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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Title:The Name of Jesus
Text:LD 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


Hy. 44:1,2

Ps. 25:2

Ps. 62:1,3,4

Hy. 1

Ps. 27:2,4

Readings: Psalm 25; 1 Timothy 1:12 - 2:6

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Why did the Lord Jesus come into the world? As Paul says in 1st Timothy 1:15, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Why did the angel tell both Joseph and Mary that the baby Mary was carrying in her womb was to be called “Jesus”? Because Jesus means “Saviour” and the task his heavenly Father gave him was to save sinners. He came to save the people of God from their sins.

He did not come to help people save themselves. He did not come to provide a good example that people must follow to make themselves worthy before God for salvation. He came to save people from their sins; from the guilt of sin, the slavery of sin, the punishment of sin; from the wrath of God against sin, from everlasting death, which is the just wages of sin.

And in coming to save us from our sins, he gives us righteousness, freedom, and blessedness. He shows us the love of God. He gives us eternal life.

The Lord Jesus saves us from the greatest evil there is–our own sin and all of its horrible consequences. He gives us as the free gift of God, the most wonderful gift there is–righteousness in his name and all of its blessed consequences.

This afternoon I proclaim to you the Name of Jesus.

Jesus is our only and our complete Saviour who Saves us from our sins

1. The Lord Jesus is our Saviour; 2. He is our only Saviour; 3. He is our complete Saviour.

1. The first question is: Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, Saviour? For that is what “Jesus” means. The name “Jesus” means, “Saviour”, or, “The LORD (Yahweh) is Salvation”. The LORD God told both Mary and Joseph that they were to name the child Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. God revealed his name. Because it was God who revealed his name and because it was God who sent him for a specific purpose, we can be assured that there is no conflict between his name and his mission. Among people we often find a conflict between a person’s name and how that person acts. Just one example: “Judas.” It is a beautiful name! Judas means: “One who praises the LORD.”

The meaning of the name of Judas is beautiful, but which parents would call their child “Judas”? Of all the children you have seen baptized, have you ever seen one baptized with the name “Judas?” I doubt. It is no wonder for “Judas” has become a synonym for traitor or betrayer. Because Judas betrayed the Lord, his deeds conflicted with his name.

This is not the case with the Lord Jesus. His name means Saviour. By his deeds he does save us.

And so the catechism can give such a simple and straightforward answer to the question. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, Saviour? Because he saves us from all our sins. He’s called Jesus, that is Saviour, because he is our Saviour. So simple.

That’s the simplicity of God. The simplicity of revelation. We people have a tendency to make things so difficult and complicated. We blow simple things all out of proportion. We make mountains out of molehills. How many family feuds haven’t arisen out of small issues. People go to universities in order to get degrees in the study of human relations.

God keeps things simple. He keeps even the big things–things like salvation from sin–simple. He keeps his relationship to us very simple. He sent his Son to save us, and so his Son was to be called “Jesus.”

From what does he save us? From our sins. He came to seek those who were lost in their sins. This was the task his Father gave him to do. He never strayed away from this task. He had many opportunities. Often he was tempted by people to become something other than what his Father had sent him to be. There were those who wanted to make him a king. A king who would lead the people in revolt against Rome. There were people who saw him as a popular revolutionary who would free Israel from the yoke of oppression. Another wanted to make him a judge between himself and his brother to divide their inheritance. Others followed Jesus because of his power to heal the sick and raise the dead. But they were not that interested in repentance and forgiveness of sin.

And today, if you ask people, “What does Jesus mean to you?”, you will get many answers. Some will say that Jesus was a brilliant social reformer. Or, a revolutionary who came to overthrow the establishment and raise up the oppressed. Or a teacher of high ethical values and morals. Or a wise philosopher. Few people will say, “He is my Saviour. He saves me from my sins.” Because that means that you’ve got to admit that you are a sinner. And people don’t like to do that. Many would rather say: “I have done nothing wrong.”

The true church of Christ has always confessed Jesus as the Saviour from sin. The church has always been brought to an awareness and acknowledgment of her sins by the Word of God. The church of all ages has always been willing to confess her sins and so receive salvation from God through Jesus.

What about you? You believe that Jesus came into the world, don’t you? Why did he come? What is Jesus to you? What does he mean for you? Is he your Saviour? Does he save you from your sins? Have you confessed your sins? Have you received salvation from the one who came to save?

The catechism speaks in the present tense. It says, “Because he saves us from all our sins.” We have a tendency to push everything to the future. Also salvation. No! Salvation has to do with the here and now–today. Are you saved today? Is Jesus your Saviour today? That is the unavoidable question we all must answer. There are too many people who want to go to heaven but who are not interested in being saved today. They want to be saved in the future, but today they want to live for themselves and have fun and have a good time. As Paul says in 2nd Cor. 6:2, “Now is the day of salvation.” Right now–today. Not tomorrow. Not ten years from now. Tomorrow may well be too late. Don’t put it off. Right now is the day of salvation from sin.

Is Jesus your Saviour today? Do you, together with the church of all ages, confess the Son of God to be Jesus, that is, Saviour, that is, the one who saves you from all your sins?

The Lord Jesus saves us from all our sins. He can and he does. He has the power to do so. He had the power to free Mary Magdalene of seven evil spirits. He had the power to free a man of a Legion of evil spirits. He has the power to free us from each and every evil spirit of sin that wants to find a place to live in our lives.

While he was on earth, the Lord Jesus looked for the lost among the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, and the murderers. He was not ashamed to be called “the friend of sinners.” He himself said that he had not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners. If the heart of Jesus was big enough to forgive the sins of tax-collectors, prostitutes, and murderers, then his heart is big enough to forgive each and every sin you have ever committed.

Let go of that secret sin which you hold closely to your chest. Give up on trying to hide from the eyes of Jesus. His eyes are upon you at this moment. He sees your sins. He wants to forgive them. 1st Timothy 2:4 says that our Saviour desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Ask him for forgiveness. And his blood will wash over you and erase your sins. He will make you as if you never had sinned. His Father will look at you and see a spotless person, clothed in the righteousness of his Son.

And people who are saved from their sins are also freed from their sins. That is part of the gospel. Forgiven sinners will put off sinning more and more. As the woman caught in adultery whom Jesus refused to condemn but whom he told to go and to sin no more, so the Lord Jesus will not condemn us if we go to him. He will save us from our sins, and then tell us to go and to sin no more.

When you do fall into sin again, go again to the Lord Jesus. He will forgive you again. And he will tell you again to go and to sin no more. The patience of God is limitless. He never turns us away no matter how often we go to him in true repentance and in humility of heart asking for his free salvation from our wretched sins.

2. Jesus is the only Saviour.

The second part of answer 29 teaches us that there is no other Saviour besides Jesus where it says, “... salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else.”

There are many who do not believe this. They think that they will be saved because they live decent lives. There are those who think that cleaning up their lives a bit will make them acceptable to God. No, it won’t. Only faith in Jesus makes us acceptable to God. Only the blood of Jesus which washes over us when we flee to him makes us acceptable to God. All of your efforts, no matter how good, noble, or decent, will not help. Only the blood of Jesus will help.

Salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone but Jesus. That’s why he was called Jesus. Because he is the only Saviour.

The gospel is very exclusive. It is so exclusive that the gospel says, “Either the Lord Jesus is everything for you, or he is nothing for you.”

Too radical? Too exclusive? Well, it’s the language of Scripture. The Lord Jesus himself said, “No one comes to the Father but by me.” There is no other way. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” As the apostle Paul said in 1st Tim. 2:5, “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

He is the only mediator. Only Jesus, the only one who is both God and man, is able to reconcile us to God. There is no Saviour but Jesus. Only he can save us from all our sins. It is either Jesus, or nothing. That is how sharp the antithesis stands. Sadly, often the world understands that better than the church. I’m afraid that the world understands better than the church that you’ve got to go all the way with Jesus, or not at all. The church is, often, willing to give and take a bit. The church does not mind often limping along with two opinions. The world realizes that it cannot be done and they make a clear choice.

The world–people of the world–go to great extremes to get rid of the vestiges and symbols of Christianity still clinging here and there to our culture. They fight to get all Christian instruction out of the public schools. The Lord’s prayer has got to go. These people fight tooth and nail because they realize that instruction in the Christian faith and secular humanism are on opposite sides of the antithesis. They have nothing to do with each other. And so one of them, eventually, has to go.

The world has always realized this. Pontius Pilate realized it. And he made the choice very concrete for the church of his day. Do not let the irony escape you. Pontius Pilate, a representative of the world, presented the church with the choice: Either accept Jesus all the way, or not at all. He asked the Jews, “Whom do you want? Jesus or Barabbas? I will let only one of the two go free. Whom shall it be: Jesus or Barabbas? Make your choice!”

Do you remember Barabbas? He was in prison for a murder which he had committed in the insurrection. And so Barabbas was also a kind of saviour. He was involved in the rebellion against Rome. With a sword in his hand, he wasn’t above committing murder in his attempt to free the people of Israel from the Roman oppressor. Barabbas offered salvation, but only an earthly one. He offered welfare, but in the way of revolution.

And so the choice with which Pontius Pilate confronted the church of his day was: Jesus or Barabbas; gospel or revolution.

And that’s the choice the world places before us today. The world says to us: Come with us but leave your Christianity behind. Jesus says to us: Come away with me and leave the world behind. Let us listen to the call of the Lord Jesus.

There is no salvation to be sought or found in anyone else but Jesus. Peter, in Acts 4:12, said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We have found the only Saviour, beloved. As Philip said to Nathanael, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.”

We have found the only Saviour because God gave him to us. And now we can help others who are seeking. We can tell others who are seeking that salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else but Jesus. We can lead them to the only one who can save us from all our sins.

There will be times when God calls us to speak about salvation in the Lord Jesus. But even more importantly, we must show the world by how we live that we have found salvation in Jesus Christ. By the choices we make and the things we do and don’t do. If the world cannot see any difference in lifestyle between us and them, then they will not be interested in salvation in the name of Jesus.

We should be like those ten lepers whom Jesus healed. He said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests at the temple.” He didn’t tell them to go and call the priests to repentance and to preach the word of God to them. All he said was, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

When the priests saw these ten men who had been lepers now cleansed of their disease with baby pink skin, they would have had to be pretty dim-witted not to go and seek out this Saviour. In the same way we show ourselves to the world as those who have been cleansed from all their sins by the only Saviour Jesus Christ. We show that by how we live.

3. The Lord Jesus is our complete Saviour.

That Jesus is a complete Saviour comes through crystal clear in QA 30.

You will recognize here immediately the historical context out of which the Heidelberg Catechism arose. The church at that time taught the people to seek help from “saints”. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that teaching to this day. The Roman Catholic Church has about 2,500 official saints. Supposedly these “saints” performed many more good works than was necessary for their own salvation. This great pile of good works is the treasure of the church. And now we may tap into these to make up for ourselves. We can even ask saints to intercede for us before God. Especially Mary!

But if this is correct, then Jesus is no longer the complete Saviour. Then we need him plus something or someone else–in this case, the help of the saints. Though they boast of him in words, they in fact deny the only Saviour by their actions.

Jesus saves us completely. He alone does it. He doesn’t need any help from the saints. He doesn’t need any help from the Old Testament regulations, like the Judaizers in Galatia taught. He doesn’t need any help from us like the Remonstrants of the 1600’s taught. Jesus saves us. He saves us completely.

And therefore we must not look for our salvation or well-being from anyone or anything but Jesus. And if we do, then we deny the only Saviour Jesus even though we might be boasting of him in words.

The catechism also talks about our “well-being.” The danger is always there that we look to Jesus for a future salvation, but not for our daily welfare in the present. As we saw in Lord’s Days 9 and 10, the Father of the Lord Jesus has become our Father for the sake of Jesus. And for the sake of his one and only unique Son, the Father will now take care of us. He will give us what we need to be well, to fare well. He is concerned about our well-being, our welfare. Our food and drink, clothing and jobs–all that we need to be well comes to us from the Father for the sake of his Son. If we do not go to the Lord Jesus for our well-being, then, again, we deny the only Saviour Jesus even though we might boast of him in words.

When we talk about Jesus being a complete Saviour, then we must also remember that Jesus redeems all of life for his people. We are the redeemed community of Jesus Christ. We are his church. He shed his blood for us. If there is something that is not well in our midst, then we must go to Christ in order for it to be made well.

Earlier I said that we people have a bad habit of making mountains out of molehills. We major in minors. We do this in our marriages. We do it in our parent-child relationships. At times, as well, within the communion of saints. The Lord Jesus also shed his blood for the well-being of our marriages. We must also seek the well-being of our marriages in Christ the only Saviour who redeems life from top to bottom. And so if there is a problem in your marriage, go, together, with your problem to Jesus Christ. He will make it well.

Is there a problem in your family? Then, as a family, go to Jesus Christ who shed his blood for the well-being of your family. Christ also died for the well-being of the communion of saints. Let us open our hearts to one another–as wide as Christ did. For the sake of Christ.

Beloved, Christ is a complete Saviour. He doesn’t redeem little bits and pieces of life for us–say, just our souls, or only the future. He redeems all of life for us and does so that we may enjoy it today already. Let us live out of the fulness of his salvation. Let us look to him to make our lives well. Let us live out of that joy in our personal lives, in our family lives, and as a congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Jesus is our Saviour. He is the only Saviour. He saves us completely, forever, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2012, Rev. George van Popta

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