Jesus’ part towards sinners and such humiliation on His part towards us. For the sinner’s sake, Jesus kept His title, Christ, low key till the Saviour knew it could be proclaimed in a way that people would no longer misunderstand it and misapply it.  Here let me just mention some facts to back this point.  In the four gospels, the title “Christ” occurs 48 times while the name “Jesus” is given 553 times.  In the letters of the apostle Paul, however, the name “Jesus” is mentioned only 16 times, whereas the title “Christ” occurs 209 times.  This all brings out that title, Christ, is something so important in relation to Jesus. It proclaims everything about Jesus as being so genuine, so God-approved, so dependable, so rich and very true.

The gospel isn’t only that Jesus came as the Mediator between God and sinful mankind, but He came as the Mediator with both precious and official names, the names Christ Jesus, Jesus Christ. In chapter 1:15 too of 1 Timothy we have that glorious gospel declaration and invitation: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!”  

Does the title, Christ, help draw you to Jesus and cause you to pay all attention to Him as the one and only Saviour of sinners?  This official title for the Saviour is a message that tells us Jesus is the God-promised Saviour, the God-sent Saviour, the God-approved Saviour, the God- anointed Saviour, and the God-qualified Saviour!  Literally the name Christ means the anointed one. The Hebrew word, Messiah, means anointed one as the Greek verb ‘chrio’ means to anoint, so the word Messiah in Greek is Christ, meaning the Anointed One. In Matthew 24:5 Jesus warns in the last days, “…many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  The gospel message of the Bible is that only Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that one Mediator between God and men, sent by God Triune and equipped by Him to be the Saviour of sinners, the man Christ Jesus.  This title, Christ, should and may so assure you and me that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen again, was and is no self-appointed, self-made leader and Saviour. No, but He was a Man sent out by His Father, come from heaven above to do His work in this world. Jesus came conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary’s womb and later was also anointed by the Holy Spirit just after His baptism by John the Baptist. This all serves to demonstrate, Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. The Saviour’s title, Christ, links Jesus with God Himself, and that title gives Jesus the authority and the power to establish His kingdom.  As one put it, This official name, Christ, covers everything our Lord did under His personal name, Jesus.   

How this title, Christ, should so encourage all of us wholly and only to trust Jesus as Saviour of sinners.  Maybe you have never noticed this before. But notice it today then from God’s holy word. Jesus is the Christ and His official title as Christ Jesus makes everything about Him so reliable, and so rich, and so inviting to all. Jesus as the Saviour of sinners is the Christ! The Saviour is Christ Jesus, declaring He is uniquely and infinitely qualified to serve as Saviour of sinners, even for a sinner like you and like me! Will you hear this good news and be attentive to Jesus from today on, remembering He is the Christ?  This title at the same time brings out how serious a matter it is to turn from Jesus and go your own way in sin and unbelief.  No one will get away with continually turning their backs on Jesus the Christ! 

To learn more the infinite significance and value of Jesus’ additional official name or title as the Christ let us move from the importance of this name as obviously shown in Scripture to think more on the meaning of this title, Christ.  What is its rich meaning and value? Do you know? Jesus being the Christ proclaims to us He is so great and grand a Saviour of sinners, indeed. No sinner is without hope going to the Saviour, and all sinners will find plenteous redemption trusting in Him. Yes, for don’t forget now, Jesus is the Christ! He is Christ Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. 

To learn His worth from this title we need to think about Jesus Christ as The Anointed One.  The whole Bible helps explain Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One. In the Old Testament, being anointed meant being set apart and appointed and equipped for a specific task.  It also tells us about God having different people anointed with special oil for different offices.  The high priest, Aaron, was anointed into his office, and so was Elisha the prophet, and David the king, just to give you an example.  And now with Jesus the Saviour, He becomes anointed into the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. And He is anointed not just with oil, but especially with the Holy Spirit Himself.  The Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized, as we can read in Matthew 3 and the Holy Spirit remained with Jesus as He began His public ministry.  Jesus was not just anointed by the Holy Spirit, but with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus and remained with Him, equipping Jesus and enabling Him for His role that God gave Him as the Christ.  Jesus did His work as the Great Office-bearer “in the power of the Spirit” as we read in Luke 4:14, as the anointed One to the full.

And now to see more His worth as the Christ, just think of Jesus anointed to be our chief Prophet, our only high Priest, and our eternal King.  All the offices of the Old Testament were in preparation for Jesus’ coming, explaining and proclaiming all the more Jesus’ worth to us as the Christ.  Only Jesus Christ has been anointed to all three offices of prophet, priest, and king. Jesus Christ fulfilled and fulfills all these offices in a perfect most wonderful and blessed way. The prophets of old could only ever say, “Thus says the Lord”, but Christ Jesus comes to us as God come in the flesh saying “Verily, verily [Truly, truly], I say unto you!” and He came as the Heidelberg Catechism says, as the one “who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”

Likewise the high priests of old came always with animal sacrifices that could never satisfy fully for a single sin, and they offered prayers themselves that were stained with so much sin. But Jesus as our great high Priest comes as the Christ with nothing less than the perfect sacrifice of His own body in atonement for sin. With the result that by His precious blood there is now full remission of sin for His people, even for as many as repent and believe on Him. Furthermore, with Jesus the high Priest, we have a Saviour as Hebrews 7:25 says it, who “…is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”, and seeing His intercession is always so absolutely perfect and God-pleasing!

Along the same line too, Jesus as anointed King, what a king He is!  So unlike the temporary and often weak and wayward kings and rulers of the Old Testament, even the best of them! Jesus is the Ruler over all, and always most just and righteous and all-powerful and merciful in all His ways.  See Jesus as the Christ anointed to be His people’s  eternal king Who, again as the Catechism puts it in such a short powerful statement, governs us by His Word, and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us (in the enjoyment) of that salvation He has purchased for us.

The worth of Jesus Christ anointed to be our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King, is so inestimable too when you think about it that with our fall into sin from Adam, and our resulting total depravity by nature, how we need no one less than this Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah, exactly as anointed in His three offices to be our Saviour and Lord. Have you not learned too, as all God’s true people do, that left to ourselves as sinners we surely have lost all true knowledge of God and the way of everlasting wisdom. But now with Jesus as chief Prophet fully revealing the gospel to us, there is hope for true knowledge of God again and real wisdom in life too.  Likewise, left to ourselves as fallen sinners, we can never be reconciled to God. No, on our own we only always increase our debt because of our sins and sinfulness.  But with Jesus Christ as great High Priest and His once for all sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary, His precious blood cleanses us from all sin when looking to Him!  “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [I John 1:9]!  Yes, through Christ Jesus, the great High Priest Saviour of sinners!  Because of our fall into sin too, God’s true people discover and confess, of ourselves never can we rule our lives rightly. Our enemies, especially our own sinful heart, and this wicked world, and the sly devil, will surely swallow us up in this life, and the next, left to ourselves. But this is the gospel. As the Christ, Jesus is also anointed as eternal King! As Jesus told His disciples too in Matthew 28:18 “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” This means He surely can and will save, and guard, and keep, and guide His people for now and forever! 

The worth of Jesus as the Christ anointed by the Holy Spirit into His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King tells us everything needed for the complete salvation of sinners like you and me, and for the enjoyment of that salvation already here and now and later forevermore in glory. That is all found with Jesus the Saviour. For remember, He is the Christ! The Saviour of sinners is Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, proclaiming loud and clear to us there is no lack in Him and with Him, nowhere, not in any way nor for anyone who comes to Him and relies on Him and submits to Him.  No, says Paul, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified [proclaimed] in due time.”

The worth of Jesus as the Christ comes out also when you think of how all three offices come perfectly together in the Person and work of Jesus as Saviour of sinners.  Jesus is the one Mediator between God and men and He as the Christ is Mediator in a threefold, perfect, indivisible way, with all three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King embracing the whole of His life and all of His work.  You might say of Him as one commentator beautifully put it: As Prophet, Christ proclaims His kingly message with all the compassion of His priestly heart.  As Priest, suffering on the cross Christ testifies in a prophetic way, and with kingly authority He opens the door of Paradise to repentant sinners who come to Him.  And as King, at the time of His royal ascension into glory, Christ as prophet gives His disciples their marching orders to tell the good news to all, and as Priest, Christ lifted His loving arms in endless blessing over them even as He departed physically from them.  You see Jesus being the Christ is such precious gospel truth putting this altogether, and bringing out so much more His endless unspeakable worth as Saviour of sinners! Do you understand this with me now too, by God’s grace and Spirit, dear friends?

Jesus is the Christ, that is, our chief Prophet and our only High Priest and the eternal King for His people, and yes, His is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory now and forever!  False religions may acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth a little bit, but they discount Him as the Christ, putting other man-made prophets above Jesus, and other priests required besides Jesus, and other rulers instead of Jesus. If you are truly saved and a genuine Christian, you acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and you surrender to Him as your chief Prophet, only High Priest, and eternal King.  Do you so acknowledge Christ Jesus? If you don’t, you are not a Christian no matter how much you persuade yourself otherwise. Mormons are not Christians and neither are those belonging to the Jehovah Witness cult, or those belonging to the Muslim faith, or those who follow Roman Catholicism in its erroneous teaching and abominable worship practices.  

When you know and trust Jesus as the Christ, you learn and grow in realizing in Him is your all and all. Christ Jesus is the Saviour of inestimable worth! His personal name, Jesus, and His official title, Christ, tell us so and the combination of both names underline and underscore it beyond all dispute. Do you acknowledge Jesus’ worth as the Christ?  What can you possibly need that you can’t and won’t find in and with Him?  Are you looking for truth, for real understanding, for cleansing, for forgiveness, for peace, for guidance, for protection, for love, for hope, for deliverance from sin, Satan, and death, and escape from judgment? Are you looking for salvation rich and free, sure and complete, for security for body and soul, in life and death and forevermore?  Are you looking for heaven on earth and heaven eternal hereafter? You find it all with Jesus the Christ!  He is the Mediator, Christ Jesus, and this term, Mediator, presupposes controversy and trouble, and problems, and sin. But the man, Christ Jesus, can and has fully taken care of all the controversies and troubles that our fall into sin has brought us! The gospel tidings are that with Christ Jesus, repenting of sin and believing on Him, you and I can be and will be more than conquerors, living in grace and truth as God’s redeemed children here and now already, and then in the life to come forevermore perfectly so, in a way so glorious that words cannot express.

Hearing all this, I ask you: Does the title, Christ, with the name, Jesus, make you see and rejoice in Jesus Christ and His salvation for sinners like us? What a Mediator God has provided us!  How this title, Christ, which has become part of Jesus’ personal name even, should draw us to the Saviour for a first time, and time and time again! How it should motivate us when trusting and following Him to lift high this Name above every Name, the Name of Jesus Christ the Saviour!  God’s people in the Bible received the name Christian, Christ followers, according to Acts 11:26. Are you also a Christ follower, and Christ promoter in our day, yes, a Christian in word and deed, ever looking to Jesus Christ and abiding in Him and drawing from Him?

Surely when the Holy Spirit accompanies the preaching of Christ, this is the fruit. Then you are drawn to Him and believe on Him and you need Him and love Him so as your only Saviour and Lord, and you glory in Him above all! Yes, then you say with one of old, something like this:

We bless the Prophet of the Lord, That comes with truth and grace;

Jesus, thy Spirit, and thy word, Shall lead us in thy ways.

 

We reverence our High Priest above, Who offered up his blood,

And lives to carry on his love, by pleading with our God.

 

We honor our exalted King; How sweet are his commands!

He guards our souls from hell and sin, By his almighty hands.

 

Hosanna to his blessed name, Who saves by glorious ways;

The anointed Saviour has a claim, To our immortal praise. 

There is no true rejoicing in Jesus’ first coming and His birth in Bethlehem if you or I don’t agree or confess with this song of praise about Jesus being the Christ.  It is knowing and trusting and obeying Jesus as the Christ in this life, by God’s grace and Spirit, that also prepares us for Jesus’ second coming, who knows how soon now?  Just the Saviour’s title, Christ, along with His personal name, Jesus, declares what a blessing to know and follow Him in spirit and truth and so to live and die!

I want to mention yet how some of you live daily in a work or school context where you often hear God’s names taken in vain, also with the misuse of the names, Jesus and Christ, used as swear and curse words rather than words of praise and adoration.  It is not easy to bear with that and to address this always. But let me encourage you to bring the matter again and again to the Lord Jesus Christ. He can bless your witness of not so blaspheming God’s names, and He can bless your request that others from this evil refrain, and your positive testimony of the meaning of Jesus’ personal name being Saviour, and of His official title, Christ, being the Anointed One. Let us realize that this misuse of Jesus’ personal and official names in cursing reflects by itself something of the special power and worth of these holy names above all others!

Blessed be Jesus the Christ! The way to victory now and forever is ever to live in awe of Him. The Christian life is about being always attentive to Him as the anointed Saviour, and knowing His worthiness as the Saviour anointed into the threefold office of chief Prophet, only High priest, and eternal King, and time and again embracing Him in true faith and repentance as Christ Jesus, the one Mediator between God and men. Jesus is the Christ, which proclaims about the Christian gospel, truly, what a gospel to know and to tell!  Will it be reflected in your life these weeks before Christmas and as the years go by, that you believe Jesus, the Saviour of sinners, is the Christ?   Amen.

  Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor                  

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