The Name of Jesus
“The Name of Jesus”
Matthew 1:21 “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
The use of Bible names, especially in OT times, carried much more significance than it does in our day. People often used names to reveal something about the characteristics or nature of individuals, and God did too.
For instance, God changed the name of Abram (meaning high father) to Abraham (father of a multitude), and the name of Jacob (heel catcher, supplanter) to Israel (Prince of God). Even in the NT, Jesus changed the name of Simon (hearing) to Peter (a rock).
And if human names were important, the names of God were much, much more.
One commentator wrote, “To know the NAME of God is to understand the character of God...”...the name is a part of the person, an extension of the personality of God.”
In Scripture, God used names as a means of progressively revealing Who He was. For example, in Exodus 6:3 God said, “And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH I was not known to them.”
We know that Abraham did use the name Jehovah (Genesis 22:14); but God did not make known to him the full significance of this name in its redemptive aspect.
So later, in Exodus 6:3, God promises to reveal Himself to His people in a new way. That is, He began to associate His name with a new understanding of His character.
As time passed He revealed Himself as Jehovah Jireh—the Lord who sees and provides, Jehovah Shalom—the Lord our peace, Jehovah Nissi—the Lord our banner, and Jehovah Rophe—the Lord our healer.
In addition to using names to reveal His character, God used His name to manifest His presence. For instance, at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon acknowledged that God was omnipresent and that no temple could contain Him. 1 Kings 8:27 says, “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
Since God fills the universe, Solomon asked how the Temple, a man-made structure, could contain God. Then he answered his own question by reminding God of His own promise, which said, “My name shall be there”—1 Kings 8:29
Although God’s omnipresence could not be confined to the Temple, yet the fullness of His character as represented by His name could dwell there.
Solomon went on to pray, “O God, I pray that all people of the earth may know your name.”—1 Kings 8:43 Once again, this links the name of God to a revelation of His character.
We see that God told Pharaoh, “And in very deed for this cause have I raised you up, to show in you my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”—Exodus 9:16
So, the name of God represents:
But scripture expands even more on the importance God places upon His name:
God demands fear (reverence, respect) for His name—Deuteronomy 28:58-59 “If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses.”
And in Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
God warns His people not to forget His name “If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, would not God search this out?”—Ps. 44:20-21
God promised a blessing for those who know His name “Because he (the believer) has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name”—Psalm 91:14-16
There is even a blessing for those who think upon His name: “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”—Mal 3:16
Now, the good news is that when the fullness of time came, God satisfied the longings of His people and fulfilled His Word through His prophets by revealing Himself in all His power and glory through the name JESUS.
Remember, God’s name represents His presence, character, power, and authority.
So how important is the name JESUS?
The word Jesus is from the Greek word, Iesous, which in turn comes form the Hebrew word, Joshua. Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.” So the name of Jesus means Jehovah-Savior, Jehovah our salvation, or Jehovah is salvation.
This is why the angel said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS; for He shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:21
Although others have been named Joshua or Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who actually lived up to that name!
The name JESUS is the culmination, the sum total of all the OT names of God. It is the highest, most exalted name ever revealed to mankind. The name of Jesus fulfills all the compound names of Jehovah—Our Healer, Provider, Shepherd, Banner, Peace, Sanctifier, Present Help, and Righteousness.
The name of Jesus is the name of God that He promised to reveal when He said through Isaiah, “Therefore my people shall know my name”—Isaiah 52:6
So, Jesus is our Savior, and our salvation from sin and sin’s consequences. But Peter in his Pentecost sermon declared that there was much more to Jesus’ name! He said that God has made Jesus both “Lord and Christ.”
The name CHRIST is powerful!
Christ is pronounced Christos in the Greek language and means “anointed” or “anointed one.” According to OT law, Priests, kings, and prophets were supposed to be anointed for their particular offices.
The Christ, or the Messiah, combined all three of these anointings in one. This is why Isaiah, when prophesying of the coming of the Messiah, said “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me. Because the Lord has anointed Me...”—61:1
It’s important to understand that the term Christ or Messiah was a TITLE rather than a proper name.
Most of you here today refer to me as Pastor Jeff. “Pastor” is my title and refers to the office I hold. “Jeff” is my name and refers to me as a person. “Jesus” is His name, and “Christ” is the office He holds! Jesus is the Christ—God’s anointed king, priest and prophet!
Simon Peter first knew the Lord as Jesus, the person. But when Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied by revelation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus is His name, and Christ is his office. Three times in the NT Jesus accepted the title of Christ. 1.) When Peter said it. 2.) When the High Priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. He said, “I am.” 3.) And when the woman at the well said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming who is called Christ. When He comes He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Now, as the NT church, we are to be identified by the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said we would be hated among all men for His name’s sake—Matt 10:22. The early church was persecuted for the name of Jesus—Acts 5:28; 9:21; 15:26
The High Priest and Pharisees said to Peter and the disciples, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?” And they beat the disciples for using the name.
Paul spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus among the Jews and they attempted to kill him for it.
The disciples are described in Acts 15:26 as men who had risked their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they considered it a privilege to be counted worthy to suffer for His name—Acts 5:41.
So think about it: There was and always has been an issue over...the name, because the NAME OF JESUS carries the power, authority, presence, and character of God!
To those who love Him, His name is Wonderful. But to a godless, sinful, rebellious world, the name brings forth an angry and negative response.
Which brings us to why the word “Christmas” has become an issue in our culture. It’s Christmas time again, and in department stores and other places of business, employees have either been told or it is subtly suggested they no longer say “Merry Christmas” lest, they claim, anti-Christian people get offended.
Many times already this Christmas season the words “Happy Holidays” have been said to me in department stores. In fact, I haven’t received one Merry Christmas!
Now, the ridiculous notion that this all has to do with a desire to be inclusive of other religions doesn’t hold water. Why must you be sensitive to other religions if you must be insensitive to mine!
Let’s be honest. We all know that major department stores and businesses all over America have not received an overwhelming number of complaints from Jewish people, Muslims, or other religions that they were offended by the term “Merry Christmas.”
The removal of Merry Christmas has nothing to do with inclusiveness. Using the words “Merry Christmas” has never hurt their business before and it wouldn’t now.
For me there is no question that deep down it is yet another attempt to remove the NAME—the name of Christ Jesus, from the minds and hearts of our culture. It is the suppression of truth Paul talks about in Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress (push down, stifle) the truth by their wickedness,”
The name of Christ in the word Christmas reminds us at least once a year in America what the real reason for the season is! That God sent Jesus to save us from our sins, and that He is the Christ, the anointed King, Prophet and Priest!
Christmas time is a celebration of His birthday! When it’s my birthday you don’t say to me, “Happy special day for you know who!” Or, “Happy, happy day for what’s his name!” You say, “Happy birthday, Jeff!”
Isn’t it funny that we don’t see these same department stores trying to rename the Jewish holiday Hanukkah lest non-Jewish people are offended. I don’t see them seeking to rename the Muslim observance of Ramadan so that non-Muslims are not offended. No, only CHRISTmas.
If you take the name of Christ out of Christmas, you have gutted it of its entire meaning. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. Christmas holds the magic that it does because of the miraculous wonder God performed for us on that first Christmas morn!
Children don’t hang holiday stockings, nor do people cut down holiday trees. We don’t go holiday shopping, nor do we sing holiday carols. We don’t hang holiday lights nor lay our holiday decorations. We don’t invite people over for a holiday dinner, nor do we open holiday presents!
We don’t say to our kids, “What would you like for the happy holidays?” And Santa does not say, “Ho ho ho, happy holidays!”
The classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” would lose all its punch if George Bailey at the end screamed with all his might, “Happy Holidays!”
I can tell you that sometime between my childhood and the present time, American cultural elites began an undeclared but real war against Christmas.
So I rebel. I refuse to say the meaningless words, “Happy Holidays.” I stick with the name of Jesus, who is called Christ! Because “there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”—Acts 4:12
And for those who hate his name, you might want to rethink your position. Because the day is coming with “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”—Phil 2:9-10
So let’s throw Christmas parties and sing Christmas carols. Let’s hit back against the war on Christmas and wish everyone from the Atlantic to the Pacific a very merry Christmas!