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WHO ARRIVED ON EARTH FROM HEAVEN?
by Philip Owen

            John concludes his Gospel with these words:  “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (21:25).  Those two little words, “I suppose,” indicate that John does not want his readers to think that his words are to be taken hyperbolically.  He might well have made a similar statement regarding the names and titles of the Lord.  Surely, when all the ramifications of the twelve appellations found in the first chapter have been taken into account, a second world could not contain the books that would be written.  And given the fact that the Bible offers more than 250 names for the Lord Jesus, the potential number of volumes is mindboggling.  We conclude this brief survey with these final names.

            9.  The Son of God.  The Apostle John records the testimony of John the Baptist regarding this name:   “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God” (v. 34).  The last Old Testament prophet put his reputation on the line and ultimately gave His life in affirmation of the truth that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  This name does not suggest something about the generation or the origins of Christ (Who was co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit and has neither beginning nor end) but an expression of His absolute deity, His intimate relationship with the Father with Whom He was one, and a testament to His complete and perfect voluntary submission to the Father.

           10.  The Messiah, Christ.  Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus, having told him, “We have found the Messiah,” that John explains parenthetically, “translated means Christ” (v. 41).  Jesus was the Messiah, Christ, the anointed of God in the Holy Spirit so that He might fulfill three divinely appointed offices as prophet, priest, and king.  The entire Old Testament was written in order to prepare the way for this Anointed One.  He is the ultimate fulfillment of all that Israel’s prophets had foretold about a coming Kinsman redeemer and King.

           11.  The King of Israel.  It was that King that Nathaniel acknowledged:  “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (v. 49).  How remarkable is such a testimony about an anonymous nobody born to a pair of anonymous nobodies!  Nathaniel did not arrive at his conclusion because he knew the lineage of Mary and Joseph to be in the Davidic line, nor because Christ had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, lived in a palace, and retained a large retinue, but simply on the basis of Christ’s miraculous knowledge about Nathaniel before they met for the first time.  Christ’s infinite knowledge, coupled with His august but gentle nature, immediately captured Nathaniel’s heart.  And in simple faith, he acknowledged his King.

           12.  The Son of Man.  John ends this remarkable compendium of names by quoting the Lord  identifying Himself with the name by which He most frequently referred to Himself.  Responding to Nathaniel’s testimony, the Lord said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (v. 51).  How we must marvel at the love, humility, and condescension that name reveals about the Lord, how it expresses the reality that He chose literally to take on human flesh and a human nature and to delight to be so identified.  It is the nature of man to scratch and scramble in order to climb up the social ladder; it was the nature of God in the Person of Christ to descend the ladder from heaven and take on lowly, frail human flesh in order to die and to redeem us from our sins.

            Can you think of a better way to end the old year (or for that matter, begin a new one) than by meditating on some of the names of Christ that He was pleased to give us in order that we might know and understand Him a little better, love Him a little more fully, and serve Him a little more faithfully?  May we do so as we await His appearing in the clouds.

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