The New Testament richly describes theperson and ministry of Jesus through various titles. The New Testament contains at least 175 titles for Jesus. Since the NT highlights various titles for Jesus, twenty-first century believers greatly benefit from a study of the titles for Jesus.
“The study of Christ is diminished when these ascriptions are neglected.”
Why does the NT contain such numerous titles for Jesus?
One leader from the early church postulated that Christ meet people at their point of need by revealing his identity by means of specific titles. “The Savior comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who lack joy, He becomes the Vine; to those who wish to enter in, He is the Door; for those who must offer prayer, He is the mediating High-Priest. Again, to those in sin, He becomes the Lamb to be sacrificed on their behalf. He becomes ‘all things to all men’ remaining in His own nature what He is.”
What do the titles for Jesus in John 1:19-51 reveal about Jesus?
First, the title Son of Man (1:51) highlights Jesus heavenly origin as well as future end-time ministry. In the four gospels, Jesus alone referred to Himself as Son of Man. His unique usage underscores the importance of the title.
The background for this title comes from Daniel 7:13-14. The Son of Man, according to Daniel, the Son of Man approached God (Ancient of Days) as an equal and received from God an everlasting dominion comprised of people from every people group and language that serve (worship) the Son of Man.
The title “Son of Man” occurs thirteen times in the fourth Gospel to emphasize Jesus descent from heaven (3:13), ascension to heaven (6:62), role as giver of eternal life (6:27, 53), end-time judge (5:27), and the one glorified through His death (12:23; 13:31).
Second, the title “Son of God” (1:49) emphasizes Jesus identify and relationship with God. The title “Son of God” occurs nine times in the Gospel and the abbreviated form “Son” occurs more frequently. Twice the title occurs in the fourth Gospel as Jesus’ self-description (10:36; 11:4). Martha proclaimed the climatic confession of faith in the NT, offered in the context of pain and grief, as she acknowledged Jesus as “Son of God” (11:27).
The Son of God and the Father have a mutual love relationship (3:35; 5:20). As the Son, Jesus always obeys the Father (5:17-18).
As the Son, Jesus is the active agent of spiritual and physical resurrection (5:25).
Failure to believe in Jesus’ status as Son of God presently experiences the condemnation of God (3:18).
Third, the title “Lamb of God” communicates Jesus’ role as the sin sacrifice (1:29, 36). By the use of the term, John the Baptist brought together a collage of OT themes.
First, Jesus is the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) and the Last Supper contains Passover imagery. During the Passover, the application of blood resulted in the “passing over” of the agent of God’s judgment.
Second, the OT proscribed daily sacrifices of lambs to make atonement for sins (Lev. 1:4).
Third, Isaiah described the Suffering Servant as a slaughtered lamb (Isa. 53:7) pierced and crushed for our transgressions and iniquities resulting in peace (Isa. 53:5).
Jesus as the Lamb of God fulfilled all the OT sacrifices. Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God “took away” sins by bearing the penalty due us because of our sin.
Fourth, Jesus fulfilled the promises of God for an anointed King as evidenced by the titles “Messiah” and “King of Israel” (1:41, 49). The Messiah was the promised ruler from the house of David. The complete manifestation of Jesus as King awaits His return.
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