“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
᛭ INI ᛭
You’re not saved because of who are. You’re not saved because of what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done. You’re not unsaved because of who you are. You’re not unsaved because of what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done. Salvation doesn’t rest in you—redemption doesn’t, the forgiveness of sins doesn’t.
It all rests on Jesus—salvation, redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Now, it does rest in what He does and doesn’t do. But your salvation in Jesus runs much deeper than just what Jesus does. Everything He does is integral to your salvation. Without His suffering, death, and resurrection there would be no redemption, no salvation, no forgiveness of sins, no pardon, no innocence before God. And yet, the meaning of those things doesn’t rest in how well Jesus did them. It’s not a matter of their perfection or their sufficiency, though “His blood” is “holy” and “precious,” His “suffering and death” “innocent.”
You’re saved not because of you or your deeds—good or bad. You’re saved by Jesus’ deeds. You’re saved by them because He did them. That’s because what Jesus did is only salvific because of who Jesus is, and so this means that
YOU’RE SAVED BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE IS.
((I. You’re saved because Jesus is true God.))
So, if YOU’RE SAVED BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE IS, well, then who is He? Well, first, He’s true God. Jesus is really God. God God. Eternal God. Everlasting God. Creator of the Universe God. Always existed God. Never a time when He wasn’t God. Never a point when He was not. “Very God of God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.” He’s not the Father, not the Spirit either. Nevertheless, He’s true and eternal God.
That’s what’s hinted at in Isaiah 11: “a branch from Jesse’s roots shall bear fruit.” The roots of Jesse are ultimately God Himself, as Luke confesses in his lineage of Jesus that he records in Luke 3. Micah also says it: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2)
But this is what Paul is talking about in Colossians. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” By Jesus “all things were created.” Jesus “is before all things.” In Jesus “all things hold together.” In Jesus “the fullness of the God was pleased to dwell bodily.”
This is at the heart of our salvation: that Jesus is really God. YOU’RE SAVED BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE IS. Because, as our Psalm put it, only God “has clean hands and a pure heart.” For “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” Well, “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory?” “The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” (Ps 24)
Jesus suffers in our place, “making peace by the blood of His cross.” He suffers our punishment. That’s Jesus’ passive obedience. It pleased God the Father, through Jesus “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” God, the Son of God, shed His blood for you. God’s blood. God’s death. The payment. This is how you “have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
((II. You’re saved because Jesus is true man.))
Jesus isn’t just true God. He’s also true man. He’s a real human being. Human like you and I are. Just like you and me, in every way, body and soul. That’s Jesus. AND YOU’RE SAVED BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE IS.
That’s what we were told in our readings this evening. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,” Isaiah says. And that’s what’s laid out for us in our Matthew reading. Jesus came from somewhere. He had a lineage, a family tree. In Matthew’s summary: “all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” That was Jesus’ family tree.
Jesus comes “in the fulness of time,” right place, right time, born of Mary. He enters into a sinful world and into a sinful church. He comes from sinful stock, though He Himself is without sin. Jesus was descended from Perez, and “Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar,” his daughter-in-law. Jesus is from Boaz, whose mother was Rahab the prostitute. Finally, Jesus was “of the house and lineage of David,” and that means He was also from Solomon. “And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” Not exactly stellar…
But this is why He comes. He comes “to save His people from their sins.” Not just the little ones—big ones, scandalous ones, too. He not only suffers the consequence of our sins, like I mentioned before, but He lives as His people never could. He saves the Judahs, the Rahabs, the Davids, you and me, too, by His active obedience. He cherishes the Law and does it—heart, soul, mind, and strength—in your place. He was “born under the Law to redeem those who are under the Law,” as Paul says.
Jesus saves us from our sin. He takes on a human nature, human flesh and blood, human body and soul, “for surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect…” (Heb 2:16–17) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15)
If He saved the likes Judah and Tamar, Rahab, David and Bathsheba from their sins, He saves you, too. All their sins and yours are His. He claims your sinful lineage as His own, that you would share in His Sonship. “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
YOU’RE SAVED BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE IS.
He’s true God. Really God. 100%. He’s true man. Really a human being. 100%. Both at the same time. This Jesus saves you. He actively and passively saves you. He lives perfectly in your place, suffers in your place.
You’re not saved because of who are. You’re not saved because of what you’ve done, or what you haven’t don’t. You’re not unsaved because of who you are. You’re not unsaved because of what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done. Salvation doesn’t rest in you—redemption doesn’t, the forgiveness of sins doesn’t.
It all rests on Jesus—salvation, redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Everything He does counts for you not because of the way Jesus did it. Perfectly, sufficiently, completely—even though that’s true. It all counts because of who Jesus is.