᛭ INI ᛭
Who’s Jesus? This is actually the most important question we can think about as Christians. This is the perfect time for us to consider this question. It’s the perfect time because we’re gearing up for Christmas.
I get that it’s Advent. Advent focuses us on Christ’s coming. Now, that includes His Second Coming. It also includes His coming now. But it does include His first coming. There’s a reason Advent comes before Christmas.
Christmas gives us the opportunity to consider that question. “Who’s Jesus?” Because it’s about this time we get to maybe a popular phrase for many Christians: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” There’s a corresponding phrase: “You’re the reason for the season.”
Now, there are merits to both those phrases, but they’re too simple. They don’t get to the core question: “Who’s Jesus?” The reality is a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, or even an atheist could all defend “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Even though all three of them would have radically incorrect answers to the question: “Who’s Jesus?”
So, who’s Jesus? Well, the answer to that is summarized for us in the Second Article that we just read a little bit ago. The explanation of the Second Article summarizes what the Bible says about who Jesus is. But there’s an even simpler summary in the Christian Questions with Their Answers: “Who is Christ? The Son of God, true God and man.”
The Christ is the promised offspring of David. Christ is the promised King. Christ is the Lord’s Anointed. Christ means anointed. Jesus is the One promised to David in 2 Samuel 7. Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the true “oil of gladness,” as our antiphon put it, that Jesus has received more than all others. Jesus says that He has the Spirit without measure. (Jn 3) Jesus is Christ, and that also means that He is the Son of God. That’s what Psalm 2 tells us. But that’s what Matthew also tells us.
Matthew’s subtle about it. It’s the last verse of our reading. Jesus flees with His parents to Egypt in order to escape dying at the hands of Herod. Jesus lives down in Egypt for a few years, and then returns back to Judea. “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”
Now, I say it’s subtle because when Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 here, he retranslates from the Hebrew instead of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which he uses everywhere else. The Greek translation has, “Out of Egypt I have called [Israel’s] children.” But Matthew wants to emphasize that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, and so he goes back to Hosea’s original. “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.”
Jesus is the Christ, He’s the Son of God, and that means He’s “true God and man.” Or more fully: He’s “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” Now, the importance of who Jesus is directly tied to what He’s done. “Jesus is the reason for the season” not only because of who He is but what He did.
Now, “what has Christ done for you that you trust in Him? He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.” He “purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death.” And it’s this reality why we can also rejoice to say: “You’re the reason for the season.”
This is what Paul is telling us today: “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born from a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who are under the Law, that we would receive sonship.” But it’s actually what Matthew is telling us today. “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.”
Jesus, true God and Man, goes where we need Him to go. He goes where He goes to save us. That’s not just Calvary, where He sheds His blood and gives His life to redeem us. It’s not just His tomb, from which He came out alive to destroy death and bring the gift of eternal life. It’s His entire life! When He suffered, He suffered innocently. He suffered your punishment, my punishment. He lived a perfect life.
Jesus always lived according to the Law, even though Jesus is actually above the Law. He gave the Law! As the ancient antiphon puts it: “O Adonai and ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai: Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.” But Jesus, the eternal Son of God, submits Himself to His own Law because you and I can’t. Apart from Him doing it we wouldn’t be redeemed. “We’d be lost forever.”
But Christ comes into our slavery. “The Son of Man came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” He joins us in our Egypt, our sin, our death. He claims all that’s wrong with us and our world. He claims it all as His own. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
He comes to make us sons. The eternal Son comes as servant, to make servants sons. We are sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are all sons of God through our Baptism into Christ, for there “we became heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Who’s Christ? It’s the most important question we can ask. Who is Jesus and what He does has everything to do with Christmas, with Advent, and with the entire Christian faith. He is “the Son of God, true God and man.” He redeems us from our sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, the ancient enemy and pharaoh of Christ’s people.
Who’s Christ? The magi knew. He’s “the King of the Jews.” Their King, too. King of the nations. As the Lord put it through Nathan, “I will establish the throne of His Kingdom forever.” “O King of the nations, the ruler they long for, The cornerstone uniting all people: Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.” The Magi also believed Jesus is God, “they fall down and worship Him.” They knew He was a human being, too. “They found the child and His mother.”
As we get closer and closer to Christmas, we’re happy to consider who Jesus is. We, like the magi, gather around “Him who was born King of the Jews.” That’s who He was in Bethlehem, in Egypt, on His Cross, in His tomb. That’s who He is now and forever.
Who Jesus is, is everything—He’s everything to us. “Jesus is the Son of God, true God and Man.” “O Emmanuel, Our king and our Lord, The anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.” That’s exactly who He is and what He does for us all.