Jun 272014

JesusI hope you have been enjoying this ‘names of Jesus’ series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Even though some of the names have had similar meanings, they have all revealed slightly different facets of this most wonderful character. This central figure of history is certainly worth studying. Many of these names are titles given to Jesus, or names He has called Himself, but this week we are going to look at His actual name – Jesus.

The name “Jesus” was chosen by God Himself and proclaimed to His mother Mary and earthly father Joseph by a heavenly angel:

(To Joseph)”… and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:21)

(To Mary)”…. behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus”. (Luke 1:31)

This is His primary name. In the gospels this name is used over 500 times and 909 times altogether in the New Testament. Of all the names, this is the name most endeared and loved by His followers.

To know what the name of Jesus means to a person, see what their reaction is when you mention it. For some it is just a swear word, but for many His name is precious above all others.

One of the ways we express our love for His name is in song. There have been wonderful hymns and songs written over the years about the name of Jesus. I have listed a few below which immediately come to mind, but if you have any suggestions feel free to put them in the comments.

  • How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! (John Newton 1774) (Full lyrics below)
  • At the name of Jesus (Caroline M Noel 1870)
  • All hail the power of Jesus’ name! (Edward Perronet, 1780)
  • Praise the name of Jesus (Roy Hicks Jr, 1976)
  • No other name but the name of Jesus (Don Moen, 1993)
  • There is power in the name of Jesus (Noel Richards, 1989)
  • Jesus, Holy and anointed one “your name is like honey on my lips” (John Barnett, 1988)
  • Break every chain – There is power in the name of Jesus (Jesus culture)

The name Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means Saviour. It is the name that gives the essence of His life because He came to this earth with one purpose – to save us from our sins.

There are many similarities between Joshua and Jesus. Joshua led the people from the wilderness into the promised land; Jesus did this spiritually. Joshua succeeded Moses the lawgiver; Jesus succeeded the law. Joshua and Jesus both interceded for the people etc.

Jesus of course far surpassed Joshua’s feint shadow. Joshua was just a taste of a saviour whereas Jesus is the full banquet, as Peter declared in the book of Acts:

“….there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”. (Acts 4:12)

As a couple of the above songs suggest, there is also power in the name of Jesus. Since ancient times people could speak or act ‘in the name of’ someone because the name would represent authority and power. Decrees could be issued and oral messages delivered in the name of a king, for example. For christians, the name of Jesus Christ is the most wonderful and most powerful name in existence.

In Psalm 72, although King David was mostly writing about his son Solomon, he also speaks prophetically of Jesus Christ. Verse 17 says, “May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!.”
Jesus Christ has given christians the right and authority to use His name. This is the equivalent of being given power of attorney. Legally, power of attorney is the authority to act on another person’s behalf, at their request. It is Jesus’ authority allowing believers to take action on His behalf.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23, 24)
The name of Jesus Christ is not a magic word. The power is not in simply repeating the name (Just ask the 7 sons of Sceva in Acts 19!), but in understanding and believing all that the name of Jesus signifies. His name represents all of His finished work on the cross, fulfilling God’s plan of redemption and salvation, victory over sin, death, and over all the powers of darkness. When the name of Jesus Christ is invoked, it carries all of the power and distinction God gave to it. God raised Jesus from the dead, elevated Him to His right hand, and gave Jesus a name above “every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:21)
Philippians declares, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:9-10)

I’ll leave you this week with the words of that great hymn, listed earlier, by John Newton. Let them stir your soul as you think about the wonderful name:

1 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
and drives away our fear.

2 It makes the wounded spirit whole
and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.

3 O Jesus, shepherd, guardian, friend,
my Prophet, Priest, and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

4 How weak the effort of my heart,
how cold my warmest thought;
but when I see you as you are,
I’ll praise you as I ought.

5 Till then I would your love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of your name
refresh my soul in death.

(John Newton 1774)

 June 27, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus 2 Responses »
Jun 202014

Arm of the LordWe know of course that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and does not have physical arms or body parts. But the bible will often use human aspects (such as physical appearance) to help us understand God’s qualities and different aspects of His character.

There are a number of verses in the bible which speak of God’s arms:

You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.” (Psalm 89:13)

Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” (Psalm 98:1)

The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)

I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.” (Isaiah 63:5)

As Jesus is the physical manifestation of God, He is the one who displays God’s arm. The arm is a symbol of a person’s power. It signifies strength, control and authority. An example of this authority is in the modern day phrase, the ‘long arm of the law’. Jesus stated that all authority had been given to Him (Matthew 28:18) and the book of Revelation shows that He will yield all power and defeat all enemies. (Another physical description of that power is that everything will be under His feet, signifying subservience and subordination).

As we have seen in recent blogs, the bible clearly states the appearance of Jesus to mankind twice, firstly at His initial incarnation approximately 2000 years ago, and secondly at His still awaited for second coming at the end of the age. In their own unique ways they both show strength. His second coming will display the power and authority that was just mentioned, however His first appearance may not at first glance seem nearly so dramatic. Born as a baby in a dirty stable, in a poverty stricken 3rdworld country, He came as the suffering servant, described in Isaiah 53. The power that was demonstrated was in the setting aside of his divine attributes (Colossians 2) and in the enduring of the weight of sin for us all. To have all that power and yet set it aside is strength indeed. This is the ‘right hand’ which is spoken of in the above verses, which worked salvation. Salvation is the outworking of that power, which made a way for us to approach a Holy God through Him.

Isaiah 53 starts off with a question:

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1)

The answer to that question is us! The arm of the Lord has been revealed to us who have experienced His wonderful salvation.

Arms of course signify strength for the fight, but they are also used to embrace. God is not distant and aloof but desires to embrace us. The picture of Jesus on the cross with His arms stretched wide is a graphic picture of His love for us.

Finally, His arms are strong enough to carry us through every situation we find ourselves in. That is comforting to know!

 June 20, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jun 132014

anointed oneOne of the names of Jesus we see regularly is ‘Christ’. We use the name Jesus Christ so often that we can think that Christ is His surname. In reality His name would simply have been Jesus Bar-Joseph (son of Joseph). Why is He called Jesus Christ so often and what is the significance of the name ‘Christ’?

The meaning of “Christ” originates from the Old Testament. God promised the ancient Israelites that a Messiah would come to deliver them from their sins. The idea of the Messiah is carried over into the New Testament with the title ‘Christ’. The Greek word Christos (Christ) is the translation of the Hebrew term “Mashiach”, which is where we get the word “Messiah” from. These words all mean “to anoint”. So when the New Testament speaks of Jesus Christ, it is saying “Jesus the Messiah,” which literally means, “Jesus the Anointed One.”

In Old Testament times, people were anointed when they were called to the offices of prophet, priest, and king. For example, Samuel anointed Saul when he first became king in 1 Samuel 10:1: “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel?”

David was anointed in the same way along with the priests, as we can see in Exodus 28:41: “And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.” Prophets too were anointed: “And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.” (1 Kings 19:16).

In a sense, anyone in the Old Testament who was anointed and set apart for a task for God was a sort of messiah as they received a special anointing.

The people of Israel however were looking for the Messiah, someone who would perfectly combine the roles of prophet, priest and king. Sadly, after waiting for centuries, they somehow missed him.

It is amazing to think that when Jesus began His earthly ministry, very few recognised who He was even though He continued to walk in that anointing by healing the sick and raising the dead. He wasn’t even subtle. He started his ministry revealing His fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy with the proclamation in Luke 4:17-21: “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The anointing of Jesus was the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:38 it says:

“….how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

This is also prophesied in Isaiah 11 where it says: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him”. (v2).

Jesus is the only one able to function in the fullness of the Spirit: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”. (Colossians 1:19).

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. (Colossians 2:9).

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (Hebrews 1:9).

As Jesus’ representatives we too have been anointed with the Holy Spirit; as part of Christ’s body and being connected to Him, we now walk in His anointing: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”. (Ephesians 1:13).

Many people today have positive things to say about Jesus as a model of virtue, a great teacher, and so on, but they stop short of saying He is Messiah. This is the great divide between Christians and unbelievers. Only one who has been born again can confess that Jesus is the Christ. Can you?

 June 13, 2014  Posted by at 12:05 pm Names of Jesus 2 Responses »
Jun 062014

Only begotten sonIf you were in Sunday school more than twenty years or so ago, it is highly likely that you would have learned the most famous verse there is in the following words:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3 v 16 KJV)

You may have wondered what the term ‘only begotten’ actually meant. The modern translations state ‘only son’ but this is not strictly true because God has many sons (people are referred to in some places as sons, as are angels). It is not a word used nowadays, it is not a modern word and its meaning can cause confusion. For example, people such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses will use it to claim that Jesus is not equal to God, a concept we have refuted many times already. It only appears 5 times in the bible in total, but I thought it was well worth having a look at to clear some of the confusion.

“Only begotten” is translated from the Greek word ‘monogenes’. The first part of the word is quite straightforward and recognisable: Mono means ‘alone’, ‘single’ or ‘one’ and is found in words such as monologue, monochrome etc. If you add the word ‘genes’ to “mono” it becomes “pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a relationship”. This meaning is clearer when you consider Hebrews 11:17: Isaac is referred to as Abraham’s “only begotten son”. Abraham obviously had more than one son but it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that warrants the use of this word ‘monogenes’. He was the only son by Sarah and the only son of the covenant.

Another variation of this definition is “pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind’. This is why John uses this word in chapter 3 verse 16. Here he is trying to demonstrate Jesus as being the son of God, uniquely God’s son. In other words, Jesus shares the same divine nature as God, as opposed to believers like us who are called ‘sons of God’ by adoption. Jesus is the ‘one and only’.

Much of the trouble we have over these terms is due to the fact that we will never be able to adequately describe God. He is Indescribable. The only reference points we have are the ones that God has given to us Himself. God gave us the example of a father and son to help us try to understand the relationship between the first and second persons of the trinity, but we sometimes go too far and try to attach other aspects of this relationship which simply aren’t there. God has revealed as much as we need to understand and we should leave it at that. As human beings we invariably try to understand more than is good for us. This is what often gets us into trouble and how cults are formed.

Let’s not get bogged down by words or by trying to grasp concepts beyond our reach. Instead let us enjoy the revelation that God has shown us of Himself in Jesus and of the rescue plan for hopeless cases like us who have rebelled against Him. The “only begotten” has ‘begat’ many after Him – we are included in that number!

 June 6, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus 2 Responses »