What’s the Big Deal About Jesus?

Who is this Jesus we Christians say we believe in? What’s the big deal about him, anyway? Why does he matter when life is beating me down? Isn’t it enough to just believe in God?

These are the questions a Jewish tax collector named Levi Matthew wanted to answer when he wrote The Gospel of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament of the Bible.

He answered boldly. Without equivocation, he claimed the following in the very first words he penned:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.—Matthew 1:1

To our modern english-speaking ears, this just seems like the introduction to a genealogy.

You know…

The boring part.

But take another look…

The book of the genealogy of Jesus

Christ,

The son of David,

The son of Abraham.

Jesus is his birth name. Christ, son of David, and son of Abraham are titles that were pregnant with significance to Matthew’s readers.

Have you ever thought about what they mean?

Here’s a quick summary.

JESUS

The name, Jesus, is originally from the Hebrew, Yeshua (Joshua), which means Jehovah saves. You may recall from your Christmas celebrations what the Angel commanded Joseph,

You will call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.—Matthew 1:21

Matthew wants you to know…

Jesus is God’s Savior for you.

 CHRIST

The title, Christ, signifies that Jesus is The (capital “T”) Messiah, The Anointed (chosen and empowered) One. He is the man God appointed for His redemptive mission. He is anointed to be God’s chosen Prophet, chosen Priest, and chosen King.

As Prophet he declares God law and gospel to whoever has ears to hear. As Priest he makes atonement for sins and intercedes for his people. As King he rules over us to bless and protect us from the evil one.

He is the Mediator between God and men, the only Redeemer of mankind.

Matthew wants you to know…

Jesus is God’s Christ for you.

 THE SON OF DAVID

The title, Son of David, signifies that Jesus is the heir of God’s promise to King David.

He promised that one of David’s descendants would inherit an everlasting throne.

I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.—2 Samuel 7:13

Jesus is the heir of David’s throne. He is the promised, everlasting King.

He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless His people with an everlasting, righteous kingdom.

Matthew wants you to know…

Jesus is God’s King for you.

 THE SON OF ABRAHAM

The title, Son of Abraham, signifies that Jesus is the heir of God’s ancient promise to Abraham.

He promised that one of Abraham’s descendants would bring blessing to every nation.

In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.—Genesis 12:3

Jesus is the heir of Abraham’s blessing. He is the promised blessing.

He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring everlasting blessing to a people chosen from among all the families of earth.

Matthew wants you to know…

Jesus is God’s Blessing for you.

 SAVIOR, CHRIST, KING, BLESSING

By attributing these titles to Jesus, Matthew is boldly declaring his faith that, in Jesus, the great promises of God have been fulfilled among us. Salvation has come. The Christ has come. The Kingdom has come. The Blessing has come.

For us!

When life has you by the throat…

When mental illness threatens to steal your mind…

When grief from loss, or fear of tomorrow, grips your heart…

Remember this:

Jesus

Christ,

the son of David,

the son of Abraham.

For you!

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Surprised by Joy (of Church Membership??)

Sunday morning a few weeks ago, as Dawn and I stood before the congregation of Ivy Creek Church declaring our vows of membership, something unexpected happened…

A surprising joy washed over me.

Joy doormat

[handmade project photo courtesy of Lisa Leonard Online]

It was sudden and strong, unlooked for and unhoped for. It was the sort of arresting moment that said, “Pay attention! A pearl of wisdom lies hidden nearby.” I shared my experience with Dawn later, and she confirmed that she had felt the same surprising joy. But as we talked it over, we realized that we shouldn’t have been surprised.

I know what you’re thinking.

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Why We Need Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Today, this second Sunday of Advent, I listened to a sermon which gave voice to something I’ve bee thinking and feeling a lot lately:

I’m sick of living in this world.

I know that sounds negative and perhaps, makes you wonder about my emotional health and what kind of sermons I hear. But, I believe my reflections and the sermon’s arise from sound minds.

The sermon was an exposition of Isaiah 59:8-20 and this lyrical theme from the Christmas hymn O, Holy Night:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining…”

I know most people don’t really believe in religious notions like sin. Most no longer believe that human error ascends to the level of offenses committed against an almighty, law-giving God.

Long lay the world...

But the Christian does.

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