In this Clip, I would like to look at the heart of Christianity and the center of all the Church’s teaching: the Person of Jesus Christ. The transmission of Christianity consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ, the “Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16) so that others can come to faith in him and discover the Good News.
Ultimately, the good news for humanity is that Jesus of Nazareth who lived in the time of King Herod and the Emperor Caesar Augustus and who was crucified under Pontius Pilate is the eternal Son of God made man, who after his death, rose from the dead. This is good news for humanity because it means that in the very person of Jesus Christ, God has fulfilled and even far suppressed all the promises he made to his people in the Old Testament. In sending us his Son, God has made it possible for humanity not only to be restored to friendship with him, but to be his adopted children in Christ. St. Paul said, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son… so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
But let’s look more deeply into the mystery of Jesus. In the Apostles’ Creed, after the articles especially relating to God the Father, Christians profess belief “in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord.” These four names and titles in the creed tell us much about who this person is, so I would like to look at each of them, beginning with the name Jesus. This is the name the archangel Gabriel gave at the Annunciation. The word Jesus literally means “God saves.” Thus, this name expresses both his identity and his mission. In his very person he is God’s salvation and he is the one who “will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
Further, the salvation which Jesus is and brings is singular and unique, meaning he is the only savior because, as we hear in the Acts of the Apostles, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The word Christ, which comes from Greek, as well as the word Messiah, which comes from Hebrew, both mean “anointed one.” In the Old Testament those who were given a divine mission were anointed with oil and consecrated in God’s name. Moreover, the people of Israel greatly awaited a kingly Messiah, an anointed one whose divine mission would be to liberate God’s chosen people. Jesus of Nazareth is this Messiah or Christ whom the Father sent to redeem the world and who was anointed, “with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). Indeed, Jesus accepted this messianic title when Peter said “you are the Christ” (Mk 8:29), yet he also had to make its proper meaning clear. And so, right after Peter’s profession of faith Jesus said of himself that he “must suffer many things… and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk 8:31). This means that the kingly messiah whom Israel anticipated is also the suffering servant that Isaiah foretold who “gives his life as an offering for sin” (Is 53:10). It is from the title Christ that our name Christian comes since Christians are followers of Christ.
In the history of the old covenant, the name ‘Son of God’ could be applied to angels and kings, as well as the people of Israel as a whole. The term referred to an adoptive sonship that brought a person into an intimate relationship with God. Jesus, however, is the Son of God in an entirely unique and perfect way; his sonship is not one of adoption because he is eternally begotten by God. Indeed, he is the second person of the Blessed Trinity. We see God the Father’s affirmation of this both during Jesus’ baptism and his transfiguration when the Father says “this is my beloved son” (Mt 3:17; Mt 17:5). Jesus affirmed his singular sonship when he said, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal to him” (Mt 11:27). And so, these are the reasons why Jesus is rightly called “the Only Begotten Son of God” (1 Jn 3:9).
Finally, let’s look at the meaning of the title Lord. In the Bible this title was commonly used to refer to God’s sovereignty. And since Jesus is God he also applied this title, “Lord” to himself. He showed his Divine sovereignty in his power over nature but also in his power over the evils of sin and death which were overcome by his resurrection. Therefore, Jesus is Lord in every sense of the term which is why Christians have always given him the same worship, honor, and glory due God the Father. Indeed, St. Paul said that all will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). Because Jesus is Lord of the world and of history he is the only one to whom we must completely surrender ourselves.
To summarize, Jesus Christ, in his very person, is the Good News for humanity. His name Jesus ultimately means that he is God’s salvation. Moreover, he is the long-awaited Christ and Messiah who, far more than an earthly leader, is God’s eternal and only begotten Son, which is why Jesus Christ is Lord.
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