Reading Scripture: John 20:30-31
Scripture to Memorize: Acts 2:36
Reference: Matthew 1:21
Goal: to help readers realize the difference between the meanings of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ by studying the ministry of Jesus who came to the earth in flesh to fulfill the duty as the Savior
To accomplish the providence of ‘human cultivation’, God created the first man, Adam, and put him in the Garden of Eden. He also placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden. In this way, the providences that have been formed for ‘human cultivation’ contain God’s amazing love.
What is the most important part of the providence of human cultivation? It is Jesus who came to the earth to fulfill His duty as the Savior. He completed the way of salvation by being crucified and resurrected. Jesus is the Son of God, but He had to undergo special processes until He finally gained the title of the ‘Christ’. Just as every country has its own law, the spiritual world also has its law. To become the Savior according to the spiritual law, Jesus had to meet certain qualifications. How is this related to the difference between the names of ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Christ’?
1. Jesus, Crucified to Redeem Us from Our Sins
From the beginning of His public ministry Jesus spread the gospel of the heavenly kingdom and testified to the living God by performing amazingly powerful works. It was such that Peter said to Him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. This is because the time of His crucifixion hadn’t come yet.
Jewish religious leaders were becoming well aware of a sense of crisis as the number of those who followed Jesus was increasing over time. They tried to find fault with Jesus. They laid false charges against Him for blaspheming against God and His temple to kill Him. In the end, Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate, who was governor of Judea dispatched from the Roman Empire, and He was sentenced to death. He suffered from judgment, oppression, and hardships and then He was crucified.
Why did God let it happen? Why did He allow for His beloved Son to die on the cross in such excruciating pain? This is God’s providence to save men who had become sinners. To save mankind, who had no choice but go to Hell because of sins, Jesus had to pay the price of sin on their behalf. The Bible tells us that everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed (Galatians 3:13), and all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
That’s why Jesus had to die on the wooden cross and shed blood on behalf of mankind, who had been cursed due to sins, to redeem them from sins. God had to allow for it and Jesus fulfilled the duty of the Savior by dying on the cross with joy and thanks.
2. Jesus Christ, Overcoming Death, Resurrecting, and Ascending into Heaven
The spiritual world has a law that says “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). According to this law, death is unavoidable for anyone who has committed sins. But the God of love pre-prepared the way of salvation in His amazing wisdom because He foreknew that Adam, the first man, would disobey and all mankind after him were bound to the way of death. And God concealed the way of salvation as a mystery until His appointed time came.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 says, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Colossians 1:27 reads, “To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
As said above, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages was revealed through Jesus’ overcoming death and His resurrection. Through this, anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ can gain the blessings of salvation and eternal life. That is, we had no way but to Hell because of our sins, but now we have come to gain the right to become God’s child by believing Jesus Christ and enjoy everlasting life and eternal blessing and joy in the beautiful Heaven. How amazing it is!
The resurrected Jesus Christ stayed on the earth for 40 days and gave His disciples faith in the resurrection and hope for Heaven. Before He ascended into heaven, He said that the Holy Spirit would come to them and urged them to become the Lord’s witnesses even in the remotest part of the earth by receiving the Spirit and the power (Acts 1:8). Jesus Christ gave the Great Commission to His beloved disciples on the earth and ascended into heaven as many people watched it. After fulfilling the duty as the Savior, He sat on the right hand of God and He has given intercessory prayer for believers and prepared dwelling places in heaven.
Jesus Christ will come to the earth again to lead believers to Heaven. Around 2,000 years ago He came in a lowly from to fulfill His duty as the Savior, but when the times comes, He will descend from Heaven as the King of kings and the Lord of lords with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God as written in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Believers adorned as the brides of the Lord will be changed into the spiritual body and they will attend the Seven-year Wedding Banquet in the air with the Lord their Bridegroom. Afterwards, they will reign on the earth with the Lord for a thousand years. Then, they will go through the Great Judgment of White Throne and live forever in the eternal heavenly kingdom.
3. The Difference between the Names of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’
In John 4:48 Jesus said, “Unless people see signs and wonders, they simply will not believe” and He showed countless signs and wonders during His ministry on the earth (John 20:30-31). Even after His resurrection, He presented Himself before many people in Jerusalem and Galilee. What was the reason? This was because He wanted them to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and gain eternal life through the faith in Him.
Thomas was one of Jesus’ disciples and a man of doubt. He didn’t believe Jesus to be the Christ from the bottom of his heart although he saw innumerable signs and wonders for the three years he was with Jesus. But he demolished all his doubts when he met the resurrected Jesus Christ and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Eventually, Thomas, after receiving the Spirit and the power, could perform his powerful ministry in India that was a predominantly Hindu country. And he came to have faith with which he could even become a martyr.
In this manner, the disciples who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection firsthand came to lead a totally changed life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 is recorded, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” As said, they were not afraid of death because they came to believe Jesus is the Christ and accepted Him as their Savior.
What we should realize here is the difference between ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’. As for Thomas, he didn’t have true faith even while Jesus was performing the ministry in flesh on the earth. But when Jesus conducted His ministry as the Christ after crucifixion and resurrection, Thomas immediately made spiritual confession and gained true faith and eternal life.
Then, what is a specific difference between ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’? Matthew 1:21 reads, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The name ‘Jesus’ refers to the One who will save His people from their sins, which is a future form. On the other hand, ‘Christ’, meaning ‘anointed’, is a translation of the Hebrew, ‘the Messiah’, and is used as a title for Jesus. So, the ‘Christ’ refers to ‘the anointed one’ as the Savior. Thus, Jesus is His name and the Christ is His title that He gained after He became qualified.
Let’s say there is a student who wants to be a wonderful doctor in the future. We don’t immediately call him a doctor. Only after he studies hard, takes necessary courses, and passes the tests, and receives the qualifications necessary, will he then be given the title as a medical doctor. Likewise, Jesus had to undergo special qualifications before He gained the title of ‘Christ’. He prepared His ministry for 30 years and performed the public ministry for three years, and He was crucified. But then, He was resurrected on the third day and became the Christ. From the moment of His resurrection, Jesus gained all the qualifications to receive the title of the ‘Christ’ and He became ‘Jesus Christ’.
In this way, ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Christ’ have their own different meanings: ‘the One who will save men’ and ‘the One who has saved men’ respectively. It is fitting to call Him Jesus before the resurrection and to call Him ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘the Lord Jesus’, or ‘the Lord’ after the resurrection. The Bible also shows that people added the title ‘Christ’ or the Lord to ‘Jesus’ when they spoke of Him after His resurrection and ascension.