Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Names of Jesus - Messiah

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Then the angel told them, “Stop being afraid! Listen! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. Today your Savior, the Lord Messiah, was born in the City of David. Luke 2:9-11

In days of old, when a person was chosen for leadership, oil was poured over their head and they were anointed. Messiah, or Christ in Greek, means "anointed one. Jesus is God's Anointed One. It was understood in the Old Testament that God's anointed ones were holy. The high priests and kings were anointed when they were chosen for their jobs. 

Jesus was anointed three times: early in his ministry an unknown woman (labeled a sinner by those around Jesus) anointed his feet in Simon the Pharisee's house (Luke 7); a few days before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Mary, sister of Martha, anointed his feet (John 12); and two days before the Passover, an unknown woman anointed his head, and Jesus said it was for his burial (Matthew 26 and Mark 14). (I find it interesting that Jesus was anointed only by women!) 

Jesus wasn’t just any anointed person, he was THE Anointed One, set apart by God, both king and priest - a role that was only to be given to Messiah, the savior of the world. Unfortunately, Jesus did not look anything like the Messiah the Jews were hoping for. They were so busy looking for their idea of perfection and redemption, that they completely missed GOD’S idea of perfection and redemption.

In this season of looking forward to the arrival of Jesus, let us set aside our ideas of perfection and redemption. God’s ways are far above our own. He often works in ways that we could not have imagined, and most certainly in ways we would not have chosen. But God, in his infinite wisdom, has laid out a way for us. By sending his Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, to redeem us from the bondage of sin and death, he has given us perfection that we could never have dreamed up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Names of Jesus - Faithful and True

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven standing open and there was a white horse! Its rider is named Faithful and True. He administers justice and wages war righteously. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many royal crowns. He has a name written that nobody knows except himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word Of God.

We know from John 1 that the Word of God is none other than Jesus. His name in this passage in Revelation is Faithful and True. Isn’t that a great name? Jesus tells us that we are his friends if we do what he commands (to love); and who doesn’t want a friend who is faithful and true? 

Someone who is faithful will never leave you. They will always be by your side when you need them most...even when you don’t want them. A faithful friend is one who tells you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. A faithful friend is one who you can trust implicitly with every dirty little aspect of your life, and they will still love you and keep your confidence.

We can trust Jesus, because he is Faithful and True. Have you trusted him? Or do you find it hard to trust him?

Monday, December 7, 2020

Names of Jesus - Immanuel

Do you ever feel that God is far from you?

God wants to be with his people. He created us to have a relationship with him. In the beginning, he walked with humans and conversed with them daily. Sin messed that up and put a huge divide between divinity and humanity. 

God promised that a virgin would give birth to a son who would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. In order to be with us, the Creator of the universe became a created human. Can you even fathom the depths of love that has to involve? Would you set aside your own loving and accepting family to go live with people who don’t like you, and want to kill you?

As we start the second week of Advent, we light the Bethlehem candle, symbolizing love. God loved the world so much that he sent his only son to be born in Bethlehem. Laying aside his majesty, Jesus chose to be with us, to walk among us and love us.

God is never far from us. We can feel far from him, but that is usually because we are distancing ourselves. I have felt far from God in the last few years, since my mom became mortally ill with pancreatic cancer. I know in my mind that God hasn’t been far from me, but I am just now getting to that realization in my heart as well.  

Do you feel that God is with you? Do you feel his love and presence in your life?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Names of Jesus - Man of Sorrows

He was despised and rejected by others, and a man of sorrows, intimately familiar with suffering; and like one from whom people hide their faces; and we despised him and did not value him. Surely he has borne our sufferings and carried our sorrows; yet we considered him stricken, and struck down by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53: 3-4

Have you ever been rejected by someone you thought was a friend? Have you ever felt betrayed by someone who should have held your confidence? I know I have. The pit in my stomach after a betrayal physically hurt me; I wasn’t able to breathe, the pain was so acute. Realizing someone I considered a good friend thought of me as little more than a casual acquaintance hurt deeply.

As much as I have been hurt by people I considered friends, Jesus had much deeper pain. He agonized over the pain of betrayal. He cried and begged his very own father not to turn away from him and reject him. I cannot imagine the hurt. 

Jesus was despised by humanity, including me, including you. Oh, that is an uncomfortable thought, isn’t it? But we did not (and maybe still don’t) value him fully. Can we even comprehend what he did for us by dying on the cross? Can we ever fully appreciate the depths he went to just so that we can live for him forever, should we choose to?

What blows me away the most: Jesus did all of that EVEN FOR THOSE WHO WILL ALWAYS REJECT HIM, and they don’t even realize it. I think this knowledge contributed to his sorrow in Gethsemane. 

Jesus is the Man of Sorrows - he felt more deeply than we can imagine, because he loves us more fully than we can comprehend. We have the hope of heaven only because of his sorrow and sacrifice.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Names of Jesus - His Given Name

She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he is the one who will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

The most obvious of all names is his given name, Jesus, which means Jehovah is salvation. It was a popular name, because it is the Greek version of Joshua. Joshua was the courageous leader of the Israelites after Moses, who led them into the Promised Land. 

I have this hope within me: that one day I will reach the Promised Land because Jehovah is my salvation. If I did not have that hope of life after death, I would be hopeless, like so much of the world.

As we look forward to the coming of Jesus, both the celebration of his birth and his return, my prayer is that we are secure in our hope, that Jesus has delivered us from the bondage of our sins.