Feb 282014
 

IAMI am enjoying this little series on the different names of Jesus. Each name helps us a little more to see another facet of His character and over the weeks we have been building quite a picture.

We have already seen Jesus claim to be God, which has caused much angst to many people throughout the centuries. And many people throughout history have tried to prove that Jesus isn’t God, without success. Whether Jesus is God is a crucial question and one I plan to look at again today.

A hotly disputed passage where Jesus claims to be God is in John 8:58 where He is arguing with the Scribes and Pharisees about who God is and His own relationship with Abraham:

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58).

He did not say “Before Abraham was, I was” meaning he had lived for a very long time, rather He was using the same phrase as in Exodus 3:13-14 where God is speaking to Moses at the burning bush: 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

The Scribes and Pharisees were in no doubt what Jesus was claiming when He used this loaded phrase, which is why they picked up stones to throw at Him for blasphemy.

As you may know the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but the Greek version of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint (sometimes translated LXX), which was around during Jesus’ time translates I AM as Egō eimi. This is the phrase Jesus used that so upset the Scribes and Pharisees.

John’s gospel has various, what are known as ‘I AM’, sayings of Jesus and we will look at these over the next few weeks. We will discover how they further highlight different aspects of His character.

 February 28, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Feb 212014
 

immanuel_god_with_us “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23)

You never hear anyone calling Jesus by this name in the gospels, neither do you see Jesus calling Himself Immanuel. But this name is loaded with meaning and very relevant to Jesus. It’s very meaning of ‘God with us’ should fill us with awe as we try to comprehend the fact that our creator became one of His own creations, to pursue a relationship with us. We may find that we have become over familiar with this concept, having (mostly) been brought up with this idea since childhood, but when we pause to consider it, it is mind-blowing.

God

So how do we know He was God?

  • Firstly He was born of a virgin, the immaculate conception, without a biological earthly father. This event alone pointed to His divinity.
  • Jesus Himself claimed to be God:

I and the father are one” (John 10:30),

He who has seen me has seen the father” (John 14:9).

  • He used God’s authority by healing and casting out demons.
  • He forgave sins. (Mark 2:7).
  • The testimony of the Apostles: Thomas said “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28), and they all, almost without exception, died for what they believed in.
  • His own brother followed Him as God. If you have a brother you will understand this-if your own brother thinks you are God then that is pretty conclusive!

God became man because it was necessary for salvation. Romans 3:23 states that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ There was no man good enough to take our place so God took the initiative.

With

He didn’t pop down for the odd day visit, He came to stay. John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The meaning of the word ‘dwelt’ is that He ‘tabernacled’ with us, literally He pitched His tent up. He is with us because He experienced the full range of emotions and felt the limitations of an earthly body.

He is with us now in power through His Holy Spirit. He is even with us in death, having experienced death in its fullest by dying on the cross:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).

US

In the Old Testament only a few could approach God; people like Moses who was invited up the mountain (anyone else would die); like the High Priest who could only enter once a year after much religious preparation. Since Jesus came to us, we all now have the possibility of access to God. If we are trusting in Jesus we can enter into the very presence of God and indeed will be with Him forever.

We mainly celebrate this verse just at Christmas time, but to be honest I couldn’t wait to share it now. ‘God with us’ is something to be enjoyed and celebrated every day of the year.

 February 21, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Feb 142014
 

son of DavidLast week we looked at the name that Jesus probably called Himself most often (especially in the third person): ‘Son of Man’. This week we are going to look at a name that He was mostly called by others: ‘Son of David’. This name was loaded with meaning.

The title originates in 2 Samuel 7 where God, through the prophet Nathan, promises to David that He will establish an everlasting kingdom from David’s direct descendents. The prophecy is in most of the chapter but here are a few key points:

“……..I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. 14 I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to me a son…… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (verses 12-14 & 16).

These were very exciting promises for the Jewish people as each generation waited for the promise to be fulfilled. When Jesus arrived on the scene there was intense debate over whether He really was ‘the one’.

And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23).

Quite a number of people addressed Him as ‘the Son of David’, especially if they were seeking healing or deliverance.

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27).
And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” (Matthew 15:22).

The Pharisees too understood what was happening when other people called Jesus ‘the Son of David’ but because of their pride and stubbornness they refused to acknowledge Him as such: “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant”. (Matthew 21:15).

Jesus famously exposed their ignorance about what the title ‘Son of David’ meant in Mark 12:35-37:

And as Jesus taught in the temple, He said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?  David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

David himself calls Him Lord. So how is He his son?” And the great throng heard Him gladly.”

The question that Jesus asks in this passage takes me to my last point. The title ‘Son of David’ obviously did not refer to the next generation son of David, as we understand “son” to mean, but rather to a direct descendent of David. If you have ever wondered why the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are different, it is because the Matthew genealogy traces Jesus’ descendents through Joseph as His legal father, whereas the Luke passage traces His genealogy through His mother Mary as His blood descendent. This means Jesus qualified on both accounts!

Mary of course knew who her son was as she was specifically told by the angel Gabriel: “….And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1: 31-33).

 February 14, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Feb 072014
 

son of man

Welcome to my 100th blog!

If I asked you “what do you call yourself?” it wouldn’t necessarily be the name on your birth certificate. Most of us have names we like to be called. I quite like being called ‘Ade’ by my friends and family. (My old football manager didn’t quite get it right and used to call me ‘Ades’ which I didn’t appreciate due to the obvious connotations.)

If you read the gospels carefully you will see that Jesus refers to Himself on many occasions as ‘The Son of Man’, which may seem rather strange until we take a closer look.

I always thought that Jesus calling himself ‘Son of Man’ was a bit of an understatement. Surely He would be better to call Himself ‘Son of God’ to highlight His divinity. Thankfully, Jesus is not like me; He was completely humble and never needed to ‘big Himself up’.

By calling Himself ‘Son of Man’ He was firstly highlighting the fact that He was a man. He wasn’t God in disguise (although He was fully God) but fully a man, with all its limitations: He got tired, hungry, sorrowful and definitely felt pain. When He called himself that name He was in fact saying “I am just like one of you – I am human”.

There was another reason why Jesus called Himself ‘Son of Man’ and we find a clue in the book of Daniel. In a vision that Daniel saw he describes the following:

13 “I saw in the night visions,and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

Jesus would have known full well about this verse and the fact that it referred to Him, because He says this in Matthew 25:31-32:

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

The High priest at His trial also knew full well what he was referring to:-

63” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (Matthew 26:63-66)

The high priest had absolutely no doubt that Jesus was linking the fact that He called Himself ‘Son of Man’ with that name in the Daniel 7 passage, evidenced by his reaction: he tore his robes, calling Jesus a blasphemer.

So in one name Jesus is highlighting both His Humanity and His divinity; there is no contradiction between the two-He is fully both! What a wonderful truth! The son of God became the son of man that we might become sons of God!

 February 7, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »