WHAT’S IN A NAME?
“When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived.
“Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took Him up to Jerusalem to offer Him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.” Luke 2:21-24.
What’s in a name?
In western culture we pay little attention to the meaning of the names we give our children. We like the sound of them; they have some family significance; or we name our children after some person who has meaning for us. Some people even invent names just to be different. In some cultures children are often named after the circumstances of their birth.
Both the parents of John the Baptist and of Jesus were careful to name their babies according to God’s instruction via the angel Gabriel.
In Hebrew thought, a name was a prophetic utterance of character. In the case of John and Jesus, their earthly mission was prophesied in their names. “John” – the anglicised form of the Hebrew, “Yochanan”, means “Jehovah is gracious”. It was John’s task to be the forerunner of the one who would bring “grace and truth” (John 1:17) from the Father. Jesus (Yeshua) was to be the Saviour of the world.
Perhaps one’s mind immediately strays to a significant personality in the Old Testament – Jacob, Isaacs’ son. He was the second of twin sons. He was born clutching the heel of his brother and was given the name Jacob, meaning “one who follows”. His character, however, followed another meaning, “supplanter” or “cheat”, and he lived up to his name until his encounter with the angel of the Lord at Peniel when his name was changed to “Israel” meaning “prince with God”.
When Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory (Exodus 33:18), God responded by saying, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.” (Exodus 33:19 – NIV). What a moment for Moses! He was to be given a private and intimate revelation of the deepest depths of the heart of God.
“Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His name, the Lord. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Exodus 34:6 NIV.
The angel Gabriel announced to the shepherds that a Saviour had been born in Bethlehem; “He is Christ the Lord.” If we recognise that it was to the second person of the Trinity that God the Father assigned the earth, then it was the pre-incarnate Jesus who revealed Himself to Moses. To Him was given the name above every name – Jesus – to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11- NIV).
Enshrined in that name was everything that He was, everything He came to do and everything He was to be on the earth and in the lives of people who believe in Him. When we address Him as the Lord Jesus Christ, we attribute to Him and affirm all the offices He fulfils – absolute Sovereign, Saviour and Anointed One.
Jesus is the name in which we find salvation (Acts 4:12); shelter (Proverbs 18:10); forgiveness (Psalm 25:11); provision (Genesis 22:14); healing (Exodus 15:26); peace (Ephesians 2:14); righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21); and the comfort and nearness of God’s presence (Matthew 1:23).