Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Gospel of His Name

The gospel is the good news about the kingdom of God and how Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the story of Israel. The name “Jesus” and the terms “Lord” and “Christ” (or rather, “Messiah”) are loaded with gospel significance.
  • He is called “Jesus,” or “Yeshua” (His name in Hebrew), because “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and yeshuah is the Hebrew word for salvation. So there is connection to the story of Israel in that.
  • He is also called “Messiah”, because He is the “anointed one” God promised to Israel, the one anointed to be King.
  • He is called “Lord,” which speaks of His divinity and His authority as King.
When the Philippian jailer, who was not of Israel, fell on his knees before Paul and begged, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your house” (Acts 16:31). I don’t take that merely as the “plan of salvation.” I see in it a super-condensed proclamation of the gospel: He is savior, He is God’s promised and Anointed King over Israel and the world, and He is divine. If that is not how Paul actually condensed it that sudden moment, it is at least how Luke condensed it in the telling.

Of course, this verse often gets used as nothing more than a personal plan of salvation — about us and how we get saved. Was it important for the Philippian jailer? Sure. That is how the jailer — and each one of us — gets to participate in the bigger story of the kingdom of God. But Paul was also declaring something important about the identify of Jesus and what that means in the history of the world and the purpose of God.

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