The Name of Jesus

New Year’s Day marks the day the baby Jesus was circumcised and given His name.  The name of Jesus, at which every knee shall bow, confesses His identity and His purpose.  In fact, though some people claim Jesus is just a moral example, His very name confesses the Gospel.  Let’s let Rev. William Weedon tell you about the name of Jesus:

You can’t read very far along in the Sacred Scriptures before you notice what a big thing this “naming” is – Adam, naming the beasties in Eden; God changing people’s names – Abram to Abraham; God instructing His priests, as in today’s first reading, in how to put His name upon the people “and I will bless them.” Names in the Bible are anything but a distinguishing tag so you don’t get Johnny confused with Jimmy. They are revelatory – they disclose a person’s proper relation to God Himself or God’s own relation to people.

So the big deal of the name given THIS day, only name given under heaven by which we must be saved: Jesus. For this name is shared by God and Man – He who is one person in two natures bears this name and it discloses the innermost ache of the divine heart: to save. Jesus means Yahweh saves.

His desire is to save you, to rescue you, to deliver you from bondage to sin, from all that makes your life bitter and miserable by your own doing or from that of others. “Save” in Greek implies also “heal.” He wants to heal you, to restore you, to bring you into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

For, as St. Paul in today’s epistle points out: “before faith came we were held captive under the law.” Satan has us by rights. And the law – that immutable expression of the divine will for all human life – well, all it could do was inform us of what we were not – and thus accuse us for not living as we ought. The Law condemns – not because the Law is bad, but because the Law is good, and we sadly, by birth are not.

But good news! Yahweh saves.

via Weedon’s Blog.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    “Oh, the sweet names of Jesus! He is called my law against the Law, my sin against sin, my death against death. Translated, it means that He is my righteousness, my life, my everlasting salvation. For this reason was He made the law of the Law, the sin of sin, the death of death, that He might redeem me from the curse of the Law. He permitted the Law to accuse Him, sin to condemn Him, and death to take Him, to abolish the Law, to condemn sin, and to destroy death for me.” – Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, verse 19.

  • Tom Hering

    “Oh, the sweet names of Jesus! He is called my law against the Law, my sin against sin, my death against death. Translated, it means that He is my righteousness, my life, my everlasting salvation. For this reason was He made the law of the Law, the sin of sin, the death of death, that He might redeem me from the curse of the Law. He permitted the Law to accuse Him, sin to condemn Him, and death to take Him, to abolish the Law, to condemn sin, and to destroy death for me.” – Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, verse 19.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know why, but sermons on the naming of Christ especially on New Years always seem flat to me. I think part of it is they tend to avoid talking about what just happened to Jesus. And there were plenty of people named Jesus. I have a bartender named Jesus, they guy can never remember my name, but he always remembers my beer, and I see him once a month at best.
    To me it is what just happened to Jesus that gets at the nut of the Gospel. It is in his circumcision that the earthy issues of the Gospel are handled. Here flesh and manhood are handled. Here is a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Here in Christ’s Circumcision a baby 8 days old begins to fulfill the law for us. He points to what must be done in the end. He sheds blood for us for the first time. And the blood the old covenant required, becomes the Blood of the New Testament that gives us life. He makes a down payment for our sin. And there it is, bleeding manhood in hand, He shows us what his name requires of Him if He is to live up to it for our sake.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know why, but sermons on the naming of Christ especially on New Years always seem flat to me. I think part of it is they tend to avoid talking about what just happened to Jesus. And there were plenty of people named Jesus. I have a bartender named Jesus, they guy can never remember my name, but he always remembers my beer, and I see him once a month at best.
    To me it is what just happened to Jesus that gets at the nut of the Gospel. It is in his circumcision that the earthy issues of the Gospel are handled. Here flesh and manhood are handled. Here is a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Here in Christ’s Circumcision a baby 8 days old begins to fulfill the law for us. He points to what must be done in the end. He sheds blood for us for the first time. And the blood the old covenant required, becomes the Blood of the New Testament that gives us life. He makes a down payment for our sin. And there it is, bleeding manhood in hand, He shows us what his name requires of Him if He is to live up to it for our sake.

  • S Bauer

    “His desire is to save you?” “He wants to heal you?”

    These statements may be true enough in themselves but I hope I am not being hyper-critical in suggesting they do not quite do the trick. I hope there was a more forceful – a more “indicative” – proclamation of the Gospel somewhere in the text.

    To focus on the name OR on the circumcision is to make a false dichotomy, I believe. The two things happen together. In my view the name “happens” to Jesus just as much as the circumcision does. The name provides the meaning to the circumcision and the circumcision provides the fulfilling of the name.

  • S Bauer

    “His desire is to save you?” “He wants to heal you?”

    These statements may be true enough in themselves but I hope I am not being hyper-critical in suggesting they do not quite do the trick. I hope there was a more forceful – a more “indicative” – proclamation of the Gospel somewhere in the text.

    To focus on the name OR on the circumcision is to make a false dichotomy, I believe. The two things happen together. In my view the name “happens” to Jesus just as much as the circumcision does. The name provides the meaning to the circumcision and the circumcision provides the fulfilling of the name.

  • mark†

    Names in Biblical thought are important, the name of God stands for His entire person. God on several occasions come to a women and tells her that she will (future tense) conceive and will bear a son (Genesis 18:10; Judges 13:3; 2 Kings 4:16; Luke 1:13; Luke 1:31).

    In Genesis 17:21, “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Isaac is named. What’s in a name? The name stands for the person. To be saved by God’s name is to be saved by God. Next year. She is not pregnant, yet the child has been named. It is a person though not yet conceived. And this only makes sense as God is the author of all life. Life begins in the mind of God. Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” The first expression of life is when the sperm meets the egg.

    “Notice that they are to believe “on his name”. The ‘name’ meant much more to people of antiquity than it does to us. For us it is a mere appellation, a convenient label whereby we distinguish one person from another. We ask, ‘What’s in a name?’ and answer (with Shakespeare), ‘that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ When, for example, the Psalmist spoke of loving the name of God (Ps 5:11), or when he prayed, ‘The name of the God of Jacob set thee upon high’ (Ps. 20:1), he did not simply the uttering of the name. He was thinking of all that ‘God’ means. The name in some way expressed the whole person. To believe ‘on the name’ of the Word, then means to trust the person of the Word. It is to believe in Him as He is. It is to believe that God is the God we see revealed in the Word and to put our trust in that God. This is more than simple credence. It is not believing that what He says is true, but trusting Him as a person.”

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1971. Pp. Xi, 936. @ p. 99.

  • mark†

    Names in Biblical thought are important, the name of God stands for His entire person. God on several occasions come to a women and tells her that she will (future tense) conceive and will bear a son (Genesis 18:10; Judges 13:3; 2 Kings 4:16; Luke 1:13; Luke 1:31).

    In Genesis 17:21, “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Isaac is named. What’s in a name? The name stands for the person. To be saved by God’s name is to be saved by God. Next year. She is not pregnant, yet the child has been named. It is a person though not yet conceived. And this only makes sense as God is the author of all life. Life begins in the mind of God. Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” The first expression of life is when the sperm meets the egg.

    “Notice that they are to believe “on his name”. The ‘name’ meant much more to people of antiquity than it does to us. For us it is a mere appellation, a convenient label whereby we distinguish one person from another. We ask, ‘What’s in a name?’ and answer (with Shakespeare), ‘that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ When, for example, the Psalmist spoke of loving the name of God (Ps 5:11), or when he prayed, ‘The name of the God of Jacob set thee upon high’ (Ps. 20:1), he did not simply the uttering of the name. He was thinking of all that ‘God’ means. The name in some way expressed the whole person. To believe ‘on the name’ of the Word, then means to trust the person of the Word. It is to believe in Him as He is. It is to believe that God is the God we see revealed in the Word and to put our trust in that God. This is more than simple credence. It is not believing that what He says is true, but trusting Him as a person.”

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1971. Pp. Xi, 936. @ p. 99.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It’s not that Weedon here says anything I find wrong. It is all true about the name and all and that it was meant to convey gospel.
    But here are a couple things to chew on. No one in Nazareth was particularly impressed with the name. There were many people in Jesus day that were named Jesus, hence having to distinguish him as Jesus of Nazareth and so forth. And it is true that a name was more than an appellation in the Bible. It is just as true to say though, that the app elation of Jesus is not then the sum total of what it means that every knee will bow to his name.
    So you can preach on the name and Weedon does as fine a job as anyone I have seen do this. He uses it to preach gospel, and I think he does a good job of using his name as a pretext for preaching gospel. But I don’t think it would have convinced a first century Jew. The fact that he was given the name by an angel of the Lord etc. Is worth noting. That is special, and gives special significance to Jesus Christ being named that.
    And perhaps no one would have been impressed with his circumcision either, that was no more unique than his name. But I always gravitate to that, because that is where Gospel was happening. It is a great opportunity to preach the incarnation and what it meant. A great opportunity to show that he is man. a great opportunity to talk about the transition that is taking place between the Old Testament and New Testament. A great opportunity to talk about the sacramental significance of circumcision in the Old Testament, and how that translates into the importance of the New Testament Sacraments. And I think that is too often a missed opportunity.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It’s not that Weedon here says anything I find wrong. It is all true about the name and all and that it was meant to convey gospel.
    But here are a couple things to chew on. No one in Nazareth was particularly impressed with the name. There were many people in Jesus day that were named Jesus, hence having to distinguish him as Jesus of Nazareth and so forth. And it is true that a name was more than an appellation in the Bible. It is just as true to say though, that the app elation of Jesus is not then the sum total of what it means that every knee will bow to his name.
    So you can preach on the name and Weedon does as fine a job as anyone I have seen do this. He uses it to preach gospel, and I think he does a good job of using his name as a pretext for preaching gospel. But I don’t think it would have convinced a first century Jew. The fact that he was given the name by an angel of the Lord etc. Is worth noting. That is special, and gives special significance to Jesus Christ being named that.
    And perhaps no one would have been impressed with his circumcision either, that was no more unique than his name. But I always gravitate to that, because that is where Gospel was happening. It is a great opportunity to preach the incarnation and what it meant. A great opportunity to show that he is man. a great opportunity to talk about the transition that is taking place between the Old Testament and New Testament. A great opportunity to talk about the sacramental significance of circumcision in the Old Testament, and how that translates into the importance of the New Testament Sacraments. And I think that is too often a missed opportunity.

  • http://www.ocapologist.com Andy

    “Names in the Bible are anything but a distinguishing tag so you don’t get Johnny confused with Jimmy. They are revelatory – they disclose a person’s proper relation to God Himself or God’s own relation to people.”

    Do you think this is still true today? Since our names still have meaning, even if we don’t personally know the meaning, are they still revelatory. For instance, if you look up the meaning of your name, has it pretty much fit the bill as a description for who you actually are, or not?

    I know that in many cultures parents still painstakingly pick a child’s name, not by how it sounds, or how unique it is, but in the hope that the meaning of the name will become a reality in the life of their child. I know the Chinese definitely still do this.

  • http://www.ocapologist.com Andy

    “Names in the Bible are anything but a distinguishing tag so you don’t get Johnny confused with Jimmy. They are revelatory – they disclose a person’s proper relation to God Himself or God’s own relation to people.”

    Do you think this is still true today? Since our names still have meaning, even if we don’t personally know the meaning, are they still revelatory. For instance, if you look up the meaning of your name, has it pretty much fit the bill as a description for who you actually are, or not?

    I know that in many cultures parents still painstakingly pick a child’s name, not by how it sounds, or how unique it is, but in the hope that the meaning of the name will become a reality in the life of their child. I know the Chinese definitely still do this.

  • Helen F

    Beautiful sermon here on this topic, using Luther’s Christmas hymn,
    “Welcome to Earth, O Noble Guest” as a theme:

    http://www.stpaulbluepoint.org/page1/page3/page3.html

  • Helen F

    Beautiful sermon here on this topic, using Luther’s Christmas hymn,
    “Welcome to Earth, O Noble Guest” as a theme:

    http://www.stpaulbluepoint.org/page1/page3/page3.html


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