“There’s Something About That Name”
Eve of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ
“After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus. There's just something about that Name. And yet it's helpful to remember that it was a very popular name in 1st century Judea, the time and place where Jesus was born. His name wasn't unusual. It didn't make him stand out.
In the English-speaking world today, it's pretty rare to meet someone named Jesus. But in the Spanish-speaking world, the name Jesús is commonplace. Jesus' culture was more like that. That’s why people needed to call him Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph. There were lots of other Jesus's around.
But, even though it was common, "Jesus" was not an arbitrary name for the Messiah and Savior of the World. It was "the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21). When the Word of God became flesh, God chose the name Jesus for a reason.
In Hebrew, the name Jesus was "Jehoshua," or in English, Joshua. When people read stories in the Old Testament about Joshua, son of Nun, the name was the same as the son of Mary.* Joshua from the Old Testament was important because he helped to deliver God’s people into their ancestral homeland. Joshua was a national and religious hero. He led Israel after the death of Moses. He guided them into the inheritance God prepared for them. (In the Old Testament, this process was violent and complicated in many ways, but let’s set that aside for the sake of this metaphor.)
Apart from its ties to the character Joshua in the Old Testament, the name Yehoshua has a special meaning in Hebrew. It means “Yahweh saves.” Yahweh is often written as "the LORD" or "the LORD God." It is God's proper name throughout the Hebrew Bible. So, Jesus’ Name points to God as the source of our salvation and hope. Only God can deliver and rescue the people God created. God had to come meet us to save us. Yahweh God had to become flesh and live and die and rise from the dead in order to save us. Only God could do it!
Even though he was equal to God as the Second Person of the Trinity, the human Jesus didn’t exalt himself. He didn’t consolidate power. He didn’t accept Satan’s temptations in the desert by becoming an earthly king or showing off his miraculous powers. Instead, he humbled himself. He was a poor, traveling teacher who had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).
He lived without sin. He followed the ways of God even when they were unpopular. Jesus believed with every fiber of his being that Yahweh God saves. We can’t save ourselves. Only God is able to save us. So God became a human being and suffered death on a cross so that we don’t have to suffer any more violence, pain, or death.
And the Father highly exalts the Son, giving him “a name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [Yahweh], to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9b-11).
Jesus’ Name is special and powerful. In it, we have the whole Good News summed up: Yahweh God SAVES. We didn’t do anything to deserve it, and we cannot earn it. God is just good to us. There is power in the Name of Jesus to break the chains of death and sin. As we begin this new year, if you remember nothing else, remember that Jesus is the Lord and Jesus is our Savior. “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name!”
There’s Something About That Name
Words: Gloria (b. 1942) and William Gaither (b. 1936)
Music: William J. Gaither
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
There’s just something about that name!
Master, Savior, Jesus!
Like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
Let all heaven and earth proclaim;
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
but there’s something about that name!
Note: Judeans in the first century probably spoke Aramaic as their primary language, and the name Jesus translates as "Yeshua" in Aramaic.
Image Credit: http://revjeffhood.com/the-reincarnation-of-jesus-christ/