Considering the Names of Jesus: Son of David

by Nick Laninga
THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, THE SON OF DAVID, DYING AT THE HANDS
OF WICKED MEN.

PSALM 22:7 EVERYONE WHO SEES ME MOCKS ME; THEY GAPE AT ME WITH OPEN MOUTHS AND SHAKE THEIR HEADS AT ME.
These prophetic words from the O.T. paint such a vivid picture of the coming Christ at His crucifixion. No pity was shown to Christ in His distress. As Pilate proclaims “behold the man!”

I would like to offer the following from John Stainer’s cantata “ The Crucifixion.”

From the throne of His cross, the King of grief cries out to a world of unbelief: Oh! Men and women afar and nigh, is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? I laid My eternal power aside, I came from the home of the Glorified, a babe in the lowly cave to lie. Is it nothing to you all ye
that pass by?

I wept for the sorrows and pains of men. I healed them and helped them and loved them, but then, they shouted against Me, “CRUCIFY”! “CRUCIFY”! “CRUCIFY”! Is it nothing to you? Behold Me and see: pierced thro’and thro’ with countless sorrows, and all is for you; for you I suffer, for you I die. Is it nothing to you all ye that pass by? Oh! Men and women your deeds of shame, your sins without reason, and number, and name, I bear them all on this Cross on high. Is it nothing to you that I bow My Head? And nothing to you that My Blood is shed?

OH! PERISHING SOULS TO YOU I CRY! O COME UNTO ME! This awful price, Redemption’s tremendous sacrifice, is paid for you. OH! Why will you die!


Matthew 27:39 “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads”

Others mocked Him and sneered at Him.
THINK ABOUT IT! The question remains for us as humanity continues to pass by. IS IT NOTHING TO YOU? Do we pass by and continue to sneer, mock and wag our heads?

Three men shared death upon a hill
But only one man died;
A thief and God Himself—
Made rendezvous.
Three crosses still
Are borne up Calvary’s hill

Where sin still lifts them high;
Upon the one sag broken men
Who, cursing, die;
Another holds the praying thief,
Or those who, penitent as he,
Still find the Christ
Beside them on the tree.
By Miriam Lefevre Crouse


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jn. 3:16

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Considering the Names of Jesus: Bishop of Souls

By Ben Gibson

I Peter 2:24-25

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

For those Christians in lower church settings, the language of a Bishop can seem, at best, foreign and, at worst, unduly hierarchical. If we live in a world where we recognize the priesthood of all believers, what good does it do to talk about a Bishop overseeing our souls? To the Reformed, the mention of a Bishop may conjure images of top-down power, of separation from the local church, and of gaudy robes and vestments.

Yet, this is the very language taken up by the apostle Peter to describe Christ’s relationship to diasporic early Christians, spread far and wide throughout Asia Minor. What does this name mean about who Christ is and who we are in relationship to Him?

The Greek translation of this name “Bishop” is episkopos. The root, skopos, we might recognize as the English word “scope” while the prefix epi serves as an intensifier, heightening the significance of the rest of the word. R.C. Sproul helpfully indicates that this word, Bishop, is meant to indicate one with intensive oversight. Having lived and worshiped in the Episcopal Church for several years prior to our move west, I experienced the beauty and difficulty of a Christian community organized in this regard. There is an immense comfort in knowing that there are individuals within the church, dedicated to a pastoral function for the entire church: serving as a pastor to pastors as they lead their flocks. But in our fallen world, to have an individual with this level of authority and oversight has and can lead to abuses and separation. Seemingly, no individual can, or should, bear the weight of overseeing and pastoring the souls of so many.

In this Lenten season, though, we are assured of Christ’s continuing work in our lives. He has not simply died for our sins, but he has been raised to pastor, shepherd, and oversee our souls in this world. Through Lent, the call is to put aside areas of obstacle and temptation within our lives. As the redeemed, we are not cleansed by the blood of Christ and sent on our merry way. We have one who continues to look into our very souls, gently correcting, convicting, and encouraging. Lent represents a call to deep vulnerability in knowing and naming our sins. But this is not done apart from one who knows us, cares for us, and guides us. We have a Bishop of our souls.

Lord, give us the grace and strength to give ourselves over to the painful but healing process of offering our souls up to the intense observation of one who has seen and borne all our sins and pain. May we return to His pastoral care, day after day.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Morning Star

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By Dan Gibson

Today we ponder the meaning of a name applied to Christ in several places—once, directly, in Revelation 22:16 where Christ appropriates the name for himself, and twice, indirectly, in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 2:28.  That name is Morning Star, which points us with sure hope to the dawning of a new day.

But in order to more fully grasp the significance of this name as applied to our Savior, we must understand that Scripture first applies this name to Satan—the tempter, the deceiver, the Evil One.  Read Isaiah 14:12-15 to see with breathtaking clarity the trajectory of Lucifer’s (Satan, the “light bearer”) rise and fall.  This morning star, this son of the dawn, while granted a most privileged place in the firmament of his peers, was not satisfied with his creaturely place.  He sought to elevate himself “above the stars of God.”  His grasping pride got the best of him, and he was consequently cast down, laid low, never to rise to his given pre-eminence among the created hosts.  Read also Ezekiel 28:12-19 where it describes the spiritual entity that is the power behind the throne of the king of Tyre: “You were anointed as a guardian cherub . . . . Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth . . .”

This is the cosmic backdrop to the re-assignment of the name of Morning Star from Lucifer (Satan) to Jesus Christ, who walked the dusty roads of Galilee with Peter and John and the rest of the disciples.  He, the heaven-sent one whose birth was announced by brilliant starlight, walked those roads all the way to Jerusalem, to the cross, and was then laid low, in the grave, in death itself.

What a contrast with Lucifer!  The apostle Paul, in the power of the Spirit, put it this way in Philippians 2: “. . . Christ Jesus . . . being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place . . .”

Take heart as you hear and speak this name of Christ.  A new and true Morning Star now heralds the dawn—a star that has risen from the deepest haunts of darkness, even from the black hole of death—to bring us into his new day to stand before the throne of God by way of the cross, stripped of our pride, cleansed, redeemed, with his name ever on our tongue, to the glory of God the Father.  We are his, and he is ours, that even we may shine like stars in this warped and crooked generation (Philippians 2:15).

 

Considering the Names of Jesus: Father

By Nate Gibson

For a child is born to us,

    a son is given to us.

The government will rest on his shoulders.

    And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (New International Version)

Shortly before my daughter was born, a friend told me that becoming a father would profoundly change the way that I understood the image of God as “the Father”. Intellectually, this made sense to me, and I tried to imagine ahead of time what that change might feel like. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality, though.

I will never forget the moment I first held my daughter–the relief, the joy, the excitement and trepidation, all rolled up into one overwhelming wave. I didn’t pause then to reflect on how my understanding of God as Father changed, but such moments have hit with startling clarity many times over the past two years.

I know full well my own imperfections and weakness, but my daughter is, as all toddlers are, physically weak, albeit strong-willed. Though she may insist with increasing confidence each day that she knows best, to leave her to her own devices would be poor parenting, foolish and dangerous.  For now, I am the strong party in our father-daughter dynamic, and am reminded of this with every meal, every bath-time, every walk down the river.

My daughter is not a helpless infant anymore, but neither is she self-sufficient by any stretch of the imagination.  At the end of the day, she is reliant on my wife and myself.

Of course, this will change. Soon enough, she’ll be getting herself dressed, communicating complex thoughts in sentences, and looking out for traffic all on her own when she’s out for a walk. Our support will be crucial for her to grow out of toddlerhood and into maturity, but the day will come when we will no longer be there for her.

Consider, then, the image of Jesus as Everlasting Father. We are the toddlers in this relationship: weak, helpless, incapable of saving ourselves, no matter how much we may protest otherwise. As with physical toddlerhood, our spiritual toddlerhood is not something we are able to outgrow on our own. Apart from the Father, we would wither, and our cries would go unheeded.

Instead, we are cared for by the Father whose constancy infinitely surpasses my own, or that of any other earthly father; the Father who paradoxically became a baby, weak and helpless, so that He could die for our sins; the Father who sanctifies us, not only for a few short decades, but eternally.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Bread of Life

by Jan Lovegren

John 6:35   “’Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

How wonderful loaves of bread can look and taste when a person is hungry!

We recently took two of our grand-kids to Disneyland. It is a fun and an exhausting place. What a relief it was to sit and eat a whole grain bagel with cream cheese for lunch. It made it possible to get through what was left of the day with a bounce in our step. But then, by the time evening came, we needed that bread again.

Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. He is not talking about sustaining just the physical body; He is referring to giving His body to us as bread for eternal life.

How can we eat his body as bread? He says that to those who believe in Him that they will never go hungry for He is the source of lasting life.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years eating manna, the bread from heaven, the perfect health food, and yet they died. John tells us, (6:33) “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” and (6:29) “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

We must come to the beautiful bread that gives a life that never ends. Jesus fills our eternal soul. Earthly bread is a glimpse of the goodness of the bread of life which satisfies forever.

Think about Jesus, our bread of life in this song:

You are beautiful beyond description, 
Too marvelous for words, 
Too wonderful for comprehension, 
Like nothing ever seen or heard. 
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom? 
Who can fathom the depth of your love? 
You are beautiful beyond description, 
Majesty enthroned above.

You are beautiful beyond description, 
Yet God crushed You for my sin, 
In agony and deep affliction, 
Cut off that I might enter in. 
Who can grasp such tender compassion? 
Who can fathom this mercy so free? 
You are beautiful beyond description, 
Lamb of God, Who died for me.

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due

I stand in awe of You
– Mark Altrogge

Considering the Names of Jesus: Chief Cornerstone

Every Sunday for many years we sang the following song and chorus as an opening song at church.

This is the day, this is the day.
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.
And be glad in it, and be glad in it, 
This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day, this is the day,
That the Lord has made!

As often as we sang this song we only related it to the “Day” Sunday . Boy did we ever miss the full importance of this “Day” that was being referred to. Psalm 118:19-24 gives us the fuller context. “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” {That gate is the way Christ opened to us, His redeemed, by His atoning sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection}.” I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. THE STONE THAT THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CORNERSTONE.  This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE; LET IS REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.”

This is the Day of Lent when our Savior died and opened the way,the gates as it were, to God. Full Salvation was procured on that “DAY” So as we sing let us always remember. This was that Day. 

The low and insignificant despite having been rejected, is exalted to the Chief place. Jesus applies this passage to Himself. Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “ have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and is marvelous in our eyes”? see also Mark 12:10. Luke 20:17. Peter expands on this in Acts 4:10-12 “ let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead,——.  THIS IS THE STONE THAT WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. NOR IS SALVATION FOUND IN ANY OTHER, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED. 

Now we are part of that building. Ephesians 2:20-22 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also being built together for a dwelling  place of God in the Spirit. Even now.

Have a blessed Easter. From a friend of the Chapel.

Considering the Names of Jesus: Friend

By Danyale Tamminga

There are many words and phrases in the Bible that give us some understanding of who Jesus is. These Lenten reflections of the past couple weeks have been helping us to see that again. I am glad one of those phrases is: Friend.

Friendship is a special and rare thing, no doubt about it, even if Facebook tells me I have 758 friends (Which it hasn’t. Because FB and I haven’t friended each other yet). Different people dot my memory as I think back over, “Who are my friends? Who have been my friends?” There’s my kindergarten memory of Becky with her long, brown hair. There’s Emily Furlong in middle school, with her wit: “I’m ‘Em’ for short and ‘Emily’ FUR-LONG.” And Hollie, in high school, who was my U/B/F/F. I like thinking about these earlier friendships, but I wonder what was it that drew us to each other?

And what of our friendship with Jesus? I think about Christ inviting us to Life in Him. Do you remember the hymn we sing in church sometimes: “I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me; it was not I that found, O Savior true; no, I was found of thee?” We were found by Christ and invited to be (among other things) his friends. It is a privilege to be Christ’s friend. There was nothing in us, our hearts all corrupted by sin, that would have moved us toward Jesus. It was all Him, this friendship that is now ours.

There is another sweet song in our hymnal. The first part of the last verse goes:

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend! So kind and true and tender,so wise a Counselor and guide, so mighty a defender.”

Having become our friend, through his death and resurrection, what a friend He is. Who wouldn’t want, as the line of this hymn suggests, a friend who is kind, true, tender and wise? Or a friend who is a mighty defender? (Who, by the way, wouldn’t want to be that sort of friend?) Jesus is that kind of friend to us. The best.

Not so long ago, an older church friend said to me, “Growing old isn’t for the faint of heart.” Nor is the Christian life. It is a hard life (think of our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world being persecuted for their friendship with Christ), but we have been given something as we slog and keep fighting: a best friend who is with us and for us. The best. Or in secret friendship language: a U/B/F/F (ultimate best friend forever).