Jesus, Son of God
Sermon published by Pastor Joel Pukallus
It is quite interesting to look at the names and titles given to Jesus, and there are so many of them.
There are not many names given in the bible by an angel, but there is one that we know very well: It is both a title, and a proper name. It was the name given by the Angel Gabriel when he came and appeared to Mary. This name of course in Greek is Jesus. In Hebrew it is Jeshua: Joshua to us. What it means is; he will save.
The angels appeared to both parents telling them what to name him. That would be a bit of guidance that would be useful when you are expecting a child, I think.
In Matthew, we hear of the angel appearing to Joseph and saying “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Luke 1:30 “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
I wonder what his name meant to him as he grew. He was God, and he knew it. We have evidence of his growing wisdom that was beyond human limits when he was answering the questions of the teachers of the law in the temple at just twelve or thirteen. These were men who had stored up the acquired knowledge of their entire religion for centuries, and yet they were amazed at the knowledge of a boy.
I wonder if his name served as a constant precursor of what he was to endure in his suffering and death. He always lived in the shadow of the cross, and what was to come. Would that make a little boy more serious, knowing that he was born to save, born to die?
I wonder if his friends made fun of him, the way that kids normally make fun of names. I wonder if the bullies who pushed him in the dirt teased him “He will save, hey?” Who’s going to save you now? Childish prototypes of the taunts he was to hear as he hung on the cross. Come down from there and save yourself! ““He will save!” indeed.” He can’t even save himself.
Jeshua, Jesus: He will save.
The other part of his name that we are looking at was part of his proper name too, but no-one knew it at the time.
He would have been known then by the Jewish and Aramaic speaking people by the name: Jeshua Ben-Joseph.
Jesus, Son of Joseph, or in the Greek tradition, he would have been named after where it was that he came from. Jesus of Nazareth.
In the end what they killed him for was the fact that he told them his true name, Jesus, Son of God. Jeshua Ben-Yahweh. Jesus, not of Nazareth, but of heaven.
Son of God. How easy that is for us today to understand, to believe. It is not a strange concept for Christians. We have grown up with it. But remember, gods are supposed to be so different from humans, so utterly alien, that for them to have a human child is impossible! Ask anybody.
The muslims think we are dishonouring our God by suggesting that he would dirty himself by having a human child, by having anything to do with a human woman. Their god has a very different view of human beings as slaves, rather than as the object of his love.
It shows the contempt he has for them, that he would think of them as dirty.
But the love of the living God, the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit we can see in the fact that God did not, as the carol says “abhor the virgin’s womb.” He had nothing to prove. He could lower himself, he could get dirt under his fingernails, and that would not take away from the fact that he was still God. For our God might be a jealous God, but he is not an insecure one. His love is greater than his ego.
Many empires, many religions, including the invading Roman one, have included in their religions the human wish to become gods, to search for immortality. None did it the other way around, and involved god becoming human, the immortal becoming mortal. It was the opposite of anything the world had ever known.
In the end it was the claim that this name makes that got Jesus killed, the claim that he was the Son of God. The charge of blasphemy that was levelled against him was true for anyone that claimed to be God, or use his name in such an intimate way as to call him Father. Unless of course, that person was telling the truth, and really was God. But they missed that fact.
All the names, all the titles: Wonderful counsellor, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, God with us. All come together in one man, Jesus, the Son of God. Fully human, so that he could die the same death we die, and fully God, so that he could smash the power of that death for us for ever.
Santa Claus won’t save you this Christmas, or reindeer or snowmen. It’s a nice image, and there will be some wonderful family times around the tree with all the trimmings. But Christmas without Jesus the Son of God is a sad parody, a hollow sham.
God’s Son, born of a woman, walked the earth from approximately 3 B.C. to A.D. 30. How much of an influence has he had? There have been no more books written about anyone else than him. Up until now we have even judged time itself around him. A.D. means the year of our Lord. Not someone else’s god. Our Lord. Not a god who hates humans, or an angry, vengeful force, but the God of Love. The God we can only fully know through his Son.
May 2021 be another year of our Lord in your life. He is almost here now. Christmas is close, and we are another year closer to the time when he comes again. Let every heart prepare him room. He is the son of God.