Luke 1:31
To Mary, as to Elisabeth, it was foretold by the celestial messenger that her Son should be "great." There can be no doubt that, after all that was then said, Mary expected unusually great things of the Child that should be born of her. But how very far short of the fact her highest hopes have proved to be! For to whatever exalted point they reached, the Jewish maiden could not possibly have attached to the angel's words such meaning as we know them to have contained. The greatness of that promised Child was threefold; it related

I. HIS DIVINE ORIGIN. He was not only to be her offspring, but he should "be called the Son of the Most High." And there was to come upon her and overshadow her the Holy Ghost, the Power of the Most High. He was to be not only a son of God, but the Son of God, related to the Eternal Father as no other of the children of men had ever been or should ever be. He was to be One that would in the fullest sense partake of the Divine nature, be one in thought and in aim and in action with the Father (John 5:19, 23; John 8:28; John 10:30; John 14:10, 11). He was to be "God manifest in the flesh."

II. THE WORK HE SHOULD ACCOMPLISH. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus;" and he was to be so called because he would "save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:25). There have been "saviors of society" from whom this poor wounded world might well have prayed to be delivered, men who tried to cover their own hideous selfishness under a fair and striking name. What they have claimed to be, Jesus the Savior was and is. He saves from sin. And to do that is to render us the very greatest conceivable service, both in its negative and positive aspects.

1. Negatively considered. To destroy sin is to take away evil by the root. For sin is not only, in itself, the worst and most shameful of all evils by which we can be afflicted, but it is the one fruitful source of all other evils - poverty, estrangement, strife, weariness and aching of heart, death.

2. Positively considered. Saving from sin means restoring to God; it includes reinstatement in the condition from which sin removed us. Jesus Christ, in the very act in which he redeems us from the penalty and power of sin, restores us to God - to his Divine favor, his likeness, his service. Accepting and abiding in the Savior, we dwell in the sunshine of God's everlasting friendship; we grow up into his perfect image; we spend our days and our powers under his direction. It is not only that Jesus Christ delivers us from the darkest curse; it is that he raises us to the loftiest heritage, by the salvation which he offers to our hearts.

III. THE DIGNITY AND POWER HE SHOULD ATTAIN. He was to reign upon a throne, "over the house of Jacob for ever;" and "of his kingdom there should be no end." Great and large as Mary's expectations for her promised Child may have very justly been, they can have been nothing to the fulfillment of the angel's words. For the kingdom of Christ. (as it is or as it shall be) is one that surpasses in every way that of the greatest Hebrew sovereign. It does so:

1. In its main characteristics. It is spiritual. The only homage which is acceptable to its King is the homage of the heart, the only tribute the tribute of affection, the only obedience the obedience of love. It is beneficent. Every subject in this realm is sacredly bound to seek his brother's wellbeing rather than his own. It is righteous. Every citizen, because he is such, is pledged to depart from all iniquity, to pursue and practice all righteousness.

2. In its extent. It has "no end" in its spacial dimensions. No river bounds it; no mountain, no sea; it reaches the whole world round.

3. In its duration. He shall reign "for ever;" his rule will go down to remotest times; it will touch and include the last generation that shall dwell upon the earth. Let us rejoice in his greatness; but let us see to it that

(1) we have a part in the heritage of those whom he is blessing, and that

(2) we take our share in the furtherance of his mission of mercy. - C.







Call His name Jesus.
Bernard has delightfully said that the name "Jesus" is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, and joy in the heart. I rejoice in that expression on my own account, for it gives me my share of the delight, and leads me to hope that, while I am speaking, the sweetness of that precious name may fill my own mouth. Here also is a portion for you who are listening: it is melody in the ear. If my voice should be harsh, and my words discordant, you will yet have music of the choicest order, for the name itself is essential melody, and my whole sermon will ring with its silver note. May both speaker and hearer join in the third word of Bernard's sentence, and may we all find it to be joy in our hearts, a jubilee within our souls. Jesus is the way to God, therefore will we preach Him; He is the truth, therefore will we hear of Him; He is the life, therefore shall our hearts rejoice in Him. His transporting name is an ointment poured forth, and its scent is varied so as to contain the essence of all fragrances.

I. THE NAME OF JESUS IS A NAME DIVINELY ORDERED AND EXPOUNDED. Like Himself it came down from heaven, for an angel brought it.

1. It is the best name He could bear. To be the " Saviour" is His glory.

2. It is the most appropriate name He could receive. God the Father, who knows Him best, sees this to be His grand characteristic, that He is the "Saviour," and is best represented by this name.

3. It is a name which must be true, since Infinite Wisdom has selected it. A "Saviour" He must be upon a grand scale, continually, abundantly.

II. OUR LORD WAS ACTUALLY CALLED BY THE NAME "JESUS" BY MAN. The God of heaven by His angel appoints the Child's name, but He leaves it to Joseph and Mary to announce it. Those who are taught of God, joyfully recognize that Christ is salvation, and without a question name Him thus.

III. THE NAME HAD BEES TYPICALLY WORN BY ANOTHER, BUT IS NOW RESERVED FOR HIM ALONE. Jesus and Joshua are the same word: Joshua the Hebrew form, Jesus the Greek. The son of Nun was a type of the son of Mary. Jesus of Nazareth alone can save fully from sin.

IV. THIS NAME IDENTIFIES OUR LORD WITH HIS PEOPLE. He declares His relation to them. It is to them that He is a Saviour (Matthew 1:21).

V. THE NAME "JESUS" IS ONE WHICH INDICATES HIS MAIN WORK.

1. He "saves" by taking all the sins of His people upon Himself.

2. He "saves" His people by bearing the penalty due to their sins.

3. He "saves" by driving out the vipers of sin from the heart, and implanting in their stead fresh and holy objects, ambitions, motives.

VI. THIS NAME IS ONE WHICH IS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED BY FACTS. Given Him before He had done anything, while yet a babe, has He not earned it? Does He not well deserve the name He bears?

VII. THIS NAME IS CHRIST'S PERSONAL NAME FOR EVER.

1. It is a home name. Given Him by His own mother.

2. It is a heart name. Full of the music of love — moving our affections, and firing our souls.

3. It was His death name. Written over the cross.

4. It is His resurrection name.

5. It is His gospel name.

6. It is His heaven name.There He is ever adored as the "Saviour." Let us go and tell of this name; let us continually meditate upon it; let us love it henceforth and for ever.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Incarnation was —

1. A fact, revealed in life, words, works.

2. An unfathomable miracle, unprecedented, intimate, voluntary union of Divinity with humanity.

3. A glorious benefit; it is the glory, the light, the life of men.

(Van Doren.)

Means Saviour. Salvation is the beginning and end of revelation Substance of gospel truth.

1. Light.

2. Life.

3. Liberty.

4. Pardon.

5. Sanctification.

6. Comfort.

7. Peace.

8. Hope.

9. Triumph.Christ was and is a Saviour such as the world needs, not as the Jews expected.

(Van Doren.)

1. Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem.

2. Jesus, the Saviour of the world

3. Jesus, the Mediator between God and man.

4. Jesus, the Judge of all man. kind.

(A. F. Barfield.)

Had the narrative of the miraculous conception occurred in the literature of a heathen nation, it would justly have raised doubts. But in the sober verses of the Gospels, written by Jews, it takes a far different character. The idea was altogether foreign to the Jewish mind. The Hebrew doctrine of the unity of God, and of the infinite elevation of the Divine Being above man, the profound regard of the Jews for the married state, and their abhorrence of unwedded life, make it impossible to imagine how such a thought could ever have risen among them. The improbability of its being invented by a Jew is heightened by the fact, that, though lofty thoughts of the nature of the Messiah were not wanting in some Israelites, the almost universal belief was that He was to be simply a man, who would receive miraculous endowments on His formal consecration as Messiah.

(Dr. Geikie.)

An old divine has somewhere said: "There is majesty implied in the name 'God.' There is independent being in 'Jehovah.' There is power in 'Lord.' There is unction in 'Christ.' There is affinity in 'Immanuel;' intercession in Mediator;' and help in 'Advocate;' but there is salvation in no other name under heaven but the name of' Jesus'" (Acts 4:12). A Freedman's teacher writes of a coloured woman who, having learned her alphabet, said, "Now I want to learn to spell Jesus, for 'pears like the rest will come easier if I learn to spell the blessed name first.' A good many things " come easier when we learn that name first."

(Student's Handbook to Scripture Doctrine.)

So the name of "Jesus," the Saviour — a word often pronounced with little estimate of its meaning — will grow in the experience of believing hearts, the hearts of the redeemed, as all "the height, and depth, and length, and breadth" of its unspeakable tenderness, and patience, and love, are more and more in the lapse of ages disclosed to faith; till that name shall be as much more precious than all human names of tenderness and love, as the whole material universe, if crystalized into one huge diamond, would be more precious than one atom of common dust! Do not think we exaggerate. It is impossible to exaggerate the glory of the love "which passeth knowledge," the value of the "riches" which are "unsearchable.

(G. W. Heacoek.)

— A lock was shown to Gotthold, constructed of rings, which were severally inscribed with certain letters, and could be turned round until the letters represented the name "Jesus." It was only when the rings were disposed in this manner that the lock could be opened. The invention pleased him beyond measure; and he exclaimed, " Oh that I could put such a lock as this upon my heart! "Our hearts are already locked, no doubt, but generally with a lock of quite another kind. Many need only to hear the words "gain," "honour," "pleasure," "riches," "revenge," and their heart opens in a moment; whereas to the Saviour and to His holy name it continues shut.

"Jesus" was to be the special and peculiar name of the virgin's Son. It fulfilled prophecy (Isaiah 42:2).

1. This name was new to the Saviour, who was before called "The Word of God," "The Son of God," "The Wisdom of the Father," &c.

2. It now gained a significance it never heretofore possessed.

3. It became the antitype. Joshua as leader of the chosen people into the Promised Land, and Josedech as high priest, are eminent types of Jesus Christ. By Divine appointment our Lord received this name, implying —

I. THE SUBORDINATION OF THE SON. A name to be imposed upon any one, implies the subordination of the recipient to the giver. God the Father alone could have any proper right or authority over Jesus Christ.

II. THE PERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF THE FATHER. He alone perfectly knew the office, end, and effects of the Son coming into this world.

III. A SIGN OF SPECIAL PRIVILEGE. A God-given name always means special favour and goodwill to the person it is bestowed on. Abraham, Jacob, Samson, Peter, Paul, &c. Conclusion: This name of Jesus being Divine must be —

1. Reverenced and honoured.

2. Loved.

3. Obeyed. Then will its salvation become our own.

(James Merchant.)

Jesus! Name stupendous and venerable; a font of mercy; an abyss of judgment; wishing to be loved rather than feared. He took the name of Saviour rather than that of Judge. The sinner must hide as did Adam, or despair as did Cain, when he is without Jesus; but with Him he repents in hope, and rejoices in pardon and grace. This name of Jesus is —

1. Of the highest import to the faithful (John 1:12). The power by no work of ours; which we cannot take away; a grace given to the willing only; by the conformation of the will and love wholly to God.

2. The one refuge for the penitent.

3. The security in conflict. This name supported many martyrs in their fierce trials. It acts upon the unseen powers of sin.

4. A loving yearning in those using it. It brings before the mind all the cost, agony, and suffering by which our salvation was wrought out by Jesus.

5. An ineffable joy to those loving it. It tells of a past work, a present gain, a future glory.

(P. von Hartung.)

The name of Jesus —

1. Consoles the afflicted. Honey in the mouth; melody in the ear; joy in the heart. It speaks of love, pardon, peace.

2. Arms against dangers.

3. Quiets the soul.

4. Renders all prayer profitable. Engrave this name on thy tongue, and if that fail on thy heart, have it ever in thy hand; by it direct thy every thought, word, deed.

(M Faber.)

Name of Jesus a watch word for New Year. An excellent and precious treasure; a treasure-house, full of all help, guidance, and comfort.

1. To prodigals, unconverted, ungodly (Acts 4:12; Acts 3:16).

2. To disciples — partakers of the righteousness of God in Him — full of fightings without and fears within, "the name of the Lord," &c. (Proverbs 18:10).

3. To Christian Church-workers (Colossians 3:17).

4. To the bereaved and afflicted, missing this year from the family and Church well-beloved names (Hebrews 13:8). Take this watchword in four different applications.

I. IN CHURCH LIFE. Perilous times, owing to sinful lives and divided interests of those belonging to the Church. Ship toiling through heaving waves, storm-tossed, timbers strained, sails rent; but look at her name, " Jesus," and know that she must crest every wave, and weather every storm, till the haven be reached. The name of Jesus teaches of holiness and unity; truly borne, it will rebuke sin and division; known in its saving power, it will make Christians holy in Him, and one in Him.

II. IN THE WORLD. We have to live in the world, unsympathizing, scoffing, persecuting. We must not tolerate or countenance sin. Go into the world with the name of Jesus in your heart, and let it not be tainted with evil; hallow the world's work by it, and let the world's habits and customs testify of it. As Columbus leaped to plant the banner of Spain upon the new-found world, plant on the unknown land of the New Year the Cross — seize the year for Jesus; carry His name everywhere; let everything bear its impress. The name of Jesus teaches of purity and resolution; truly known it will make the Christian in the world pure in heart, and resolved to stand his ground.

III. IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. That were a strange year which should bring us no trouble. As well might we look for a year of undimmed sunshine, without clouds or rain. There will be dark, dreary days, biting frosts, heavy storms and tempests and it is for our good in reaping the fruits of the earth that it is so. In like manner afflictions, trials, sicknesses, losses, disappointments, will come, and for our good, to the bringing forth of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. What does the Christian say to such prospects? He trusts in the name of Jesus and fears no evil, He knows in whom he has believed. The name of Jesus is his comfort and stay and peace. It teaches him resignation and unshaken trust.

IV. IN THE HOUR OF DEATH. This may come during the present year. The name of Jesus is the password to heaven. It teaches, in the moment when this world passes away, simple faith in His merits and mediation, by whom alone we can be saved. Other experiences may or may not be ours: death must be. How shall we meet it? Leaning on what rod or staff? The name of Jesus, and faith in His name, is the only sure refuge, and the only secure hope,

(Thos. H. Barnett.)

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