Jesus Christ

Advent season has begun. Many churches and Christians observe specific rituals and remembrances during advent season. Special candles are lit, and Scriptures are read. Some families have advent devotions. Some followers of Jesus will read through the advent accounts in the Gospels.

For many however, the theological implications of advent have been overshadowed by the commercialization of the Christmas holidays: Christmas movies that don’t contain any references to Christ; shopping and gift buying with only minimal interest in the needs of others; busyness and bustle that stretches and stresses us as the year wanes away.

Let me encourage you not to bind yourself to the commercialization of the Christmas season. Remember that Christmas is advent.

Advent means the arrival of someone notable or important.

When we discuss advent, we are not talking about your friends or family coming over for the holidays. Nor do we mean the jolly old Saint Nick arriving to leave presents at your house.

Advent means the arrival of the Christ-child. The arrival of the Christ-child more than 2000 years ago invites us to experience what is meaningful.

Advent is a time to reflect. Reflect on the Christ who came into the world. Make time for gathered worship at your church. Make time to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. Make time to think about the events of the Advent and especially the One who came.

Advent is a time to refocus. Refocus on the reason Christ came. Jesus did not arrive in the world to bring us presents and financial blessings. He is not a religious version of Santa Claus. Jesus is Lord, and as we are reminded in one of my favorite carols, Jesus was Lord at birth (“Silent Night”). Jesus did not come that we might sentimentalize the Christmas season. Jesus came with a ministry and a mission to serve, preach, and bring salvation. Advent is important because of Jesus’ passion and resurrection.

So as you focus on the Christ-child, remember that he grew up to be our substitute on Calvary’s cross.

Advent is a time to renew. Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ. Are you following Jesus? Or are you following your own way of life? Jesus did not come merely to save us. He came to remake us. Jesus doesn’t merely invite us to experience forgiveness. He invites us to experience regeneration. Jesus does not only call us to meet him. He calls us to follow him. Advent is a time to renew your commitment as a Christ-follower.

Here are some specific ways for you to renew your commitment to Christ this advent season:

  • Make time to read the advent stories and thank Jesus for coming. If you are not currently reading the Bible regularly, why don’t you begin December 1 by reading one chapter a day in the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke. Or here is a link to an advent devotional by John Piper. For the first 25 days of December, thank God for one specific thing he has done for you because of advent.
  • Rekindle an old advent tradition or begin a new one. Make a meal (or cookies) for someone who is lonely. Buy Christmas gifts for a family in need (parents, have your children help with this and involve them in generosity). Go caroling. Embrace the joy of the shepherds who just had to tell what they had seen on that first Christmas night.
  • Be present at gathered worship. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on church attendance. Sure, it is convenient to watch at home or to not go at all. But one way to renew your commitment to Christ is to make time to be in gathered worship. You need it, and your fellow church members need to see you there as well. Let your worship this advent season renew your faith in Jesus.
  • Invite others to meet Christ. Christmas traditions and trappings are beautiful. Enjoy your tree, the meals, the gatherings, and the presents. But never forget that Christmas would mean little without the cross. Jesus came to save not to make us sentimental. Give someone the greatest gift this season. Invite them to receive eternal life by following Jesus.

Above all, celebrate the Christ who came to bring us life.

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The word, Messiah, comes from the Old Testament. It means “anointed one.” Transliterated into the New Testament, Messiah, is Christ.

Jesus, or in Hebrew Jeshua, is the given name for God’s Son born to Mary (Matthew 1:21). Jesus means “savior” or “Yahweh saves.” We should not think of Christ as a family lame or last name like we use names today. When we use the combination Jesus Christ, the Bible is reflecting the given name of God’s Son, Jesus, and his title, Christ or Messiah. Jesus is the anointed One come from God.

Messianic prophecies span the Old Testament.

  • The Messiah would be anointed king (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 2:7-9; Isaiah 9:6-7; 16:5).
  • The Messiah would be anointed priest (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:13).
  • The Messiah would be anointed prophet (Isaiah 61:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:18).
  • The Messiah would be anointed judge (Isaiah 2:4; 11:3-4; Micah 4:3).
  • The Messiah would be anointed servant of God (Isaiah 42:1-4; 52:13-53:12)

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for the Messiah. They longed for the anointed One of God to free them from Roman rule and lead them back to prominence. The problem with the Messianic theology of Jesus’ day was that many were looking only for a political Messiah. Even the disciples were guilty of this perspective (Matthew 16:21-23).

In my previous word of the week posts, we have reflected on the doctrines related to Christology (Christ) and soteriology (salvation). Today’s post about Jesus as Messiah culminates the primary biblical storyline.

Jesus is the theme of the Bible. It is right and accurate to describe Jesus as the centerpiece of salvation history and biblical history. The Old Testament anticipated his coming in the Messianic prophecies. The Old Testament also prefigured his coming through salvation analogies (the Tabernacle and the Temples, the priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Law, and the Kingship).

When we read about Jesus in the New Testament, he fulfilled the prophecies and anticipations of the Old Testament.

  • Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; John 18:37; 19:3).
  • Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 4:14ff).
  • Jesus Christ is the Prophet who speaks God’s Words (John 1:1; Matthew 7:28-29).
  • Jesus Christ is the Judge (John 5:30; Acts 17:31).
  • Jesus Christ is the Servant of God (John 13:1-20; Mark 10:45).
  • Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).
  • Jesus Christ is the Temple where we meet God (Matthew 12:6; 26:61).
  • Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; 1 Peter 2:24).

There is no theme more central to God’s purposes in the Bible than the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

On this special day in Christian liturgy, Good Friday, we should necessarily reflect and meditate on Jesus Christ (Savior and Anointed One).

It is because he is Savior that we celebrate today. It is because he is God’s Lamb slain once for all that we can have forgiveness. It is because he is our Great High Priest that our sins can be atoned. It is because he fulfilled God’s Law that he can take our place. It is because he is King that the powers and authorities (our enemies) are subject to him. It is because he is Judge that our sins are judged and that he is sure to judge the sinfulness of the world. It is because he is God’s Servant who gave himself for us that we can meet God.

None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is. None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is.

The reason that the tragedy of the false accusations, faux trial, injustice, hate, and suffering of Jesus does not negate the goodness of God is that it accomplished God’s plan for salvation. Good Friday is good not because of the injustice, suffering, and hate Jesus experienced, but because Jesus’ experiences bring us the privilege of salvation. Through the person and work of Jesus we can know God.

Our redemption could not have happened unless Jesus Christ faced the terrible tragedies of Good Friday.

It is because of this day, Good Friday, in human and Christian history that we can celebrate salvation.

The entire plan of salvation, from the purpose of God in eternity to its outworking in human history, comes to focus in Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the work of Christ cannot be separated from his person, so what he did and who he is are right at the heart of the biblical message. Christology is the heartbeat of the Christian faith.

Robert Letham, The Work of Christ, 23.

Good Friday encourages us to meditate on Jesus Christ, his person and work. Make some time today to look up the verses above. Consider who Christ is, what he did, and what that means for our redemption.

As the Old Testament anticipated the coming of the Messiah, so Good Friday anticipated the resurrection of the Messiah. Today is a day for contemplation and confession. But it is also a day to rejoice and celebrate the redeeming work of Jesus Christ: Savior and Messiah.

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