At the center of our salvation is our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians have a relationship with him. In any meaningful relationship, you know the important things about the other person. So it’s essential that we too be familiar with the key elements of who Jesus Christ is and what he does.
We should begin with his two natures. When the world was created, the eternal Son of God only possessed a divine nature. According John 1:2, everything was created through the Word — through the Son of God. In due time, the Son of God took on a human nature. He became fully one of us – like us in every way yet without sin. Since his incarnation, he has been truly God and truly man. As true God he could bear the weight of eternal wrath in our place and as man he could pay for the sins of other human beings (see HC Lord’s Day 6).
The New Testament describes him with a personal name and titles. His personal name, selected by God himself, is Jesus. “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name “Joshua” and it means “Saviour.” He was called that because, as the angel said, “he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
He also bears two prominent titles. Because it is often comes after his personal name, the title “Christ” has sometimes been mistaken for a surname. However, it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title “Messiah” and it means “Anointed One.” As the Catechism rightly points out in Lord’s Day 12, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our prophet, priest, and king.
His other prominent title is “Lord.” This word simply means “master” or “owner.” Jesus is the Lord of lords. He is the master and owner of all, even though all don’t currently recognize this. Christians, however, do. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we say “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3) and acknowledge that we belong to him, both with body and soul, both in life and death (HC Lord’s Day 1).
Finally, we also confess that he is God’s only-begotten Son. It’s notoriously difficult to define exactly what it means that he is begotten of the Father. A good approach is that of our Catechism in QA 33: he is “the eternal, natural Son of God.” His relationship to the Father is that of a natural Son, even though he is eternally the Son.
When it comes to his work of redemption, it divides up into two phases: humiliation and exaltation. It can be summarized with this diagram:
Only the last step in his exaltation remains to be accomplished.