He was Called Jesus (Part One)

Baptism of Jesus

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus means “God saves”. Jesus was not the first person in the Bible to have that name.  Joshua is spelled the same way in Hebrew.  Joshua’s story is very interesting when compared to Jesus’ life.

Joshua was a loyal aide to Moses. He was sent to reconnoiter the Promised Land with eleven other scouts. Only he and Caleb had the necessary faith in God to encourage the people to enter the Promised Land.  The other ten spies filled the Israelites with fear and doubt about God’s intentions toward them.  As a result, the people refused to enter the Promised Land. So, they were sentenced to 40 years of wandering in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their faith.

Moses was also barred from entering the Promised Land because of a small sin that is debated as to what it was exactly.  The underlying reason I believe is that Moses represented the Law and the Old Covenant.  Following it would not be sufficient for entering the Promised Land of heaven.  For entering the physical land the people needed Joshua; for entering the True Promised Land of Heaven we need Jesus.

When it came time for the people to enter the Promised Land, Joshua had the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant into the waters of the Jordan.  When they did this the waters stopped and were backed up as far as the town of Adam.  The people crossed over on dry land just like at the Red Sea.

Centuries later, Jesus stood in that same place with John the Baptist.  John was a direct descendant of Aaron the High Priest.  John baptized Jesus in these same waters and the heavens (the Promised Land) opened. The effect of Christ’s sacrifice had an impact all the way back to Adam, the first sinner.

In Joshua’s day, all of the Israelites had to pass through the Jordan to reach the Promised Land.  Christians enter Heaven through the waters of Baptism.

#trcot #tcot #Jesus #Joshua #Baptism

Referenced Scriptures: Luke2:21, Numbers 13-14, Joshua 3, Luke 3:21-22

Zechariah — the Priestly Prophet

Jerusalem - birth of st. John the Baptist scene on windowpane in st. George a church

There was a period of prophetic silence in Israel. The major prophets had come before the Exile and some of the minor prophets came soon after the exile. Israel was crumbling. It was an occupied territory, but the prophets were as silent as Zechariah.

During Zechariah’s silence, he had time to ponder Gabriel’s message to him, his doubt and his own son’s destiny.  Then he witnessed but could not comment upon the wonder of the Visitation.  He pondered the meaning of Mary’s pregnancy.  When the time came for him to confirm Gabriel’s message by affirming that the child’s name was John, it was like a dam broke and the words bottled up inside him spewed forth.

His prophecy is believed to be in two parts. The first was directed at Mary, who had surely stayed for the birth, and Jesus within her womb. Picture him looking at her almost trembling as he says,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people,

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;

to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we,

being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,

in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.

Zechariah was excited he knew that the promised Messiah was here within that womb.  The ages of waiting for the promised one was over.  Israel wasn’t forgotten in its misery.  Then Zechariah looked down at the child in his arms.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,

through the tender mercy of our God,

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in

darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In the tradition of Samuel and Jeremiah, Israel had a priestly-prophet again. You may think that Zechariah was given the gift of prophecy because he was a godly man, but there was another priest-prophet who was anything but godly.  John tells us that prophecy was given him because he was the high priest.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”  He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

God worked through his priests even the ones who were out to destroy Jesus to accomplish the plan of salvation. These men chose of their own free will to do evil, but God used their choices to accomplish His good.

 

Referenced scriptures: Luke 1:67-79, John 11:49-52

#trcot #tcot #Zechariah #John the Baptist

 

 

His Name is John

Baptism of Jesus

Names were very important in the Bible and the one who did the naming had authority over the one that was named.  To know somebody’s name was to have a claim over them. Joseph was renamed when he became the Pharaoh’s right hand man.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mischael, and Azariah were all renamed by King Nebuchadnezzar.

In the Old Testament, you see God renaming Abram and Sarai, as well as Jacob.  This was God’s way of claiming special authority and ownership of these people.  Indeed, they were the patriarchs of the Jewish people. A comparable event took place when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter.

For a long time Abraham’s descendants had  no name for God. God first identified Himself to Moses as “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” which is not really a name rather an identifier.  Moses does a very bold thing, He asks God to reveal His name that Moses might tell the Israelites. God tells Moses that it is “Yahweh” which means “I am who am”.

Many Jews will not speak or write the name of God because it is too holy, too sacred. They will use terms like Adonai which means “the Lord”.  There is a whole commandment devoted God’s name.  You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold guiltless who takes his name in vain. To know and to speak God’s name was to have a claim on Him.

When the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah, he told him to call the child John.  God claimed special ownership over this child before he was even conceived.  Zechariah had doubted God and was struck dumb. When Elizabeth said that the child’s name would be John it caused great consternation among the people gathered. It wasn’t a family name. Could his father be in agreement?  So they went to Zechariah who had the authority to name this child. When Zechariah wrote “His name is John”, he was acknowledging the authority of God over this child. It was his way of expressing his belief in everything that Gabriel had said about what he would do.  It was like an “amen” if you will.  Immediately, he was able to speak.

An angel also came to Joseph in a dream telling him to name the child Jesus. This had a twofold meaning.  Heaven was acknowledging Joseph’s authority by giving to him the name by which he was to be called. Heaven was also claiming ownership over this child.

These events compare to when a Roman soldier said, “This truly was the Son of God.”  The Romans thought that they had dominion over Jesus and that they could do with Him what they willed.  But when Jesus died the curtain in the temple was torn in two from the TOP to the bottom, the earth quaked, the sun failed, and people rose from their tombs and walked about.  The Romans never had ownership over Him.  Jesus had called God His Father, and it was now clear to the soldier that He was God’s son.

Referenced scriptures  Genesis 41:37-46, Daniel 1, Genesis 17, Genesis 32:28, Matt. 16:18, Exodus 3, Exodus 20:7, Luke 1, Matthew 1:21, Matthew27:51-54

 

Why was the Greatest Man of Woman Born Jesus’ precursor instead of His successor?

Baptism of Jesus

Except for Jesus, John the Baptist was the best man ever born.  He was better than Moses, King David, and Elijah. While he was still in the womb, he leapt with joy at the presence of God.  That leaping has often been compared with David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant when it returned to Jerusalem.

He fearlessly called rulers and sinners to repentance like Elijah. The Jews awaited his return because he was to prepare the way for the Messiah.  Gabriel prophesied that John would come in the power and  spirit of Elijah.

Despite all of the greatness, he was a truly humble man like Moses.  He was not jealous of Jesus at all.  He proclaimed that he was not worthy of carrying Jesus’ sandals. He viewed his job as that of the best man to prepare for the bridegroom and then fade into the background.  He rejoiced at his own diminishment.

If you want to understand the purpose of the Old Testament and the Law look to John the Baptist.  It was there to convict the people of sin and bring them to repentance, to prepare the people for the bridegroom’s coming, and to point out Christ when He came. What it couldn’t be was the bridegroom.  It couldn’t bring us into unity with God, only God could do that.

I could prepare a wonderful dinner for the Pope, but I can’t make him enter my house.  Only the Pope could do that.  The Old Testament was the best man preparing us for Jesus.  Once the bride and groom are married there is not further need of the best man.

Jesus did not choose John to succeed him.  The New Testament is based on mercy.  Jesus choose Peter who once gave Jesus advice so bad, Jesus rebuked him as a Satan.  Peter lost faith when he was walking on the waves and denied Jesus three times.

From a human standpoint we would feel more comfortable following a John than a Peter, but we are New Testament people!  We are not clothed in our good deeds, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  It is not what we do for God, but what He is able to do through us.  To God be the glory!  If you are a weak, flawed individual, are we the church for you.  For when we are weak that is when God is strong.

Jesus loved John the Baptist.  Jesus said to call no man good, for only God in heaven is good, but He praised John in this manner.

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Man’s greatest righteousness is nothing compared to the righteousness of God that clothes even the least of believers.  The Old Testament called us to righteousness. The New Testament empowers us to be so.

#John the Baptist #Peter #righteousness of God #righteousness of man #Law #Mercy #trcot #tcot #purpose of the Law