"I Believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord."

Updated: Aug 28

Confessing belief in our Lord Jesus, the Messiah


We return, once more, to the creed which binds together Christendom. We have previously surveyed why we need such creeds in our minds, homes, and churches. Further, we had an introduction to the Apostles' Creed and a look at its first statement. In doing so, we have confessed that "we believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." This is not an insignificant statement as it focuses in on the God in Whom we believe; He is a trinitarian and omnipotent God, sovereign over all of creation. Today's statement will both elucidate that truth and add more specificity to understanding the God in Whom we believe.


The second statement of the Apostle's Creed adds:

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

What a succinct statement, yet full of glory! It begins again with "I believe" ("credo"- Latin for "I believe" see previous week's post). This immediately brings attention to a point that I have meant to make over the past two weeks- we are using the contemporary form of the creed. The traditional form presents the statement in this manner:

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord.

As you can readily see, there is little variance between the two forms. The traditional form implies "I believe" with the conjunction "and", whereas the contemporary specifically states the wording. Either way, the creed makes it clear that what we believe about Jesus is essential to orthodoxy for the Christian church.


So What does it say?


Seeing that we are making a statement of faith about Jesus, what does this Creed confess? It actually confesses a great deal in an economy of words. In order to see this, we are going to walk through this second statement at an almost word-for-word pace. In doing so, we will see that our minds and affections are set upon the "author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). So, once more we are called to believe in...


Jesus

Jesus is the given name of our great Savior. It was not insignificantly chosen by Mary or Joseph, but a name appointed by heavenly direction. In fact, both parents were commanded through angelic messengers (on behalf of God) in this matter. Gabriel told Mary:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” The Gospel of Luke 1:30-33

There is certainly a great deal to say about this passage, but the key point is that Mary is commanded that this child's name is to be Jesus. This is a statement of obvious importance as the name "Jesus" ("Yeshua" in Hebrew), is of historic and onomastic (the history and meaning of names) significance.


"Yeshua" is a name of great historical importance; it is the name of the great Old Testament leader, Joshua. Immediately, we are struck by interesting parallels. Both figures, Joshua and Jesus, are completing the work of Moses. Joshua, the son of Nun, both succeeds Moses and finishes leading the children of Israel into the land of promise. Jesus, greater than the first Joshua, is the prophet testified to by Moses, himself.

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear" Deuteronomy 18:15

In other words, Jesus succeeds Moses as the great prophet of God, but, as Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us, He does so in a greater way. Jesus is greater than all of the prophets that came before Him. Also, like Joshua, Jesus is leading the people of God into the promise of God. Just as Joshua led Israel into fair Canaan, so Jesus is leading His people into a place of peace and reconciliation with God.


Secondly, "Yeshua" is a name which carries great onomastic significance. It means “savior” or “Jehovah is salvation” (Elwell and Beitzel, 1141). It carries the idea of "deliverance" and "salvation by God, primarily from external evils" (Brown, Driver, and Briggs, 477). Simply put, this is a name which speaks to a deliverance which God alone can offer. It is in this sense that we see the naming command in the Gospel of Matthew. There, the angelic messenger instructs Joseph:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

Note that not only is the name Jesus offered, but so too the interpretation of the name's meaning- "He shall save His people from their sin." The significance, then, is two-fold; Jesus is not only His given name, but also details the mission for which He came. He came to save His people from their sins!


Christ

As is often stated, Christ is not the last name of Jesus; it is actually His title. Christ is the English transliteration of "Christos", which is, itself, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah. In other words, Jesus Christ is simply saying Jesus Messiah, or Jesus the Messiah. The messianic idea is that of being anointed by God. Jesus is the anointed servant of God pictured throughout the Old Testament.


The Messiah is the fulfillment of the great mediator roles of the Old Testament. The Messiah would be the perfect prophet, greater than those anointed for such service in the Old Testament (Moses, Elijah, etc.). He would be the perfect high priest for Psalm 110 tells us that He will come from an entirely different priestly order. By comparison, if the priests of the Levitical priesthood were anointed with oil, how much greater will be the anointing of the One who comes as the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek? It will be of an incomparable increase. Finally, just as the Davidic Kings were anointed, so too will this Messianic and Davidic King. Still, His rule and reign is greater than David. David was the King of Israel; Psalm 2 tells us that the Messiah will reign over all the nations.

When we confess that we believe in Jesus Christ, we are saying something very specific. We are stating that we believe that this Jesus is the Messiah; that He is the Lord's anointed, long-promised in the Old Testament. We are confessing that Jesus is the Savior of the people of God. Quite simply, we are saying that it is in Jesus that we place our faith to the glory of God the Father.