Well I had promised to do some more study here for my exam on Mark, but a few things have been drawing me away. Let me share some things from the last few days: We hosted the first night of the Parenting Teenagers Course at our church, I prepared to run a session on one-to-one Bible reading for women at a retreat (and then did so), I found out I had upset a lovely long-term friend (sorry!), managed to put out my lower back (I am walking around like a fragile old woman), then hosted a staff meeting and dinner at my house. Most of that happened yesterday! Today I have led music at church and felt ‘obliged’ to go see Iron Man 3 with my teenagers and husband. (This last one was no huge sacrifice, but it did take a few hours. Fun film!)
So now it is time to stop and think clearly for a few moments in the midst of this whirlwind, about the way Christ referred to himself, the titles of Christ as recorded in Mark’s Gospel. These titles reveal so much of God’s great plan to rescue a people for His own Kingdom purposes, a people who would come to resemble the beautiful King who saved them!
“How do the titles of Christ reveal who Jesus is?”
Messiah is the Hebrew term, Christos the Greek, for the title which tells us that Jesus is God’s anointed and promised King. He fulfills the promise to King David of a descendent who would reign on his throne forever! (2 Samuel 7). Jesus, God’s Son, became the Son of God (a Messianic title which also applied to the OT Kings of Israel). The Son of God would be the one to subdue the nations and be the means of reconciliation between God and man. “Kiss the Son” is the instruction of Psalm 2, meaning we must bow to or align ourself with him. We must trust in Him: “blessed are all who take refuge in Him”. Jesus’ divinity (meaning He IS God!) was made apparent by the authority he displayed over sickness, nature, death, evil spirits and most importantly sin – God alone could forgive (Mark 2 – the Man on the Mat!). Jesus is the One who clearly fulfilled the words of Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:5-6). Several times in Mark, in the voice from heaven (at the baptism and the transfiguration) and the voice of demons, God revealed that Jesus was indeed His Son. Peter, Blind Bartemeus and the Roman centurion (who saw Christ crucified) all conclude “You are the Christ”, Son of David, Son of God.
Son of Man
Another significant title is this one, Son of Man, which Jesus often used in referring to Himself, and what He had come to do. While this may seem to be a puzzling title, since the man Joseph was definitely not his biological father, Jesus used it to show how he fulfilled the promises which came through Daniel. Daniel 7 speaks of one like a Son of Man who will be victorious over evil, who receives the Kingdom in the new age, and shares it with the saints (all believers). He is the servant of the Lord who delivers God’s people through a resurrection (Daniel 12). This Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:8-12), and he will preside over the great Sabbath rest at the end of time (Mark 2:27-28). The Son of Man is the true descendent of Adam, representative of God the Creator, who will rule over creation within God’s total and sovereign rule.
In Mark 14:61-63 Jesus draws these two titles together, and admits who He is, as he stands before the Sanhedrin under arrest. Jesus says He is “I AM”, both the divine Son of God, Son of the Blessed One, and the Son of Man who will receive the Kingdom with power!
The final title is that of Suffering Servant, promised through the prophet Isaiah many centuries before. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Son of Man will serve us by suffering, in our place. He takes the punishment for sin, our sin, which was death. Isaiah 53 provides the clearest picture of what the suffering Servant would do: the righteous servant would justify many, giving his life as a ransom. Fulfilling Isaiah’s words perfectly, Christ was crushed for our iniquities, pierced for our trangressions. The punishment that brought us peace was laid on him. Silently as a lamb he was led to the slaughter, the Perfect Lamb of God, the sacrifice that perfectly fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and brought a way for our forgiveness. Psalms 22 and 69 also foreshadow the way Christ (in fact God himself) entered into our suffering, forsaken to death for US!
And strangely, apart from all that I can learn about the titles of Christ, there is a great comfort in knowing that Jesus is not some modern, man made or religious idea, but the great God-man who fulfills the purposes of our creator, and He draws us to himself through Jesus. The name of Jesus is indeed a refuge (as Chris Tomlin has sung, below). Theology brings us comfort and assurance of all that we hope for in faith.
And just if you are interested to keep reading:
Yehoshua means ‘the Lord saves’, and is translated into English as Joshua.
Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua, which is a shortened version of Yehoshua. Yeshua means ‘he will save’, and is translated into English as Joshua.
Yeshua translated into Greek is Iesous.
Iesous transliterated into Latin is Jesu.
Jesu became Jesus in English.
Jesus’ name is actually “Joshua”.
Click here to read part 3:
Some unusual thoughts on Parables and Miracles