Author: Ron Graham
No doubt Pilate wrote the name "Jesus" over the head of our Lord on the cross, simply because that was his name. This name, however, was given by God at Jesus's birth because it has a special meaning. Jesus is our Saviour (Matthew 1:21)
The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah saves". Jesus was truly our Saviour as he hung on the cross, for his death is our one and only means of salvation from sin and wrath.
The Bible says, "Behold the kindness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22).. God's severity and perfect justice cannot tolerate any sin, and demands punishment. But God's kindness (or grace) accepts the punishment of Christ instead of our own. It is in this sense that Jesus is our "Saviour".
God's acceptance of Christ's punishment on the cross as a substitute for our own eternal punishment, is called not only "salvation", but also "justification, sanctification, and redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30).
We call Jesus our Saviour because he justifies us. Our "justification" or "righteousness" means being counted by God as righteous, even though we have sinned. This is made possible by virtue of the vicarious suffering which Jesus Christ endured on the cross. The term "vicarious" means "taking the place of another to be a substitute". God accepts Christ's punishment instead of ours, and this sets us right with God again.We are "justified" or "made righteous".
We call Jesus our Saviour because he sanctifies us. Our "sanctification" or "holiness" means being made holy and clean when we were unholy and unclean in God's sight. But there is only one thing that can cleanse us: "The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7). This statement is made in this context: "God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). If there is any darkness in us, we cannot have fellowship with God. Jesus "sanctifies" us and purges all our darkness away so that we are only light. We are "sanctified" or "made holy".
We call Jesus our Saviour because he redeems us. Our "redemption" is understood when we look back at our ruined lives all marred by sin. We can see that we no longer belonged to God, but to Satan. We must say with Paul, "I am carnal, sold under sin" (Romans 7:14). The term "carnal" means "of the flesh". Of course, God did not sell us, we sold ourselves like the people of old who "sold themselves to do evil" (1Kg 21:20, 2Kg 17:17).
If we were not properly regarded as belonging to Satan, why should God have determined to send us into the eternal punishment "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41)? Why should we share Satan's destiny if Satan did not own us? And why should God's Son die on the cross for us? Indeed, we became Satan's possession when we sinned. God recognises that, and so should we.
If we belonged to Satan, we would be punished with him, unless God provided for our rescue and escape, and unless we accepted that way and reached out to God for it. But God would not steal us from Satan, and if God was to take us back, a price had to be paid.
This was not to satisfy Satan, but to satisfy God. God would not pay evil for evil. God would not pay evil for good. But he would pay good for evil, that evil might be overcome. This payment for our rescue is called "redemption" or "purchase".
We conclude our lesson by stating that Jesus our Saviour is our only possible saviour, justifier, sanctifier, and redeemer.
Only Jesus our Saviour was able to rescue us from slavery to sin and from the wrath to come. God saw no other thing but the blood of his only begotten Son, as sufficient price and sacrifice to justify our salvation from sin. Yet God in his goodness so loved us, that he gave us his one and only Son (John 3:16). Therefore the gospel says, "You have been bought with a price" (1Corinthians 6:20, 7:23), and "God purchased the church with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
The heavenly song praises Jesus, "You purchased for God with your blood men from every nation" (Revelation 5:9). As Jesus our Saviour faced his own death, he spoke of his "blood... shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). Nobody else could have done that.
The Bible says, "Behold the kindness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22). God's severity demands that a price be paid. But God's kindness pays the price that we could not find. And such a price! The blood of his only Son. Our freedom from slavery has been purchased. We have been "redeemed" by the precious blood of Jesus our Saviour (1Peter 1:18-19).