COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the LORD I AM promised he would visit and redeem his people. Though humanity had fallen into a cycle of sin and death, God pledged to break through and recreate his world. His own particular people Israel repeatedly failed in their mission to be a blessing to the world. Yet the LORD continued to promise that he would enter the world to make things right.
The accounts of Jesus’ birth indicate that the first Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. His very name “Jesus” means “The LORD saves.” This week we will explore how from his conception and infancy Jesus received mighty titles indicating that he embodies the hope of the Scriptures.
The mosaics in the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo were completed in the early 500s. They run along the length of both sides of the sanctuary. In one row, a procession of consecrated women flow toward the infant Jesus on his mother’s lap. They are preceded by the three wise men bearing gifts to the newborn king. In this week’s mosaic, you can see Jesus making a sign of blessing as he receives those who come to him. Jesus is depicted as appearing older than he was in the Biblical account, an early artistic way of showing the paradox that he was both truly human and truly divine.
This is the child for whom Mary and Joseph have waited. This is the Redeemer for which the world has pined! He is here now, the desire of nations and the hope of every heart, drawing people to himself. The incarnate Son of God is the key that unlocks centuries of prophecy by his surprising arrival. This week, we will explore the prophecies expecting Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus: The Lord Saves
Day 1 Sunday
EXPLORE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).
ISAIAH 60: 1-2; 16b
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
MATTHEW 1: 18-21
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The name Jesus means, “the LORD saves.” This is not any old god! This is the LORD I AM, the Triune God of Grace who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the God who created the heavens and the earth.
He called a particular people, Israel, to himself with a plan that they should bless the world with the knowledge of the one true God. This is the LORD who came himself to save us when we had gone astray.
The way he chose to come to us was as the child Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. As we think of his name, we wonder, “From what do we need to be saved?”
Keep pondering until you come up with at least three items!
How is it that only the LORD can save us from these things?
PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!
Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of your people, be your name to me today;
be Jesus, the LORD who saves.
LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
He has granted to us his precious and very great promises,
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).
LUKE 2: 11, 15-16
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
The angels announced the arrival of the God who had made the journey from heaven to earth to be our Savior.
What did the shepherds have to do?
In what ways could we today “go to Bethlehem” to see what God has done? And to make it known?
Pray through the words of this hymn (It’s to the tune of “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” if you want to sing it!).
Jesus! what a friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul.
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
J. Wilbur Chapman. Our Great Savior. 1910.
LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN