1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3, 14
For family moving night this week, we watched Take Me Out to the Ball Game starring Gene Kelly, who was one of the most well-known actors in the mid-20th century. Although many of us probably haven’t even heard of them.
However, if I were to ask if you know who LeBron James is, you likely would say, “Yes.”
The younger among us know who Selena Gomez is and who Justin Bieber is, right?
But how well do we really know people we say we know? What about the person next door? We may know a name, but what do we really know?
And what about Jesus?
If I were ask someone on the street who Jesus is, most people would have an answer. It may be an incomplete answer or an altogether wrong answer, but they would have some idea about who Jesus is. They probably have at least heard of him, even if they don’t really know much about him. And having heard of him, they probably assume they know more about him than they really do.
What if I were to ask you? “Who is Jesus?”
What does the name Jesus mean? Is Jesus God or man, or God and man? Was he primarily a wise Jewish rabbi? A gifted prophet? A King? A priest? Or maybe all of the above? What specifically did Jesus come to do? And what does someone who walked the earth 2,000 years ago have to do with me, anyway?
By the end of this post, I think you will be able to answer all of these questions. But more than just get the answers right, I hope that you will feel yourself desiring to really know Jesus… not just know about him. I want us to savor him as Savior and glory in him as King. I want us to find him beautiful and worthy of complete devotion.
THE NAME OF JESUS
We read in Matthew 1:21, that an angel told Joseph that Mary was going to have a son and instructed Joseph, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The name Jesus in English is transliterated from the original Greek form of his name, Ἰησοῦς – Iēsous.
His name in Greek, Iesous, is translated from the Hebrew version of Jesus’ name, which is Yeshua, or in English, Joshua, a name which means “the LORD (Yahweh) saves.”
And so the angel instructed Josepeh to name the child, Jesus. Iesous. Yeshua. Joshua. The LORD saves.
Even the name of Jesus reveals the mission of Jesus—why he was born.
Around the time of Jesus’ incarnation, Israel was under Roman occupation and control. Many Jews were looking for the long-awaited Messiah to deliver them from the hands of their political oppressors and to restore the Kingdom of Israel.
Of course, there are political and social implications of the gospel. But the mission of Jesus wasn’t primarily to set us free from an external political problem, but from an internal moral and spiritual problem — the oppression of our sin nature, which was the subject of last week’s message.
Last week I quoted from 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice (or propitiation) for our sins.”
The very name of Jesus reveals his mission to rescue us from our sins by taking our place in judgement to satisfy the just demands of the law so that we can be fully forgiven and unreservedly reconciled with the Father.
That is all bound up in the name, Jesus.
But let’s dig deeper and discover more about…
THE IDENITY OF JESUS
John 1:1-3, 14,
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As the living Word, Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He was not created, but actually is described as the Creator. Amazingly, when we go back to the first line of Genesis and we read, “In the beginning God created,” we are reading about Jesus.
In John 1, John the Apostle is being crystal clear that Jesus is God—God in the flesh. He is fully God. He is truly God. He is eternally God.
We need to emphasize this because not everyone who calls themselves “Christian” believes this about Jesus.
There are strands of liberal theology that permeate many mainline denominations which deny the deity of Jesus.
Additionally, Unitarians deny the deity of Jesus, as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mormons will tell you that they ascribe deity to Jesus, but as a created deity–not an eternal deity.
By the way, on my blog yesterday in preparation for this message, I posted reasons why groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are mistaken concerning the deity of Jesus. It is too long of a side road for us to travel now. So, I posted it on my blog and hope you find it helpful.
Anyway, John makes it clear that Jesus is fully and truly God.
But Jesus also is fully and truly man.
In Galatians 4:4, we read, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
God the Son took on human flesh. In theology, we call this the hypostatic union, which is the term used to describe “the mysterious joining of the divine nature and the human nature in the one person of Jesus.”
Can we be honest? The concept of two natures existing simultaneously in one person is beyond the full grasp of our mental and intellectual capacities. But just because we can’t fully understand something doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.
We can observe Jesus’ two natures functioning simultaneously. While performing miracles and retaining his deity, Jesus grew weary, thirsty, and slept. We see Jesus know the thoughts of others. We also witness under assault in temptation, having consciously to decide to trust and obey the Father’s will.
The testimony of Scripture is that Jesus is fully God and fully man.
But why is this so important?
For the answer to this key question, we need to understand…
THE WORK OF JESUS
Jesus, the God-man, was born for a purpose. His life was a single-minded mission. He was given a work to do. Something to accomplish so that at the end of his earthly life, he could say from a cross in John 19:30, with full confidence and joy, “Tetellestai!”, which is translated becomes, “It is finished!”
In order to gain a full-orbed view of Jesus’ finished work, theologians describe his mission as fulfilling three mediatorial offices—three roles that were seen in shadow form in the Old Testament, but fulfilled in Jesus. They are called mediatorial because the person who fills these offices or roles mediates between God and his people. He stands between them so to speak.
(1) The first mediatorial office, or role, Jesus fulfills is that of a King. Just as the nation of Israel had a human king who ruled as a representative of the LORD over the people, so Jesus as King and Head of the church, rules, guides, and protects his people in the New Israel.
In John 18:37, at his trial before Pontius Pilate on the night of his crucifixion, Jesus is asked about his kingship, “Therefore Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born…’”
Remember, Jesus was born in the line of King David to be the ultimate hero-King. Just as David delivered his people from the threats of Goliath, Jesus delivers us from the threats of an even greater Goliath, sin and death.
Just as David became the object of praise and adulation for Israel, Jesus, as King, becomes the object of praise and adulation for the church.
(2) The second mediatorial office Jesus fulfills is that of a Prophet. In the Old Testament, a prophet spoke with authority from God to the people. His voice was authoritative because the prophet was speaking for God, “Thus says the Lord.”
Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”
Jesus, here in the line of the prophets as the very, living Word of God, doesn’t just speak for God, but in fact we see him speak as God.
When he speaks, God speaks. When he acts, God acts, because Jesus fulfills the role of King and Prophet.
(3) The final, and I would say greatest, mediatorial office Jesus fulfills is that of a Priest. If the prophets in Israel represented God to the people, the priests represented the people to God.
The primary function of a priest was to offer sacrifices of atonement, or propitiation, to God on behalf of a sinful people who, before the law of God, deserved the justice that the law demands of offenders.
Therefore, the Lord established word-pictures for the people, shadows, illustrations to which they could look and believe that God would forgive their sins by making propitiation for their sins.
To propitiate is a biblical doctrine that means “to satisfy the demands of justice.” In the Old Testament, that propitiation was in the form of animals, which foreshadowed the ultimate sacrificial lamb, the ultimate scapegoat, who would be Jesus.
Upon seeing Jesus, John the Baptizer exclaimed in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
You see, Jesus, as Priest, does not merely offer a lamb, he becomes the lamb. Upon the altar of a cross, Jesus absorbed the our curse of judgment in himself, so that we can absorb the blessing of reconciliation with God.
If you ever travel to Scotland, or anywhere there are lots of sheep, it is likely that you’re going to see a very unusual sight.
It is very sad, but sometimes when lambs are born, their mothers die. The problem is that a mother sheep will only allow her own lambs to drink her milk. Without milk, an orphaned lamb would die, too.
However, and it is very sad, but sometimes a mother will lose one of her own lambs who, for whatever reason, doesn’t make it. What shepherds will do in this case is remove the sheepskin from the dead lamb and use it like a coat to cover an orphaned lamb. When the mother sheep smells the coat of her own lamb that covers the orphan, she will welcome the orphaned lamb to nurse as if it were her very own.
This is what God the Father has done for us in Jesus, the Lamb of God. Through his death, we who were orphaned lambs, are able to receive Jesus’ covering of perfect righteousness.
Can you believe it?!
Now, when we approach God, the aroma of that righteousness delights the Father and we are received with his deepest affection. Because of the coat Jesus gives, we need not fear, but simply draw near.
As Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “14 Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet was without sin. 16 Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”
Who is Jesus – Review and Discussion Guide
- What does the name Jesus mean and how does that reveal the mission for which he was incarnate?
- Explain the hypostatic union of how Jesus is both fully God and fully man.
- Describe the three mediatorial offices of Christ and how each connects to the redemptive mission of Jesus.
- How is Jesus “the Lamb of God?”