In an old TV commercial, the spokesperson for a hair-loss treatment program announces that not only is he the president of the company, but also that he’s a member – a customer who uses the program. That is, his role wasn’t limited to running the company; he had a need to treat his own baldness, as well.
It is not uncommon for any one of us to serve in multiple roles. A businesswoman might also be a mom. A the CEO of one company might sit on the board of directors of another (maybe that same businesswoman who is also a mom). I knew a preacher who also drove a school bus. In a small school, the principal might also be one of the teachers.
Here’s a passage from what you might recognize as part of the Christmas narrative, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem:
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Luke 2:11 NLT
We may recognize this announcement from what the shepherds were told by an angel, when they were informed that Jesus had been born. However, notice that the angel didn’t just describe one of Jesus’ credentials: like telling the shepherds that Jesus was God’s Son, or that He would teach and heal people. Instead, Jesus was identified by three key attributes that He held:
Jesus is the Savior (the one who paid the price for our sins). He would bring redemption to a world of fallen people. He knew that being oppressed by unjust local government leaders, dishonest tax collectors, prideful religious leaders, or even enslaving empires was not so fatal to the human soul as the consequences of sin. He came to save everyone who would accept it.
Jesus is the Messiah (the one who was promised to the Jewish people). The angel was not just announcing “a savior” – one who would rescue the people – but “the One” that they had been waiting for. Other leaders in the history of the Israelite people (generally with God’s help) had rescued them from oppression, whether fiery judges like Samson, or leaders of restoration like Nehemiah. None of them would provide so great a salvation as Jesus, though, nor was their arrival so greatly anticipated.
Jesus is the Lord (the One who has authority over the entire world). His arrival was one of humble means, and not everyone looked up to Him during His time on earth. However, He is God, He created the universe, and He deserves our allegiance. In fact, all of those things were true before He was born as a human baby. And, in addition to His existing authority (or sovereignty), how much more does every person owe Him our every breath a second time, once He paid the price to redeem us back from the death penalty that we merited because of our sin?
As we ponder this message given to shepherds outside of Bethlehem, consider that these attributes of Jesus are His, whether we acknowledge that or not. He is the Savior, but if we refuse His offer of salvation (perhaps because we are too proud to admit that we need help), He does not force it upon us. He is the Messiah, but if we tell ourselves that He is less than that (maybe just a “good teacher”, despite the evidence to the contrary), He will allow us to remain in our self-misguided state. He is the Lord, but if we do not recognize Him as having authority over us, we do so at our own peril, especially when He returns: not as an infant, but in power: power to banish evil, and to welcome home those who have followed Him.