What’s in a name?

July 30, 2008 | No comments yet

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By: Dennis Bates

One of my favorite Gaither songs begins “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name.” That’s so true. Names are important.


Think about your own name for a minute. It almost defines you. If you ask somebody who they are, more times than not they will respond by telling you their name. I used to work with a woman who answered the phone by giving her name and adding Attorney at Law so quickly that for months most people thought that was her last name. She might have been just a little insecure, but that’s another story.


Jesus is a derivative of Joshua, who saved the nation of Israel by leading it across the Jordon River and becoming a fierce warrior to fight its battles. Matthew 1:21 tells us that the baby in Bethlehem was named Jesus because he was the New Testament Joshua who would save all people from their sins.


The Old Testament uses lots of different names for the Messiah. Genesis talks about the Angel of Jehovah, angel meaning messenger here. It talks about the coming of Shiloh, which means peacemaker, and about the stone of Israel, which gets turned into cornerstone in Matthew. Samuel refers to Jesus as the Rock of My Salvation, the Light of the Morning, and the tender Grass that springs out of the ground after a rain.


Job calls Jesus the Daysman, which means mediator or arbitrar, and the Psalms have so many names for Him I couldn’t list them all here. A few include: Glory, The Rock and Fortress, The Restorer, The Shepherd, The Lord Jehovah who is might in battle and the First Born. Isaiah calls Jesus the Wonderful, Counselor, the Might god, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


The New Testament has even more names for Jesus. Nearly every book refers to Jesus as Lord. Someone who is called Lord is a person to be looked up to, worshipped and followed. Therefore, if Jesus is our Lord, we are secondary, subservient and unimportant when compared to Him. He gets credit for everything.


Matthew refers to Jesus as the Son of God and the Son of Man, which establishes his dual nature as both fully God and fully Man, a difficult but important concept. Matthew also calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the last book of the Bible, Revelation, calls Jesus The root of Jesse, the Offspring of David, The Bright Morning Star and the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.


All of these names tell us some little piece of who Jesus really was and is, but maybe the most important passage comes in Matthew 16: 13-17, when Jesus asks the disciples, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Of course, Peter responded “You are he Christ the Son of the living God.” And Peter was commended for his answer and told the church would be built upon him.


The different names are all interesting and helpful, but the question remains for all of us: Who do YOU say He is? Unless your answer is the same one Peter gave, you have missed the point. Don’t miss it.

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