We’ve looked at Joseph & Mary as embodying the best of Faithful Israel’s longing for God to bring salvation. We’ve looked at the Wicked Dynasty of Herod which the text of Scripture intends to be viewed as the incarnation of Man’s Satanic Rebellion. But now, we must look at the babe which was born a child, and yet a King. The Lord Jesus. All of history was leading up to His birth, and history ever since has been in reference to Him.
Summary of the Text
The One by Whom all things were called into being is here given a name. He who separated the Light from Darkness, is here separated from the unclean world by the sign of circumcision. He who established the covenant with Abraham, receives the sign of that covenant (Gen. 17:12). He who ordained the Laws of Moses, is here submitted to the Laws of Moses (Lev. 12:3).
The eternal Christ was not ashamed to count us His brothers (Heb. 2:11), and so received an earthly name. The Omnipotent, and eternally begotten Son of God, who, by His God-hood, only ever knew true freedom, here becomes a debtor to all of Moses’ Law. And we might ask why did God determine to do all this? The answer is found in the explanation for this name which the Angel declared to Joseph: “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Mt. 1:21).”
Jehovah was, is, & shall be Salvation
Jesus would have been a common enough name in Israel. It is effectively the same name as Joshua. If we drill down into what the name means, we find it means Jehovah is salvation. Jehovah had always been the salvation of His people. The Ark in Noah’s day revealed that Jehovah is Salvation. The Ram in the thicket, upon Mt. Moriah, revealed to Abraham & Isaac that Jehovah is Salvation. At Penuel, Jacob wrestled with God Incarnate, only to find that Jehovah is Salvation. Genesis closes with Joseph delivering not only his own family, but the “entire world” by God’s grace, letting all peoples know Jehovah is Salvation.
Moses led the people out of Pharaoh’s bondage, and the Red Sea was cleft in two, and thus the great host of delivered Hebrews saw the Right Hand of the Lord bared, and could rightly sing, “Jehovah is Salvation.” Of course, Joshua leads the covenant people on a conquering romp in judgement of the Canaanite sins, and certainly in this we see Jehovah is Salvation. The Judges were continually raised up to summon the people to return unto the Lord, and wrought mighty deeds which left it without question: Jehovah is Salvation.
David beheaded a mighty Giant, expanded the border of the Promised Land to its fullest extent, established a house of worship on Mount Zion, and filled it with melodic Psalms which proclaimed, “Jehovah is Salvation.” His son Solomon built a resplendent temple for all people everywhere to come and worship the true and living God, inviting all to come and behold that Jehovah is Salvation. The Prophets called the people to repent from their sins, warned of exile, and insisted that in Jehovah alone is Salvation. And then Nehemiah & Ezra rebuilt Jerusalem, renewed the covenant so that it might be indisputable that Jehovah is Salvation. All of Israel’s history declared that Jehovah is Salvation, but now Jehovah was Salvation. Salvation in the flesh. Salvation had a name, a face, a body…just like ours.
What is in this Name
The New Testament goes on to tell us all that is contained in the name, person, and work of this child we celebrate today. If you would be saved, you must call upon this name (Acts 4:12, Rom 10:13). One day every knee will bow before this name, and every tongue confess this name, Jesus, as the Lord King of the earth (Phi. 2:11-12). Indeed as Solomon the Wise once taught, this name of the Lord is a strong tower, which the righteous run into and are saved (Pro. 18:10). By this name the Apostles summoned lame to leap and commanded demons to flee.
By faith, you bear this name. The saints are often reproached for bearing His name, but Peter tells us to rejoice when we partake of the scorn which the world holds for Jesus (1 Pt. 4:14). Wicked politicians and corrupted priests sought to restrict the teaching of the Apostles in the authority of the name of Jesus (Act 4:18). If you receive this name, you bring down all manner of accusation and scorn upon you. The enemies of God in history have hurled all manner of slander upon Christians: cannibals, atheists, rabble-rousers, trouble-makers, disturbers of the peace, devils. In our own time, holding fast to Jesus and His teaching makes you a hater, someone who needs to check their privilege, a Right-Wing Extremist, Domestic Terrorists.
But the Good News of Great Joy, which the Angels declared, and which the Apostles spread out in the world to herald, and which the church militant has faithfully taught the nations is this: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment (1Jo 3:23).” Here is God’s command to you: believe on the name Jesus.
All Things Are His
Jesus grew up in despised Nazareth. Jesus’ ministry was plagued by legal problems, assassination attempts, he was betrayed by a close friend, traded for a murderer, crucified and numbered among the transgressors. Jesus’ name was brought to utter ignominy. Jesus’ name was brought low in the grave, by the raging of wicked rulers and envious rivals. And yet, despite it all, through it all, by the power of God, Jesus is the Name above all names. Today we rejoice in this great salvation which Jehovah brought to us. As one of Wesley’s hymns puts it:
1 Jesus, the Name high over all,
in hell or earth or sky;
angels and men before it fall,
and devils fear and fly.
Jesus, the Name to sinners dear,
the Name to sinners giv’n;
it scatters all their guilty fear,
it turns their hell to heav’n.
2 O that the world might taste and see
the riches of His grace!
The arms of love that compass me
would all the world embrace.
Thee I shall constantly proclaim,
though earth and hell oppose;
bold to confess Thy glorious Name
before a world of foes.
3 His only righteousness I show,
His saving truth proclaim;
’tis all my business here below
to cry, “Behold the Lamb!”
Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His Name,
preach Him to all, and cry in death,
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”
As we exchange gifts, spread our feasts, enjoy our new toys & tools & ties, we are celebrating a Name. A Name who has the only lawful claim on all things. When you hand a gift to another, or pass around the cheese & bacon-topped potato-skins, you’re simply passing around the lawful possession of Christ the King.
He has, in His kindness, given us all things to freely enjoy. It’s like when you are visiting some enormous Ice Cream shop with dozens and dozens of flavors. You might try a flavor and say, “Oh you’ve got to try this one.” As created beings, that is all we can do. All of our giving is derivative giving.
It is imitative giving. It is tasting and seeing that the Lord is good and then handing around goodness to those around us and saying, “Have you seen this shadow-glory yet? Have you tasted this appetizer of eternal joy yet? Can you believe that this too is our birthright in Christ? This fudge is glorious, but is light as a feather compared to the eternal weight of glory which shall cascade upon us right around the corner.”
All these joys are enjoyable, because God made peace with you by the blood of Jesus. We must not overlook that the central message of Christmas is that Jesus (Jehovah is Salvation) is coupled with Emmanuel (God with Us). God’s deliverance of His people was by God taking the place of His people. You are saved by Jehovah because Jehovah is with you.
So Merry Christmas in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the central point of not only Christmas but of History. This only becomes a cliche or a trite saying if we say it without believing it and living in accordance with it. And living in accordance with this truth includes giving generous gifts, having two (or even three) extra Christmas cookies, and laughing like those who are truly free, those who truly rest under the peace on earth which Jesus’ reign has brought about.