22nd October 2016

What’s in a Name?

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”
Philippians 2:9 (ESV)

Books abound that provide naming suggestions for babies. And generally the meaning of the name is given, too. In my case, Philip means ‘a lover of horses’. I guess horses are OK – but I can’t say I’m a lover of the animal. So in this instance, the name doesn’t fit the description of the person.

However, no such problem existed for Mary and Joseph. No need for them to thumb through the latest edition of 1001 names for new-born Jewish babies. When Mary received the angelic visit to be informed about her impending pregnancy she was told what to call her firstborn son. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). So, no doubts and deliberations there.

The name actually means ‘God saves’. So, as Jesus is the Saviour of the world, the choice was exactly right. But there is more to the name of Jesus. Matthew recalls a prophecy from Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). And that name is also correct. Jesus was God – and he did dwell with man for around 30 years.

Matthew also tells us about the encounter of King Herod and the religious leaders of the day. “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born” (Matthew 2:3, 4).

In Greek, the name Christ is Christos from a root meaning ‘anointed’. So, the name Jesus Christ is the same as Jesus the Anointed – the one set apart with a special anointing from God. Numerous New Testament scriptures point to that special calling. For example, “…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). And there are others.

Our current church festival is based on the theme “And 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). Jesus was given a name that perfectly fits his nature, mission and exalted position. But then what else would you expect from the perfect eternal God?

Father, whenever we hear mention of a name, it conjures up the character of that person. Thank you that when we hear Jesus’ name we can rejoice in what he accomplished for all humankind. And it is in that glorious name we pray.

Study by Philip Stevens


philip StevensAbout the Author:
Philip Stevens attends the Great Baddow Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK (near Chelmsford).

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed Church
High Street
Great Baddow

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508-498165
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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