Ques. 29. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is Savior?
Ans. Because he saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins; and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.
Ques. 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
Ans. They do not; for though they boast in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior: for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior; or that they, who by a true faith receive their Savior, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation.
In this Lord’s Day our fathers concentrate their attention on the first three words of the second article of our Apostolic Creed, “And in Jesus.” The confession we make here is, “I believe in Jesus.” Our Catechism proceeds very slowly here, taking each name of the Savior separately, in order to show the significance and importance of each name. Therefore the first name that is discussed is Jesus’ personal name, which He received at His birth, by which He was known and addressed by His family and acquaintances. He is Jesus.
What makes this name so very important is the fact that, not His parents, but God determined what He should be called. The angel Gabriel informed Mary, “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:31). Later Joseph was also informed that Mary had conceived a child by the Holy Spirit, and he was instructed, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Joseph and Mary faithfully carried out this mandate, for in Luke 2:21 we read, “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
This name is so very rich in meaning. The first part “JE” refers to Jehovah, the almighty, unchangeable God Who keeps covenant forever. The second part “SUS” means “saves” or “salvation.” Thus the name means that the almighty, unchangeable, covenant God saves His people from their sins in the person of Jesus.
What an amazing name! This is especially true because the Scriptures always teach us that salvation is of the Lord. The Psalmist sang of Jehovah as his Rock, and Fortress, and Deliverer (Psalm 18:2). Through the prophet Isaiah Jehovah declares, “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no savior” Isaiah 43:11). Therefore this name declares to us that Jesus is none other than the Son of God, even as Gabriel had promised to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). And as the angel told Joseph in a dream, the Scriptures were being fulfilled, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The expectation of the church of the shadows was that the Messiah would be none other than God Himself. Therefore when Nathanael met Jesus he cried out in adoration, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God: thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Peter later confesses as spokesman for the other disciples, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). And after the resurrection Thomas addresses Him as “My Lord and my God.” How very important it is that we maintain that God came to tabernacle among men. God was in the womb of Mary, lay in the manger of a cattle stall, walked and taught and showed His power among us, shed His own blood on the cross, entered into our death to conquer death and the grave and to bring us into eternal, heavenly fellowship with Him in glory. Only God could bear the burden of wrath against our sins, deliver us from it, and merit for us a place with Him in His glorious kingdom.
Yet at the same time, the name Jesus is such a lowly name. It expresses so completely the fact that He became like unto us in all things, sin excluded. Evidently His parents, brothers and sisters, and disciples referred to Him as Joshua, a name that was by no means uncommon among the Jews of the old dispensation. This name appears sometimes as Isaiah or Hosea, but always expresses the idea that salvation belongs to the Lord. Jesus became like unto us, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone. He was born of Adam. He came forth from the loins of Abraham, out of the tribe of Judah, and from the royal line of David. He was born in abject poverty as the poorest of the poor. From the moment that He was born, He was rejected and hunted like a beast of the forest. He came unto His own affairs, to which He had a rightful claim, and yet His own people did not receive Him. Scornfully He was referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth,” since no one expected any good to come from Galilee. He was the Man of Sorrows, the suffering Servant of God. Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land, was His type. The Joshua who accompanied the Jews back to Jerusalem from Babylon as their highpriest was a predecessor, announcing His coming. The prophets, such as Isaiah and Hosea, saw in Him the realization of all their prophecies. He was the Great Servant in God’s House, prepared from eternity, as our eternal Prophet, our exalted Highpriest, and our Glorious King, Who through the way of deepest humility and suffering enters into His glory.
At the same time, Jesus is righteous man. He never had had any sin. Because He had no earthly father, the guilt of Adam’s sin could not be reckoned to Him. Therefore also the Holy Spirit could preserve Him from sin in the womb of Mary. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her during the nine months of her pregnancy, preserving her offspring from her depravity and the depravity of the human race. Jesus could challenge the whole world to try to find sin in Him. The whole world tried its utmost to do just that. Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate strove together to expose just one evil in Him, in order that they could justly condemn Him to death. The harder they tried the more convincingly they proved that no sin could be found in Him. Only then did God take His spotless Lamb and offer Him as a sacrifice for our sins on the accursed tree.
Amazing Name! Wonderful Savior! God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, never reckoning our sins against us. There is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved!
The Only, Complete Savior!
During His earthly ministry Jesus openly declared that, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). The obvious implication is that there is only a twofold possibility, we either confess Jesus as our Savior, or we deny Him. A third possibility, that of neutrality, is ruled out. Our Catechism warns us in no uncertain terms against those who deny Jesus. There are those who deny Him outright; unbelievers who want no part with the Savior, and who possibly even curse His holy Name at every opportunity. But there are also so very many who profess to believe in Jesus, yet in reality deny Him. This Lord’s Day refers to those who seek their salvation and welfare of saints. This refers to members of the Roman Catholic Church who still today worship mother Mary and seek the help of saints in heaven to make their appeals to God. Moreover, the fathers refer to those who seek their salvation and welfare in themselves or somewhere else. There were the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who professed to be sons of Moses and very religious, far above the average Jew, who also professed to be expecting a Messiah, yet who openly rejected Jesus because He condemned them in their self-righteousness. There is the Roman Catholic heresy, still prevalent today, that teaches that the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross was not sufficient to atone for our sins, but must be supplemented by a repeated sacrifice in the mass. And there are those who would maintain that Christ did not actually atone for sin, but only made salvation possible for all men by His death on the cross. He opened the way of escape, but man must still accept that way of escape in order to be saved. Our Catechism points out to us that a partial Savior is no Savior at all. Either Jesus completely saves, or He failed to save. Either we believe in Him as our only and complete Savior, or we make ourselves guilty of denying Him. All those who deny Him receive this condemning testimony from the Lord Himself, that He declares before His Father in heaven: “I know them not.” Jesus, Who stands before the Father in the innermost sanctuary of the heavens declares as Highpriest of His people: “I never knew them. Thou hast not given them to Me. My blood was not shed for them. I never gave them My grace and Spirit. They believe not because they are not of My sheep. They justly perish in their sins.” Those who deny Jesus reject Him in unbelief and experience already in this life the condemning testimony of the Spirit. For whosoever believeth not the Son of man, upon him abideth the wrath of God.
On the other hand, those who by God’s grace confess that, “I am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,” also receive this assurance that Christ claims them as His sheep and intercedes for them before the throne of God.
Blessed Confession: I believe in Jesus!
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer with him; we shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:11-12). Often the saints of the early church must have repeated these reassuring words to each other on sick beds, in times of distress, in prison, or even in the face of death. We belong! We belong to Jesus, because God gave us to Him, has chosen us in Him even from eternity. We are members of His body, so that when He died the accursed death of the cross to atone for our sins we died, when He arose we arose, when He went to be seated at the right hand of God in glory, we were included in Him. Therefore He now pleads for us before the face of the Father, even night and day presenting our needs and asking for blessings on the basis of His atoning work. The Father hears the Son always, and Christ Jesus pours out every blessing for body and soul, for time and for eternity, according to our every need. We are in the palm of Father’s hand, under His watchful eye, so that His ear is always attentive even to our weakest sigh. We know that God is for us, and nothing can be against us. The cross we bear is part of the sufferings of Christ, which God uses to prepare us for glory. In the midst of severest trials we can still say, “More than Conquerors are we!” Christ lives, and we shall live with Him in His glory!
For at the name of JESUS every knee must bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings, over all the creatures of heaven and earth for our sakes, even to carry out our salvation. He reigns supreme over all. Soon He will return to establish His kingdom in the new creation, and we shall live and reign with Him forever, that all praise may arise from our hearts and lips unto all eternity, and God may be all in ALL.