Friday, December 4, 2020

Born, Your People to Deliver

 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners

    (Isaiah 61:1)
Around 700 years after Isaiah penned theses words, Jesus stood up in the synagogue, read this passage and then announced, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21).

When the angel of the Lord first visited Joseph, seeking to calm his fears about taking an already-pregnant wife, he also issued a huge surprise: “. . . You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) This was not an ordinary baby. He would not receive an ordinary name.

Though there is sometimes confusion about the translation of Yeshua, the Hebrew name for Jesus, it is clearly implied by the angel’s message that the name means Yahweh saves.

Earlier this week I read a Desiring God article, “The Name God Gave His Son”, in which David Mathis speaks about this very topic. He writes,
“That this unique child’s name would be Yahweh saves was understandable for Joseph. Of course, God’s people needed saving — from the Gentiles. From the Romans who ruled over them; from local puppets of Caesar, like Herod and Pilate.”

Indeed, Isaiah proclaims in chapter 9, verse 6,
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

However, Jesus’ name and purpose was never about military might or royal rule. Long before He was given the name Yeshua, Isaiah recorded God’s intent:
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Immanuel, God with us. In the wake of the Babylonians, the Persians, Medes, Greeks, and now Romans, how easily the Israelites had forgotten the sustaining power of God’s presence. He didn’t want them to think of salvation from a conquering hero, like their ancestor, David. He wanted them to remember was His presence with them in Egypt that fateful night when the lamb, the door frame, and the blood was all it took for captivity and death and darkness to pass over.

"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life" (Leviticus 17:11).

Mathis concludes,
“And so, the Messiah came not simply to provide a different rescue than the nation expected, but to provide a far more important salvation. . . He [Jesus] is the one, singular figure long anticipated by king David and the prophets. And yet he is even more — exceedingly more — than they anticipated, more than they could ask or think.”

Circle back to Joseph, hearing the angel’s words for the first time; to Mary already knowing what the angel proclaimed: His name will be Jesus. God saves. He will be called Immanuel. God with us.

When Isaiah penned those words, he could not have known. When Mary and Joseph heard His name, when they laid Him in the manger, when the wisemen presented Him with incense, they could not have dreamed—that their son would give up His life, as like a lamb, to overcome darkness, sin, and death once and for all. A new salvation had come.

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