The Lord Jesus has many titles which not only identify Him in a specific way, but they also speak of His greatness and glory. The New Testament, for example, begins by referring to Him as the ‘Son of David, the Son of Abraham’ (Matthew 1:1). John’s gospel begins by calling Him ‘the Word’ (John 1:1) and John the Baptist identified Him as ‘the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29). One of His special titles of is that of Saviour. This title expresses the very meaning of His name Jesus – Jehovah the Saviour. We will consider Him as such under the following four headings:
1.His Identity as Saviour – He is Christ the Lord 2.His Immensity as Saviour – He is the Saviour of the World 3.His Destiny as Saviour – He Died on the Cross at Jerusalem 4.His Ability as Saviour – He Saves Completely and Eternally
1. His Identity as Saviour – He is Christ the Lord
The title Saviour means one who delivers or rescues. This is not hard to understand. People everywhere everyday find themselves in situations where they are in need of rescue. Some years back my wife and I along with our children enjoyed a weekend away in Edinburgh, Scotland. All went well until the return journey home. Joining the A76 after visiting Kilmarnock the engine of my car suddenly stopped. Thankfully I was able to direct the car into the nearest layby and there we sat helpless as the traffic sped by. Stranded on the side of a busy dual carriage way with a seriously broken down car (it turned out to be a failed timing belt) we were in need of rescue. We needed a saviour! That saviour came in the form of the RAC, the Royal Automobile Club of which I was a member at that time. A phone call to appeal for help eventually led to the arrival of a driver in his breakdown truck who lifted car and passengers and took us to the ferry at Stranraer. The ferry staff dealt with the car from there and at the other side of the Irish Sea another breakdown truck was waiting to take us and vehicle all the way home to Mid Ulster.
The Bible says: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15). He came to rescue sinful humanity and the good news is that He is only a ‘call’ away from those who appeal to Him for salvation for ‘whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13).
After the birth of Jesus, the angel of the Lord announced His arrival to a few lowly and frightened Judean shepherds with these words: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11 KJV).
Notice how the angel identified Him – ‘a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.’ The latter two titles speak of His uniqueness and greatness. As Christ He is God’s anointed, the promised deliverer (Genesis 3:15) and ruler (Isaiah 9:6-7) whose coming was foretold in the Old Testament. The title Messiah (Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:26) is the Old Testament equivalent to the New Testament title Christ. It means – ‘Anointed one.’ In Old Testament times persons and things set apart for God’s service and work were anointed with oil in recognition of their sacred purpose – the high priest of Israel (Leviticus 8:12), kings (1 Samuel 9:15-16; 16:12-13), the tabernacle (Leviticus 8:10-11). Jesus as the Christ is God’s anointed; the one set apart for special service and universal greatness. Jesus Himself expressed the fulfilment of His Messianic mission in the words of the prophet Isaiah on a visit to the synagogue in Nazareth:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19).
Not only is He Christ, He is also Lord. This title speaks of His glory, supremacy and authority. Isaiah the prophet saw Him as the eternal sovereign Lord of hosts as described in Isaiah 6:1-4. This was a vision of what we may call, His pre-incarnate glory. A sight of His person long before He ever entered into time and humanity. The apostle John, when quoting from Isaiah, confirmed that the one seen by Isaiah was indeed Jesus: ‘These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him’ (John 12:41).
What these two titles indicate about the Saviour is that though He came into obscure, lowly and insignificant circumstances in all the fragility and dependency of an infant, He did come as a mighty Saviour and His Greatness He would ultimately prove by His miracles, death and resurrection. The wonder is that the greatest and highest stooped to be born of a woman and laid in the feeding trough of animals. As another has said: ‘The only person in history, who was able to choose where He was to be born, chose a stable.’ This is called grace.
2. His Immensity as Saviour – He is the Saviour of the World
Early in His public ministry Jesus stopped for a rest in Samaria on His way back to Galilee from Judea. He had been to Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. Resting at Jacob’s well in Sychar He engaged in evangelistic conversation with a woman who had come to draw water. She was His first contact and became His first convert in that place. She believed Him to be the Messiah (John 4:25-26) and testifying to her fellow countrymen (John 4:28-29) many of them believed also with many more coming to faith after hearing Jesus Himself. This what they said to the woman: “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:41-42 KJV).
This is quite a statement. The apostle John again confirms its truth when he writes in 1 John 4:14 that ‘the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world’ (KJV). Is this exaggeration? The diverse peoples over the passing centuries who have believed the same truth demonstrate otherwise. He truly is the Saviour for all, is needed by all and is available to all. He continues to do what He said He would: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). He who was lifted high on a cross is still drawing sinners to Himself from every part of the globe. Not by some irresistible force, but attracting them as a personal Saviour who saves from sin and judgment while meeting the need of the human heart and offering hope in the darkness of this world. As God’s only Son He is man’s only Saviour. The Bible says: ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).
3. His Destiny as Saviour – He Died on the Cross at Jerusalem
The gospel according to Luke focuses upon the journey of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem. He often visited Jerusalem throughout His life and during His public ministry, but Luke traces Him moving toward His final visit to Jerusalem and to the time when He would fulfill the destiny for which He came into the world. Jesus was born to die and for Him the Cross at Jerusalem was the designed destiny of His life and service. And so Luke records: ‘Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up [to heaven], that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem’ (Luke 9:51. See also Luke 13:22; 17:22; 18:31; 19:28). When Moses and Elijah appeared to Him on the mountain they spoke of His Exodus He was soon to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). They too were referring to His departure back to heaven via the Cross. As the Lord moved to this goal He frequently told His disciples what would happen to Him in the clear and graphic terms: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again” (18:31-33). Jesus knew exactly what was before Him. Flint like in His resolve to do His Father’s will (Isaiah 50:7) He would not be deflected, distracted or discouraged from the path to the Cross where He would secure salvation for the world. The Cross of course does not stand alone. The end of His earthly journey was the beginning of His journey back to glory. The Cross was His saving work and His resurrection proof of His saving power. Ascended to heaven, He is God’s exalted ‘Prince and Saviour’ (Acts 5:31). The vital thing to understand is that my destiny is bound up in His destiny. How I respond to the gospel of Christ crucified will determine my ultimate destiny in eternity – heaven’s glory or hell’s judgment.
4. His Ability as Saviour – He Saves Completely and Eternally
When hanging on the Cross the enemies of Jesus mocked Him saying: “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” (Mark 15:31). That ‘He saved others’ was undeniably true. That He could not save Himself was inaccurate. That is what His persecutors foolishly assumed. It was not that He could not save Himself, rather it was that He would not save Himself. He sacrificed Himself to save others.
Once Peter walked on the sea of Galilee by the power of Jesus, but when he became afraid he began to quickly sink down under the waves. In desperation he cried “Lord save me!” ‘And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him’ (Matthew 14:30-31). This illustrates the promise that ‘Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). The Lord Jesus still saves perishing souls who call upon His name – that is why He died and rose again. And, His saving power is neither temporal nor limited for He saves completely and eternally. Completely in that He both saves in a moment and throughout life until He brings the believer safe into His presence where the blessing of eternal salvation and the fullness of eternal life are forever enjoyed.
‘He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them’ (Hebrews 7:25).
Is He your Saviour?
KJV – Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.