Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Name of Jesus.

More from the 4th chapter of the book:

As we know from the inspired Scriptures the name of "Jesus" was given to him by God.  In addition, he was revealed to be and designated as God’s Christ by his resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:3).  Because the name “Jesus Christ” is therefore divinely sanctioned, it is worthy and necessary to explain insofar as it is the task of dogmatic theology to give expression to all that the Word of God has sanctioned.  As we shall see, the name of Jesus reveals his office and person as the anointed God-man who is the redeemer of the whole creation.

In the historical accounts of the birth of Jesus that we possess from the New Testament[1] both of Jesus’ human parents are given specific instructions to name him “Jesus” (Mt 1:21, Lk 1:33).  Jesus means “God is our salvation”[2] and this fact is reinforced in St. Matthew’s account by the angel’s statement to Joseph: “. . . give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21, Emphasis added).  In the next verse, he is also called “God with us” (v. 22).  Matthew cites one of the messianic texts in Isaiah, which we examined earlier, which promises redemption through the child born of a virgin (Isa 7:14).[3]  “God with us” as we have examined in our discussion of the kavod/Angel of YHWH in the Old Testament, is highly suggestive of God’s own special presence, but also his saving presence.  His saving presence goes ahead of Israel into the land as the Angel of YHWH and conquerors (Exod 32, Josh 5).  This makes sense in the context of the Gospels, because Jesus’ proclamation is primarily of God’s kingdom and his own work in establishing it.  Much like the Angel of God’s presence, (who was the pre-incarnate Christ) who established Israel in their temporal kingdom, so Jesus will lead a new exodus and establish the Church in a heavenly kingdom (Heb 2-3).  He can do this because he is “God with us” and “God our salvation.”  The fact that “Jesus” is simply the Greek form of “Joshua”[4] also draws these connections to conquest and exodus.  As Johann Gerhard notes, Joshua is a type of Christ, who was the earthly agent of the conquest of the land of Palestine (much like the Angel of YHWH was the heavenly agent).  He thereby prefigures Christ's victory and the Church's exodus into eternal kingdom of heaven (Heb 2-3).[5]

The name “Christ” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” and means anointed one.[6]  As Gerhard notes, the “anointing” that the Christ received was prefigured by the kings and priest of the Old Testament.[7]  In that the Messiah, as we have observed in our section on the Old Testament, was to be a fulfillment of all the mediators of the Old Testament, his is alone and most truly the anointed one which they all point to.  Hence, he is often referred to as simply the “anointed one” (Ps 2:2, Isa 53:1, Dan 9:25).  Christ himself was not anointed with physical oil, but was anointed with the “oil of gladness” (take from Psalm 45:7 and applied directly to Jesus in Hebrews 1:9), that is, according to Gerhard, the Holy Spirit (which he possesses without measure (Jn 3:34) and also the fullness of divine glory which Christ possesses according to his human nature (Mt. 28:18, Col 2:3, v. 9).[8] 

This interpretation is not a kind of typological-prophetic excess on Gerhard’s part.  First, as we observed in the chapter one, the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings received an anointing with oil in order to imitation the divine kavod.  This also accounts for the high priest’s gold garb.  All of these figures as we saw represented a unity between God and Israel/humanity.  They represented the unity of God and humanity in the law and promise of the covenants.  Therefore, they all properly prefigured Christ who is the true fulfillment of God binding himself to humanity and redeeming it. 

Secondly, these two anointing are directly revealed in the Gospel record of Christ in two separate and important coronation scenes. First, at his baptism, Jesus is visibly anointed with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.  The words “you are my son” bearing much similarity to Psalm 2 (which is about the royal coronation and anointing of the David and his descendants, as it prefigures the anointing of the Messiah) are echoed in the speech. This anointing with the Holy Spirit was dramatically show at Christ’s baptism (which as we have shown in chapter two, demonstrates his office as priest and king), though this was not the first time that Christ received the Holy Spirit.  As the gospels suggest, Christ’s baptism is merely his public coronation, it does not bestow upon him what he did not previous have, anymore than a prince receives what he did not previous have by right of birth at his coronation.  As the second person of the Trinity, Christ is also a source of the Holy Spirit’s procession (Gal 4:6).  According to his humanity, Christ possessed the Holy Spirit from the moment of his conception, which occurred by power of the Spirit (Mt 1:18, Lk 1:35).  Hence the Holy Spirit anointed Christ from his conception because he is the agent and mediator of the Incarnation.  He united Christ’s divinity to his humanity and breathed divine life and enlightenment into Christ’s humanity (Isa 11:2, 61:1, Lk 4:16-21). 

Christ's second coronation in which the content of his anointing is revealed is the transfiguration (Mt 17:1-9, Mk 9:2-8, Lk 9:28-36). God repeats the sonship language of the coronation Psalm in transfiguration.  In the same event, Jesus manifests in his flesh his glory as the Son of God.  He is after all, accompanied by the two figures (Elijah and Moses) who had theophanies on mountains in the Old Testament. Moses saw the divine kavod, Elijah hears the divine Word.  Both God's Word and glory are, as we have seen, hypostatized by the Old Testament authors and identified with Jesus by the New Testament authors.  There is no suggestion, Simon Gathercole notes,[9] that Jesus' glory with which he is illuminated is in some sense borrowed.  It is fully communicated to his flesh.  The admonition "listen to him" identifies the word of Jesus with the Word of God that Elijah heard.  This is then a revelation of Christ's anointing with the fullness of divine glory in that the presence of Jesus' humanity is God's own presence.  His human word is Gods' own Word. 

In that he is anointed with the "oil of gladness," he is an embodiment of the gospel itself.  The gospel is the unilateral self-donation of God.  It is the good news that God in Christ has totally and completely donated himself to sinful humanity.  He holds nothing of himself back, but gives himself fully to humanity in act of total self-communication.  In this he is also the image of redeemed humanity.  Humanity was made to receive God's own eternal rest (Heb 2-3).  Humanity is made to in the end receive God's own glory (Rom 8:30) and partakers in the divine nature (1 Pt 1:4).

For this reason, the name of “Jesus Christ” used throughout the New Testament properly summarizes the person and work of Christ. Christ is “Jesus,” that is, God come in the flesh to be our savior.  He is “Christ” the “anointed one” who is because of the unity of his person is anointed with the Holy Spirit and fullness of divine glory, in order that he might fulfill the offices of all the anointed ones of the Old Testament as the true prophet, priest and king. 

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