One of the things often overlooked in many people’s understanding of Scripture is the difference between Christ and Jesus. Christ is not Jesus’ last name, as if His name could’ve just as easily been Jesus Smith, or Jesus Johnson. (If we’re actually looking for His last name, it was likely ben Yosef.)
The word Christ refers to the eternal Son, the second member of the Trinity who, as John 1 describes below, was not only with God at the beginning, He was with God before the beginning because He was God and is God.
The well-known quote attributed to St. Augustine is appropriate here: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Though there are some areas of Scripture where there are broader interpretations, John 1 begins with essentials, non-negotiable tenets of confessional Christian faith.
John 1:1-5, 9-14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.
9-14: The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1 describes the moment when the eternal Son put on the flesh and blood of a human being; to be born of a natural birth like every other child, and to make His dwelling among us.
The name Jesus was given by the angel to both Mary and Joseph for the Christ child. Jesus is a name with strong Hebrew roots – Yeshua, or as we say Joshua – which means “the Lord is salvation.”
At God’s appointed time, the eternal Christ became the incarnate Christ in embryonic form, entering the dimensions of the created world that we call our earthly home. He was born as an infant who would bear the name: “the Lord is salvation.”
Christ is “the Word,” who was from the beginning, with God, and was God, and created all things light and life in the universe. Christ, through His light, is also conquering all darkness: That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it; though many in the world still do not recognize him.
When Joseph, Jesus’ surrogate father was told about the virgin birth, the angel announced that Jesus, the Christ, would have another name: “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). In Hebrew, the name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) is a combined word: immanu (im means “with” and has a first-person plural) and ‘el, which is a name for God.
The First Advent of the Messiah is not the first time we see the Eternal Christ present on earth as Immanuel, God with Us.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Genesis 1 when God says, “let us create human beings in our own image – male and female…”
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Genesis 22 when God provides the sacrifice for Abraham, a symbol of Christ’s substitutionary death for the sins of people.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Exodus when in the symbol of the Passover lamb, whose blood is shed to save God’s people.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in the Messianic messages of hope from the Torah to the Prophets like Isaiah and in the Psalms.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Joshua as the commander of the Lord’s army who brings us salvation and calls us to go and take His name with us.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Daniel in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Malachi, as the Lord who will come in His temple, the Sun of righteousness, with healing in His rays.
AND THEN…the world is truly turned upside down at the time of the First Advent—
As Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4…But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
The culmination of the eternal Christ’s presence on the earth is what we call “the Incarnation,” which is what John describes in 1:14: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah and King of Kings born in the flesh of a human being as a baby boy.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Jesus’ perfect life lived among human beings (Hebrews 4:15)
-We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John where Jesus in His earthly ministry was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to bring Good News, as: “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news; the captives released, the oppressed set free and the year of the Lord’s favor proclaimed.” (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 4:18-19)
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in Jesus’ teaching – through sermons, parables, exhortations, warnings, prophecies, and the fulfillment of the entire Law of God in two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in the passion of Christ – betrayal, arrest, insults, torture, and crucifixion.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” at the moment of the death of Jesus’ physical body – as He declares, “It is finished,” and sin is defeated for good.
We see Immanuel, “God with us,” in the victorious resurrection of Jesus the Christ – so that we can proclaim, “Death has been defeated, He has rescued us from the grave.
Indeed…Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15)
And we see Immanuel, “God with us,” who right now is interceding for us as He sits at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus, our Immanuel who is coming back again as the conquering King of Kings to take His children home so that we may be where He is as He reigns forever and ever, AMEN.
1 Peter 1:20-21: He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Hebrews 1:1-12: Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
AND: He became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs… when he brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “And let all God’s angels worship him.”
AND: To the Son [He says]: “Your throne, O God,
is forever and ever,
and the scepter of your kingdom
is a scepter of justice.”
AND: “In the beginning, Lord,
you established the earth,
and the heavens are the works of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain.
They will all wear out like clothing;
12 you will roll them up like a cloak,
and they will be changed like clothing.
But you are the same,
and your years will never end.”
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