Christian - Identified by the name above all names
Luke 6:12-38 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. 19 And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.
20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
If you ask people how many disciples Jesus had, many will answer twelve. In today’s text it says: It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles…Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. So we see that there is a differentiation between the twelve and the disciples which were referred to as a large crowd. Additionally the text says that there was agreat throng of people who came to hear Him and to be healed by Him. In the same way today, there are many people who come to Jesus to receive from Him. It is often said that there are many people who believe in Christ but there are far less who are truly disciples of Christ. In Ephesians 4:11-12 it speaks of the farther deliniation of people who follow Christ. It says: And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. Jesus called the twelve apostles. There are some today who take offense when people are called apostle or prophet. The church today recognizes pastors and teachers and accepts that there are evangelists, but often do not embrace those who are called apostles or prophets. Jesus Himself called these apostles and He also spoke of prophets. We tend to acknowledge teachers yet, in Matthew 23:8-10 Jesus says: “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.”
Here’s the thing: We tend to view these different giftings and callings with different levels of esteem. We think it a higher calling to be one thing verses another. Yet Jesus continues in Matthew 23:11-12 saying: “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” There is equality in Christ. Of all the things we can be called, perhaps the one that we use almost generically as a reference to those who believe in Christ, the name Christian, is in truth the highest calling of all. The name Christian means “little Christ.” If we are called by the name Christian, we are to be like Him. It is possible to be a pastor or teacher; an evangelist or a prophet apart from Christ. Even an apostle can be a person who initiates a great moral reform or who first advocates an important belief or system, according to Webster. The word Christ comes from the Greek word christos, which means anointed. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew word mashiach or Messiah; the Anointed One of God. When Jesus began His ministry, Luke 4:14-21 says: Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “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.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus, the Christ, was anointed to do all those things spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. Jesus was anointed to be Lord and Savior; Redeemer and King. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Almighty Righteous Judge… He is the name above all names and the only name by which people can be saved. When we identify as Christians, that is the name and the standard we identify with. We too have been anointed. In John 14:12-13 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” We are anointed to do the works that Jesus did so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Whatever our gifting and calling, whatever else may be our identity in Christ, whether an apostle, a prophet; a pastor, teacher, an evengelist, a disciple or one who believes and seeks after Him, we need to recognize that to be a Christian, to be identified by the name above all names is the highest calling; the greatest gift and privilege, but also a tremendous responsibility. We should neither minimize nor neglect what it means to be called by His name. Yet it is what we were created to do and be. In the beginning God said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28) We are created in the image and likeness of God and Christ, anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We should never under estimate and never fail to esteem our calling as Christian.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for the gift, the privilege and the high calling to be like You, in Christ. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, may I never fail to esteem, nor fail to bring glory to the Father through the name of Christ. Amen.