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 »
Jan 312014

The wordThe bible describes Jesus as ‘The word of God’ in a number of places, probably most clearly in John 1:1-3 where it says:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

We know John is referring to Jesus because later he says: “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (verse 14).

The Greek definition for ‘word’ here is ‘logos’, a word which is not easily translated into English and is very rich in meaning. “Logos” is a philosophical term used in Jewish and Greek intellectual circles. To the Greeks, the ‘logos’ is what lies behind the universe and maintains its order; to the Jews it is more that God had a concept in His mind and spoke it into existence. So John is very clever here by appealing to both parties and using a word they both understand.

This verse is one of the key verses to understanding the trinity. He is not a god (small g) as translated (wrongly) by Jehovah’s witnesses, but the God (large G). He is one with God and as God the word, spoke creation into being:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

It is amazing to think that from merely speaking, the universe came into existence. This is the power of ‘the Word’.

So not only was He there at the very beginning, as God, speaking creation into being, he also speaks through His prophets and chosen messengers throughout the Old Testament, bit by bit revealing His plan for salvation. Then at one momentous point in history, the ‘Word’ became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Jesus did not just speak God’s words when He walked on this earth; He demonstrated the will, purpose and power of God. That is why ‘Logos’ means much more than ‘Word’, in the same way that Jesus did much more than just speak the right words.

Jesus is also the ‘word’ who inspired the bible, the one who whispered into the ear of Moses, David, Peter, Paul and the rest. His words that we read in the bible speak to our souls and still transform lives today. I always wanted a bible with all the words of Jesus in red, but I have since realised that every word in the bible is the word of Jesus. If you are going to colour in any words at all it should be all of them!

“Word” also means ‘truth’. We say “I give you my word” when we want someone to believe us. Jesus apparently used the phrase “I tell you the truth” 78 times in the gospels (I say apparently because I have not had the time to double check for myself! – but suffice to say it is mentioned many times). Unlike the imperfect human beings that we are, when God said “I’ll give you my word” He meant it. Jesus demonstrated this by accomplishing everything He had intended to do.

 January 31, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 242014

Prince of peaceWe continue looking at the wonderful names of Jesus as they have been revealed in the bible. Specifically, we have been looking at the titles of Jesus declared by Isaiah in chapter 9 v 6. We have seen Him as the ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ referring to his omniscience (all knowing); ‘Mighty God’ referring to His omnipotence (all powerful); ‘Everlasting Father’ referring to the fact that He is in all places at all times (omnipresence).

Today we are going to explore the fact that He is the ‘Prince of Peace’. He is not a prince in the context of being the son of a king; the Hebrew word used here is much broader. Think of  words such as; chief, governor, leader, overseer, ruler.

Mankind has always craved peace but it has always been elusive. Many people of our generation would sign up to the popular song ‘imagine’ by John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Wonderful sentiments and dreams to have, but mankind has tried to achieve peace throughout history and never managed it. The sins of pride, covetousness, jealousy etc all make living life in peace impossible. Simply hoping it will all be alright with just a bit more effort is not going to change a single thing.

Jesus is the only one who can bring true and lasting peace and He does this in three ways:

(1) Peace between man and God. This is the most important peace to have. It is what makes peace everywhere else possible. This is the reason that Jesus came; to restore the relationship between mankind and God. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

(2) Peace with ourselves. No amount of meditation can give us the peace that comes into our hearts when we are at peace with our creator. Having Jesus living in us is the only true and lasting peace, which brings an authentic ‘inner serenity’. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:15)

(3) Peace with others. This is the outworking of firstly being at peace with God and secondly being at peace with ourselves. We then have the capacity to bring God’s peace to other people. It is virtually impossible to create peace with others without the other two already in place. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

The peace we are longing for is the peace that Jesus will bring fully when He comes again. As the ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ He will bring a wise and perfect peace. As the ‘Mighty God’ He will have the power to ensure peace and as the ‘Everlasting Father’ His peace will last throughout eternity.

His final kingdom will be founded on peace at the culmination of all of history. He will bring all things together through His perfect rule and reign. I shall leave you with two passages (also in Isaiah) which show us in small detail what His future reign will look like:

 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

 January 24, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 172014

everlasting father For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

On first reading, this may not seem quite right. Are we mixing up the trinity? How can Jesus be the Father?

The bible does not specifically mention the name “trinity”, though we read throughout its pages the concept of three distinct persons in one: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each have their distinct roles within the trinity. The above verse has been used to try and suggest that they are not three distinct persons but only one (that God the Father is also the son etc), however this concept is clearly refuted in many other bible passages.

This passage is not saying that Jesus is God the Father, but that He takes on a fatherly role in eternity. It would be better to read Jesus’ role in this passage as the ‘author’ or ‘possessor’ of eternity. He is the eternal one who holds eternity in His possession.

As a member of the ‘Godhead’ Jesus is eternal. In Revelation 22:13 He declares: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

It talks about Jesus being with God in the beginning in John 1:1-3, and then in Colossians 1:17 it says: “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

And here comes the wonderful truth: He has shared His eternity with us. As the Father of eternity he leads all those who believe in Him into eternal life. He has put into the heart of man a sense of the infinite, a hunger for eternal life: “He has put eternity into man’s heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

There are numerous fantasy stories around, sparking our imagination about finding the secret to eternal life. We instinctively know (regardless of whether we believe in God or not) that death is our enemy. There is always a sense of loss at the death of a loved one, even in very old age. We were made for eternity, therefore the relative shortness of life is never a comfortable thought.

Jesus defeated death when He himself died on the cross and then rose to life three days later. We now have the opportunity to follow Him and live forever in the age to come.

In light of eternity, this life we are living now is but a blink of an eye or a fleeting breath. Our time on earth in this age is so short; shouldn’t we be doing all we can to prepare for the coming age? Shouldn’t our every focus be on preparing for that glorious future when we live forever with our eternal saviour?

Now that is something to think about!

 January 17, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 102014

MIGHTY-GOD We come now to the second title of Jesus we are going to look at, from Isaiah 6: “For to us a child is born,…and his name shall be called….Mighty God.”

I wonder what must have been going through the mind of Isaiah as he wrote these words, that a human child would be mighty God Himself? It is almost inconceivable, probably the reason so many people disbelieve it, yet this is how God has chosen to reveal himself.

For many people this has become a point too far. They say that Jesus couldn’t possibly be God himself. However, there are many biblical references not just to Jesus’ divinity but also to His equality with God the Father. Jesus told His disciples in John 14:7: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” Still a bit confused (and probably reeling at this statement), Phillip the disciple then asked Jesus in rather emphatic terms to show him the Father. Further highlighting His previous statement, Jesus replies “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” This on its own leaves no room for doubt and is also backed up by other scriptures.

Another disciple, John (who was with Phillip when he asked Jesus to clarify his divinity) had himself fully understood Jesus’ claim by the time he wrote his first epistle. In fact he couldn’t wait to declare it! John starts: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Word here is clearly referring to Jesus. This theme continues throughout John’s epistle right up to the end, where Thomas declares “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus accepts this adoration without rebuke.

The apostle Paul continues in Colossians 2:9, speaking about Jesus: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”.

There are many other passages pointing towards Jesus being the mighty God. He is mighty in that He created the heavens and the earth; He is mighty in that He controls all things by the word of His mouth; He is the ruler of all things; one day every knee will bow to the King of kings, yet this amazing mystery remains: He is mighty because He became a baby who would in a few short years die for the sins of the whole world. Somebody say Amen!!

 January 10, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 032014

counsellorLast week we looked at the passage from Isaiah 9 and the fact that many names have been attributed to Jesus. This week we are going to look in a bit more detail at the first name that Jesus was called in verse 6: ‘Wonderful Counsellor’.

In the original King James version of the bible this name was split into two separate names by a comma; “Wonderful”, “Counsellor”. However, more recent scholars regard the comma between the two words as an error. I am going to assume it is one name, ‘Wonderful Counsellor’.

Being a counsellor is a huge responsibility. Counsellors are those who advise, instruct and guide. They are people we put our faith and trust in to not disappoint us or betray our confidence. In ancient times they would advise kings, much like the prime minister’s cabinet or the president’s advisors in our modern day world. A counsellor plays a key role.

Jesus doesn’t need advisors. He is THE wonderful counsellor who advises all. Let’s look at a few essential qualities of a counsellor and see how Jesus fits this role perfectly:

A counsellor needs to be near and accessible, not aloof and distant. Jesus is close, always available, never too busy. It says in Deuteronomy 31:8: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

A counsellor needs to be trustworthy. When we speak to Jesus we can be open and honest. He will never betray our confidence. He promises to hear our cry for help.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)

A counsellor needs to be compassionate, someone who is tender and loving; concerned for us. Someone who will not treat us simply as another ‘client’ but rather as a good parent lovingly treats a child. Someone who really knows us, instinctively knowing what is best for us despite our complexities. Jesus understands exactly what we are like because He made us: “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He himself knew what was in man”. (John 2:24-25)

A counsellor needs to be capable. Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient). He is wisdom itself; He never makes a mistake.

Finally, a counsellor is someone who communicates with us. They listen and help us, asking the right questions and doing the right thing. God communicates through His word, through the wisdom of other Christians and through prayer, (which is a two way process, not simply us telling God what we need but also listening to what He has to say.)

May I just add that none of this is to say we shouldn’t consult Godly human counsellors when necessary; they demonstrate a degree of these gifts as they are made in the image of God. But we should always consult God first and look to Jesus, our truly wonderful counsellor.

 January 3, 2014  Posted by at 9:00 am Names of Jesus No Responses »
Dec 272013

whats in a name For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Have you ever considered the importance of names throughout history? Alexander the Great wouldn’t sound quite as good as “Alex the quite good”, or William the Conqueror as “Bill, the chap who sometimes does quite well”. Silly examples, but I’m sure you understand what I mean.

Parents can sometimes take a long time choosing names for their children. So many names have meanings behind them and we wouldn’t want to inadvertently label our children with an inappropriate moniker that would cause embarrassment for the rest of their lives.

In biblical times, a name would have significant meaning. It would often define a person’s character.

On a few occasions we see God change the names of people in the bible. For example, Abram was re-named “Abraham” which meant ‘father of a multitude’. Jacob, whose name meant ‘supplanter’ (quite apt), after wrestling with the angel, had his name changed to ‘Israel’, meaning ‘he who prevails with God’.

Jesus famously changed the name of His disciple Simon, to Peter (meaning ‘rock’).

However, of all the names that have ever been, the most important is Jesus, whose name is…”above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21b). And again in Philippians 2:9 it says “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

Our passage today is heavily associated with Christmas. There are 4 names for Jesus which we will look at over the next few weeks. We will then continue to look at the many other different names of Jesus, which all describe a different facet or characteristic of this wonderful man who has transformed history.

It is my prayer that over the following weeks we will discover new and wonderful things about Jesus. Come back each Friday to discover more.

Until next year, have a very happy and peaceful New Year.

 December 27, 2013  Posted by at 12:00 pm Name of Jesus No Responses »
Dec 202013

When has been the earliest reference to Christmas you have seen in the shops? For me, I think it has been as early as September!

With the usual Christmas frenzy in the media and in the shops at this time of year it can be so easy to get fed-up with the whole thing, especially as it can lead to a lot of stress and disharmony-the exact opposite of what it should be about. However, if you will forgive my play on words, we need to be careful not to throw the baby (Jesus) out with the bathwater.

There are a number of reasons given by Christians for not celebrating Christmas (apart from the rampant commercialism): Some say we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas because it is largely a pagan festival, with many pagan objects used as idols such as the Christmas tree, yule logs, mistletoe etc. Some would say that scripture doesn’t authorise it, even suggesting that some obscure passages forbid it.

In my opinion, to boycott Christmas altogether would alienate us further from society when, on the contrary, we should be building bridges to reach our society. We can choose to be negative and critical, or we can make a decision to be positive and use the season as a time to remember and communicate the birth of our saviour.

Let’s consider how we can sanctify the season and show by our lives what God has done for us by sending his son into the world to save mankind. We can represent our saviour in all kinds of ways during the Christmas season: not getting drunk or over-indulging ourselves with too much food; not grabbing presents or constantly thinking about what we can get, but instead being generous; we can contribute our time and our money to various excellent charities such as ‘Food-bank’ or ‘Surviving Christmas’; we can seek to be peace makers even when others (in many cases some of our closest family members) are looking for a fight.

Let’s determine to be a blessing to others this Christmas, in a small way reflecting our wonderful, generous God.

 December 20, 2013  Posted by at 11:39 am Christmas 2 Responses »
Dec 172013

jesus v santaThis is not a personal attack at Santa, honest! But just after I pressed ‘send’ on my last blog post, I discovered a link to a great podcast by John Piper on exactly the same subject as mine and of course he put it so much more eloquently than I could.

It’s only six minutes, so I have put a link to it here:

To briefly sum it up he said;

“It is mindboggling to me that any Christian would even contemplate such a trade, that we would divert attention away from the incarnation of the God of the universe into this world to save us and our children. … Not only is Santa Claus not true — and Jesus is very truth himself — but compared to Jesus, Santa is simply pitiful, and our kids should be helped to see this.”

· Santa offers only earthly things, nothing lasting…. Jesus offers eternal joy with the world thrown in (1 Corinthians 3:21–23).

· Santa offers goodies only on the condition of good works: “he knows when you have been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.” That is a pure works religion….. Jesus offers himself all the gifts freely, by grace, for faith.

· Santa is make-believe….. Jesus is more real than the roof on your house.

· Santa only shows up once a year….. Jesus promises, “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

· Santa cannot solve our worst problem…… Jesus did solve our worst problem, our sin and our alienation from God. Santa can put some icing on the cake of the good life, but he cannot take a shattered life and rebuild it with hope forever. And our kids need to know that about Christmas.

· Santa is not relevant in many cultures of the world……. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords over all the peoples of the world.

· Santa will be forgotten some day……. Jesus “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

There is no contest, Jesus wins ‘hands down’ Santa is simply irrelevant.

So my counsel is to give all your efforts to making your children as happy as they can possibly be with every kind of surprise that is rooted in the true meaning of Christmas. Let your decorations point to Jesus. Let your food point to Jesus. Let your games point to Jesus. Let your singing point to Jesus. Out-rejoice the world, out-give the world, out-decorate the world, and let it all point to Jesus.

If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for your Christmas, you don’t know him well.

 December 17, 2013  Posted by at 11:06 pm Christmas 1 Response »