What’s in a name?

‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet’

This couplet was one of many that I committed to memory for my O Level English Literature exam. Juliet is pining for Romeo and lamenting that he is a Montague – her family’s bitter enemies. On one level she is right, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Yet she knew that as a Capulet she would never be permitted to marry Romeo who was a Montague, such was the animosity between their respective families. The fact is names, especially names given to people, matter.

Christmas is a season of names; names given to Jesus. That is the most common name we use for him and was the name that Joseph was instructed by the angel to give to him. The name Jesus comes through Latin and Greek transliteration from the Hebrew name Yeshua (Joshua or Jeshua) and means rescuer or deliverer, clearly indicating his mission to become the saviour of the world.

One of the classic Christmas Bible readings is Isaiah 9:6–7 which says:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

In this prophecy given some 700 years before Jesus’ birth we are told that he will be called:

  • Wonderful Counsellor – his wisdom and guidance is beyond that of any human advisor
  • Mighty God – his strength and power is unrivaled in the entire universe. In fact he is the source of all the energy throughout the cosmos.
  • Everlasting Father – his love and mercy is eternally unending. His grace is matchless.
  • Prince of Peace – he offers reconciliation to us even while we were his enemies.
  • Eternal King – his reign is just and righteous and endures for all generations.

These are only a few of the names and titles that are attributed to Jesus throughout the bible. Each is rich with significance, directing us towards aspects of his character and nature. Each helps us to see that Jesus is so much more than a cute little baby snuggled in a manger. Each provokes us to worship our peerless saviour.

Take time this Christmas to meditate on the names of Jesus and bow your knee in worship to Him whose name is above every other name in heaven and on earth.

 

This blog post featured in the November 2016 edition of Lifelines

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