Editor’s note: As we approach December, we encourage you to take a break from the busyness of the Christmas season and reflect upon the names of Jesus. Even though the list is long, not even all of these names can capture all Jesus is and all he came to earth to do for us. His birth that first Christmas was just the beginning of the rich, eternal, awesome salvation he won for us. This devotion is slightly adapted from the free Ministry Message that accompanies one of this year’s Christmas gifts from CTA: The Names of Jesus Ornament of Hope™.
Have you ever known anyone whose name didn’t quite fit? Someone who didn’t really look like an Erica or a Robert? Sometimes we use nicknames for people like that. Sports arenas and locker rooms notoriously spawn nicknames such as Rocky (boxing), Tank or Refrigerator (football), Slugger or Dizzy (baseball), and Magic (basketball).
In some cultures, names are quite simple. For instance, many Indonesians use just a single name. On the other hand, traditional Chinese naming practices were very complex. Chinese males received different names at various points in their lives, in addition to a surname and sometimes a generation name. Often still today, many parents in several cultures strive to capture with a fitting name each child’s character or what they hope will be that child’s essence or character as he or she grows up.
As God prepared to send his Son to earth, he worked hard to communicate the names that Son would carry. Not one name, but many names, names with precise and wonderful meanings! We will consider several of these in some depth in a moment. But first we need to ask, “Why all these names?”
In the Jewish culture into which Jesus was born, names often captured a person’s fundamental nature or God’s purposes for that person. In fact, the Lord himself sometimes changed people’s names to mark significant changes in that person’s faith walk or spiritual destiny:
- Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:4–5)
- Sarai became Sarah (Genesis 17:15–16)
- Jacob became Israel (Genesis 32:22–32)
- Simon became Peter, Rock (Mark 3:16)
The names the heavenly Father gave his Son describe the Son’s person and work. One name, two names, even three or four names could not capture all Jesus is and all he came to earth to do for us. God’s gift to us in his Son is too big for that! Let’s consider some of those names now. And as we do so, remember: Everything our Lord is, he is for us—for us individually and for us as his family, his church!
The Son’s Person
- The Word (John 1:1–2)—the One who “was God” and whose life, death, and teaching tell us what we need to know about our God.
- King (1 Timothy 1:17)—the all-powerful, all-wise Ruler whose Law confronts us with our sin, our disloyalty, rebellion, and treason; the One who in love captured our hearts and now floods those hearts with acceptance and peace.
- Son of God (John 3:17–19)—the One who came into our world, not to condemn, but to save, and in whose name we find true life, abundant and eternal.
- Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5–7)—rejected by his enemies, but chosen and precious to the Father—and to us; he is the foundation on whom our faith rests.
- The Way, the Truth, the Life (John 14:5–7)—the only One who makes it possible for us to travel safely through this world of sin and temptation and into the eternal Day of glory.
- Immanuel (Matthew 1:22–23)—“God with us,” the almighty Son of the Father who did not despise us in our weakness, but chose to take on our humanity and live with us. He lived the life of perfect obedience we could not live—living it for us! He understands our needs, hurts, pains, dreams—and he has come to help us in them!
The Son’s Work
- Creator (Colossians 1:15–17)—the One who made everything that exists and still holds it together; he gives us our next breath and will give us life forever in the New Heavens and New Earth when our lives here on earth end.
- Light (John 8:12)—the One who scatters the darkness of our rebellion and ignorance and who leads us in godly wisdom all our life long.
- Savior (Luke 2:11)—the infant King, born for us in Bethlehem, who grew up to die for us the cruel death we had by our sins deserved; now, risen from death, he lives forever to give us life and peace.
- Redeemer (Job 19:23–27)—the One who bought us back from death and hell, the One who paid our debt and has now reconciled us to himself; he promises that death will not hold us. Just as he walked out of his own grave, we, too, will one day rise in victory by faith in him.
Wonderful as they are, even all these names together do not completely capture everything God has done for us in Christ. Perhaps the one name that best sums up God’s love toward us is the last name we will consider today—Jesus. This name means “Savior” (Matthew 1:20–21)! This name expresses everything God has done and continues to do for us in the Messiah he sent, his only Son, our Lord. At that name, our knees bow. As we speak that name, our tongues confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father:
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:10–11 ESV)
Everything Jesus is, he is for you! Everything Jesus is, he is for me! Everything Jesus is, he is for us—for his people, his church, his family. Our Lord. Our Brother. Our Savior. Our Friend. Our Peace. Our Hope. Our Joy. Our Immanuel—God with us.
Now there’s a name that truly fits, that’s truly fitting—Jesus!
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