Thou Shalt Call His Name…
Woodlawn Baptist Church
December 25, 2005
It is with great joy that we gather this morning on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. While multitudes of people today will meet with friends and family to open presents and spend time together, none can celebrate the day as we who know the Lord can celebrate it! A child was born that day long ago who would forever change the course of history. Satan opposed it, the world denies it, but today we celebrate it!
For the last several weeks we’ve been working through the first two chapters of Luke, studying the birth of Christ and witnessing the amazingly wonderful hand of God at work in the world bringing us salvation. Throughout these chapters we’ve been introduced to several characters: Gabriel, Zacharias and Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph, and Simeon and Anna. But the most important character we met has of course been the babe that was born in Bethlehem. What is His name? In these two chapters I have counted ten different names or titles by which He was identified. I have chosen some of these names I want you to see this morning with the hope that by the time we leave you don’t just know the names, but that you will also know the man with the names, and knowing Him, that you will leave this place worshipping and exalting Him for His love for you and work in your life.
There is something very special about names. People have been known to give their children some very peculiar names. Many parents are wise and prudent and often spend many hours to insure their child receives a proper name reflecting his heritage. Some parents lack that wisdom and prudence and give names that end up being an embarrassment or handicap to him. Remember the Boy Named Sue?
Names are important. Solomon said, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Of course, he is speaking of the good name one might earn or the reputation one might lose. But people do not always live up to the expectations of a good name. As Christians we don’t always live up to our name, but we ought never to forget that to be called a Christian means that we follow and live by the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The infant who was born all those years ago would grow into the most polarizing figure in human history! His birth would threaten the king of His day. His miracles would astound the crowds. His ministry would attract thousands of curiosity seekers as well as seekers of truth! His teachings would challenge the establishment, but would endure for eternity. His call to discipleship would promise nothing but persecution and harsh times yet would attract millions over the centuries. His critics would blast him for his unorthodox ministry, and eventually take him to the cross for his execution! His claim to deity would confound many, yet would be unmistakable when the tomb was found empty! And His followers would spread their new religion all over the known world within a generation! To say that the babe born 2,000 years ago was special is an understatement. So who was He?
The angel said to Mary in Luke 1:31,
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
The moment Mary heard this she would have known that her son was destined to be the Savior. The name Jesus comes from the Old Testament name Joshua and it means Jehovah is salvation, or Jehovah is the Savior. The name Jesus was a common Jewish name, but this was no common Jew. When the angel met with Joseph, he said to him in Matthew 1:21,
“And [Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
You see, the name JESUS is a profound theological statement: It is God’s promise to save! The angel was telling Joseph and Mary that this child is God’s promise to save mankind from their sins! His name is God’s promise to us of deliverance! Peter testified before the religious rulers,
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, where by we must be saved.”
Son of the Highest
Luke 1:32 says,
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” He is the Son of the Highest, the Most High God: the name used throughout the Old Testament for God. It was the Most High God who allotted land to the nations. It was the Most High God who delivered in times of need. In Psalm 97:9 David wrote, “For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.” The Lord Himself said through Isaiah, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me…” It is that High and Mighty and Holy God that Gabriel had in mind when he told Mary that her son would be called the Son of the Highest.
It signified great power and authority. Jesus met a possessed man at a place called the Gadarenes. The Bible says that he lived in the tombs, and no man could bind him because he would just break the chains. Night and day he went into the mountains and in the tombs weeping and mutilating himself. When Jesus spoke to the man, the demon inside him said to Jesus,
“What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I plead with thee by God, that thou torment me not.”
Even the demons recognize the great power and authority of Jesus as the Son of the Highest. Do you? Some of you say that you know God; you know Jesus, but even Satan knows Him. The question is whether you have ever recognized his authority over your life, repented of your sins and trusted Him.
Not only is Jesus the Son of the Highest, Luke 1:76 says He is the Highest. He is truly very God and man. He is the complete embodiment of the Godhead. He deserves all the honor and glory. He is everything. In Him we are to live and breathe and have our very being. He is the only way, truth and life. His name is the only source of salvation. It is His mighty name that will eventually bring every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that He is the Lord of this universe.
Jesus knew the thoughts of those who surrounded Him. His omnipotence was kept on display as He fed the multitudes with a sack lunch. He healed the blind, made the lame to walk, and a mere touch of His robe healed a woman’s hemorrhaging. He walked on water, calmed the stormy sea and even raised the dead to life. But listen, it was His own death, burial and resurrection that proved Him to be the Highest. Anyone can claim to be God. Many have claimed to be the Savior, but there’s only one who has gone to the grave of His own accord and then in His own power and might raised Himself from the grave! He is the Highest, the Mighty God!
Dayspring from on High
Zacharias said in Luke 1:78 that the “dayspring from on high has visited us.” The word Dayspring is a word that means “sunrise; the rising of the sun, daylight or dawn.” The word brings to mind new beginnings, a new day, a fresh start. That’s what Jesus brought with Him – a new day, a new beginning, the dawn of something great.
Jesus was and is the hope of mankind. He is the Light of this world – the Dayspring – the Sunrise from on high. John 1:5-9 says,
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
You can celebrate Jesus today because He is the Dayspring – We’ve all heard the song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray.” It’s a shame that the mustard company got to those words before the Lord’s people did because they could never be truer than when they are spoken of Jesus, our Sunrise from on High.
The angels told the shepherds in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior…” The Lord, Yahweh, saves. Today being Christmas, maybe you want to be saved from having to go back to work or having to eat leftover turkey. Maybe you need saving from your credit cards now that you’ve bought all the presents and those after Christmas sales are going to start up.
If you’re like the man Brother George told me about you’re going to need saving. The man and his wife were looking at new cars. He wanted a truck, she wanted a sports car. The wife said, “I want something that goes from 0 to 200 in just a few seconds. Nothing else will do. Christmas is coming up so surprise me!” The man did just that. He bought her a brand new bathroom scale, and nobody has seen or heard from him since.
But seriously, there is a terrible drudgery of life and a purposelessness that man needs to be saved from. Some need to be saved from their addictions, from bad relationships, from hopelessness, from their fears and worry and anxieties. Jesus will certainly save you from all these things and more, but His primary concern is to save you from your lost condition and free you to a relationship with God the Father.
We have a multitude of wrong expectations of Jesus and we have the amazing ability to not see how desperately we need a Savior. The Bible teaches us that we were created for the glory of God. Our lives: our speech, our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions are to glorify God, but we cannot glorify God the way God intended for us to do because “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Now, I didn’t choose to become a sinner, I was born with a sin nature, and because of my sin nature I sin. Why do I lie or steal or curse? Because I am a sinner. Now, as we grow not only do we mature, but we learn how to be masters at our sins and we even grow to the place where we will actually deny being sinners. Have you ever caught your child in a lie: you know they lied, there is no question about it, but when they are confronted about it will continue to deny any wrongdoing? We do the same thing with God, but listen, the Word of God testifies against us that we are sinners, and no matter how much we deny it we are confronted daily with the fact of our sin.
Now, “the wages of sin is death” we are told in the Scriptures. Death is the penalty of my sin, but physical death is the least of my problems. Death means separation. Because of sin man is separated from the God he was created to glorify. How do you glorify God? You do it through a relationship with Him, but you can’t have a relationship with Him because your sin keeps you at a distance from Him.
Our sin will never let us enter the presence of God. But God, who is rich in mercy sent us a Savior to pay the penalty for our sin that we might have a relationship with God. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God’s justice demanded a payment for sin, a payment you could not make, so Jesus made it for you.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5 that we are to be reconciled to God. “For God has made Jesus, who knew no sin to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Let me put it this way: God will only accept you into His presence when you are perfectly righteous. But you can’t be perfectly righteous because of your sin, so Jesus was righteous for you. He lived for you and died for you as the payment for your sin. Because God’s justice has been satisfied, He will give Jesus’ righteousness to you so you can enter His presence, but there is a condition.
The condition is that you must admit to Him that because of your sin you need His righteousness. It is called repentance, asking for forgiveness and then trusting God to give to you what you could never get on your own – the righteousness you need to have a relationship with Him. Then and only then can you begin to live for the glory of God. That’s why we needed a Savior!
Jesus Christ is the only Savior. He is the Savior of Israel, of the Gentiles, of the church, of many of you, and of the whole world. I’ve told you before that every human being in hell is there with a Savior that they refused to accept. You’d be heartbroken today if you bought a gift for someone you loved and they rejected your gift. God is no different.
In Luke 2:11, the angels went on to say that Jesus is Christ the Lord. In verse 26 Simeon praised God because he had lived to see the Lord’s Christ. The word Christ means anointed; God’s chosen One. It is the word from which we get Messiah.
The question was once asked, “What if all the real Christians in the world would just cut themselves off from the world for twenty-four hours and study the marvelous story of Jesus and His love?” It is said that Handel did this in writing the “Messiah.” His friends and contemporaries testified that he was never the same again. Afterwards, when he spoke of His Savior and his experience, tears would stream down his face. He never wrote secular music again. As he finished the lines of his famous "Hallelujah Chorus," he cried, “I think I did see all of heaven before me and the great God Himself.” The name of Jesus meant something very special to him.
What does it mean to you? Jesus, Lord, Son of God, Son of the Highest, Christ the Savior. Have you ever trusted Him as your personal Savior or is this name just a name? Have you ever given your life to Him? If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. Do not wait to get your life all cleaned up – you never will. Don’t wait until you have all the answers, they’ll never come. If you have an awareness today that without Christ you’d die and go to hell and that because of your sins Jesus died for you, then you know enough to know that you need to repent of your sin and trust Christ to save you.
That the names of our Savior are all wonderful, there can be no doubt. And is there any wonder that such a wonderful Savior deserves such wonderful names? Let us give Him the glory that is due His name. Today I want to invite you to praise Him for His goodness, to exalt Him for His worth. I love the way kids open presents on Christmas morning. They run with excitement to the package, tear it open and then comes the exclamation. “Wow!” “All right!” “Man – that’s just what I wanted!” Can we not do that with the Lord today?