Three Names of Jesus
In his book He Shall Be Called, Robert Morgan discusses the importance of names. Our name distinguishes us from other people, and gives us our identity. Experts that study names have found that a name is usually developed from one of four different criteria:
· Locality: Examples are Appleby, Woods, and West.
· Occupation: Examples are Thomas Cook, Baker, Farmer, and Smith.
· Father’s given name: Son of John >Johnson, McKune > MacEwan (Pitlochry)
· Personal characteristics: James Strong, David Friend
Maybe you are now thinking about your name and its origins, what your ancestors were like, and what the name reveals about you and your family. Names are important, and understanding that, it should be no surprise that Jesus had many names throughout the Bible. In fact, Robert Morgan states that he found 350 names of Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. His book shares 150 of these names and what they mean to us today, and I would like to share three of these with you this evening, as we prepare to start the New Year.
Let’s start by turning to Matthew 23:37 and reading together.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Maybe you have raised chickens or have seen a mother hen with her chicks all together in the yard. The chicks stay close, and if a dog barks or there is some threat, the hen fluffs out her body and spreads her wings, and all of the chicks rush underneath where they are safe and protected. Jesus referred to himself as a mother hen. When we feel threatened, when life barks at us and presses in on us, we can rush under his protection and know that we are safe. Jesus is watching out for us. He cares for us and will shelter us.
This is not the first place in the Bible where we see this metaphor. Feeling oppressed by his foes, David wrote in Psalm 17:
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who assail me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
In Psalm 57, David wrote of his being pursued by Saul. In verse 1 he wrote:
1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
And, in Psalm 91 we have this promise when we face times of tragedy:
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
Years ago, when the Cold War began, parts of the world fell under what became known as the communist Iron Curtain. China was said to be behind the Bamboo Curtain. Often finding themselves in danger, missionaries in China referred to their protective state as being under the Feather Curtain – the protection of Jesus. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Jesus protects us as a mother hen.
We understand that the Hebrew nation was the chosen nation of God under the old covenant. This is explained for us in the book of Ephesians. Let’s turn to Ephesians 2 and read verses 11 through 14, where we will see our next name for Jesus.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
In this passage, Paul teaches that Jesus came for both the Jews and the Gentiles. Once we are in Christ, Jesus becomes that cement of peace that binds us together, regardless of our history or cultural differences. It is important for us to remember that Jesus is our peace, and that peace is found in Him.
In Genesis, the sin that Adam and Eve committed not only separated them from God, but also created a barrier between the two of them, opening the door for blame, resentment, and division. This was also seen in the lives of their children. Cain’s problem was not so much with Able, but with his relationship with God.
Think about your own relationships. Do you find yourself at odds with friends, your spouse, your parents, or your children? How is your relationship with your Lord? Has sin crept in and hurt your relationship between you and Jesus? Are you praying and studying the Bible as you should? Very often, if we are at odds with those around us, we should look first to our relationship with Jesus. If we omit Jesus from our lives, we cannot experience the peace that we need. Jesus is our peace, and it is he that binds our hearts together in love.
He Who Made Me Well
Finally, let’s turn to John 5:11. Here Jesus visited the Pool of Bethesda, and healed a lame man on the Sabbath. Several Jews were questioning the healed man, trying to find out who it was that healed him. Verse 11 contains the man’s response, and the last name of Jesus we will study this evening:
But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
From this passage, there is little indication that the lame man even knew who Jesus was before he was healed. There is almost no indication that he was all that appreciative after he was healed. It was not until later, when Jesus saw the man again at the temple, that the man understood who it was that had healed him. Jesus took this opportunity to caution the man in verse 14:
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
You would think that someone who had been lame for 38 years would show more gratitude, reverence and obedience to his healer. It should be easy for us to recognize that being spiritually lost is so much worse than being lame. Yet how often do we act as this man did? How often do we really thank Jesus for what he has done for us? More importantly, how do our lives bear evidence of our gratitude? Brothers and sisters, let’s make sure that in 2006, we not only remember that Jesus is “he who made us well”, but that we live obedient lives of service that are evidence of our gratitude.
Names are important. Understanding the many names of Jesus help to strengthen our relationship with him, and deepen our understanding of His love for us.
After Jesus sent out the 72 disciples in the limited commission, they returned to Jesus full of excitement and reports of demons submitting in the name of Jesus. However, Jesus reminded them of something more important, in verses 19 and 20 of Luke 10.
“19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The Hebrew writer also reminds us of this in Hebrews 12:22-23:
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
Here we told that it is the members of the church, those who have put on Christ, whose names are written in heaven. Jesus knows us by name. He knows what we are like. He knows everything about us. He loves us, and died for us, and was raised again so that we could be part of his saved body, the church.
Are you part of that saved body? Have you put on your Lord in baptism? Satan can whisper a thousand reasons why you should not get your life right with God tonight. You know, and God knows, that there really is no reason for you to start 2006 apart from God. If you need to come to Jesus tonight, won’t you speak the name of Jesus in confession of his Lordship, as we stand together and sing.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mt 23:37). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ps 17:8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ps 57:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ps 91:4). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (2 Th 3:3). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Eph 2:11). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Jn 5:11). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Jn 5:14). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Lk 10:18). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Heb 12:22). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.