What’s in a name?
Today we are going to ask ourselves, in relation to Jesus, What’s in a name? I wonder what your name means. Parents usually name their children after the hopes and aspirations they have for that child. For example, the name John means “the gift of God”. I know somebody called Grace, and her nature is that of somebody full of grace. My name of David means “beloved” and when my parents named me, it was meant to symbolize the love they had for me.
But what does the name Jesus mean? When Jesus was born, his very name imbued the reason he was born. The name Jesus as we discovered in an earlier message means “Saviour” or “One who saves or rescues.” The entirety of His birth, life and death was centered on this very role - saving and rescuing all those who would believe, receive and follow Him. We have seen in the testimony of the Apostles John, Peter and Paul how Jesus came to save sinners, to call people to follow, believe and receive Himself! This Jesus who proclaimed He was the only way to God!
Jesus’ conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. So important is our understanding of his birth that, according to the Gospel accounts, no fewer than 4 angels came to give a full picture of the event. Do you think that his parents, Joseph & Mary, ever gazed upon him, and thought “How misnamed He is”! They did not, because they knew the very purpose for which He was born.
This Jesus, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is the most talked about person in history. Almost everyone has an opinion about Him. Jesus was born to confirm God's promises, to reveal God as a Father, and to be our representative before Him. Jesus gave us an example of how to live a holy life to the full. Jesus was not merely a man who received some special power. Jesus was not some strange creation that was half man and half God, with his human nature somehow absorbed into the divine. He was, as we shall see in the coming studies, much more than those ideas – Jesus was fully God and fully human! Jesus came to serve all others and not to be served! Jesus came in order to call others to a life of following, receiving and believing in Him! Jesus came to reconcile people back into a peaceful and dynamic relationship with God by means of shedding his blood on the cross! Jesus trusted God to raise Him from the dead – and he did! Jesus – resurrected, ascended, glorified and exalted! Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Jesus Christ, who proclaimed “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
JC Ryle, the great 19th century Anglican bishop of Liverpool, once wrote these words about the name of Jesus “Jesus is a very encouraging name to weighted-down sinners. He, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, might lawfully have taken some more high-sounding title. But He does not do so. The rulers of this world have often called themselves great, conquerors, bold, magnificent, and the like. The Son of God is content to call Himself Saviour. Those seeking salvation may draw near to the Father with boldness, and have access with confidence through Christ. It is His role and His delight to show mercy. "For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him" (John 3:17).
Jesus is a name, which is especially sweet and precious to believers. It has often done them good. It has given them what money cannot buy - that is, inward peace. It has eased their wearied consciences and given rest to their heavy hearts. The Song of Solomon describes the experience of many, when it says, "Your name is oil poured forth" (Song of Solomon 1:3). Happy is the person who trusts not merely in vague notions of God's mercy and goodness, but in "Jesus."
Jesus was proclaimed by the Apostle John, Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul and the early church as the Saviour and rescuer of the world – just as his name Jesus means! I am bound to ask you this: "Is Jesus your Saviour and rescuer? Are you following, believing and receiving Him?"
Because as the Apostle Paul acknowledges in Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."