An Excerpt from “Who Is He, and Why Has He Come?”
The complete article is available here.
Note: Scripture passages in this article are drawn from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
We find many places in Scripture where the Baby’s identity is given, but perhaps the most appropriate place in the Bible to look is in the Christmas story itself—Luke 2:1-20. On the night of Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord appeared to startled shepherds watching their flocks in fields near Bethlehem. The angel announced the birth and identified the Baby clearly and precisely. He declared, “I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David” (2:10-11). The titles the angel used to refer to the Baby contrast sharply with His lowly, primitive surroundings. Those titles also inform us to a large extent about why this Baby has come into the world.
- The word translated Savior means “deliverer, preserver.” Mary used the term in her song of praise to the Lord in Luke 1:46-55 (see 47). In John 4:42, Samaritans who had heard the testimony of the woman who talked with Jesus at the well (see vv. 1-26) said they now were convinced that He “really is the Savior of the world”—not because of what the woman had told them, but because of what they had heard for themselves. Jesus had stayed in the area for two days (see v. 40). Other passages in the New Testament that use the term Savior to refer to Jesus include Acts 5:31; 13:22-23; Phil. 3:20; 1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Tim. 1:8-10; Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1,11; 3:18; 1 John 4:14; Jude 25. From what would Jesus save people? He would save them “from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
- Messiah translates a Greek term meaning “Anointed One.” This was God’s Anointed One! Often in English we will use the term Christ rather than Messiah, but the meaning is the same. Christ represents the Greek term in English, and Messiah the Hebrew term. The Messiah’s coming had been foretold in the Old Testament (as in Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; and Micah 5:2) and was much anticipated when Jesus arrived on the scene (see John 1:19-27,40-41; 3:25-30; 4:25,29). People generally were looking for a military and political deliverer, so many failed to understand Jesus’ mission. Jesus accomplished God’s will despite all the misconceptions and misunderstandings about Him. John 18:33-38 shows Pilate’s lack of understanding, and Acts 1:6 indicates that even after Jesus was raised from the dead His disciples did not fully comprehend what He had come to accomplish. Still, they had understood to a greater extent than did many (see Matthew 16:13-17; John 6:66-68). And they would understand more in the coming days after the Holy Spirit would come on them (see John 15:26; Acts 2:1-4).
- Finally, the angel called Jesus Lord. As Lord, Jesus is Master and Owner of everything. He is sovereign over all (see Col. 1:15-20). In John 20:28, Thomas used the very same term when, addressing Jesus, He confessed, “My Lord and My God!” Jesus is referred to as “Lord” in a multitude of places in the New Testament, including Acts 10:34-36; 15:10-11; 28:30-31; Romans 5:1,10-11; 13:14; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:14; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:16; Jude 1:21; Revelation 22:21.
Note that the angel cast his announcement in the present tense. Jesus was Savior, Christ, and Lord today—the day He was born. He did not become any of these things later. Indeed, He has been all three of these from eternity past. In one sense, of course, He would become our Savior when He died on the cross; and at the time of His birth, His crucifixion had not yet occurred. Yet when He was born and throughout eternity, no one else ever would qualify to die for another’s sins. In this sense He already was the Savior.
Copyright © 2015 B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.