The Names of Jesus
Join us as we learn how the God of Justice, the God of Love has come to give you Wonderful counsel, to be your Mighty God, Your Everlasting Father, and your Prince of Peace.
December 3, 2023
Names of Jesus
by Ben Caldwell
Intro. Biblically Jesus is called by many different names. If I gave you some paper and a pen, how many Biblical names for Jesus do you think you could remember?
To be very transparent, I came up with a list and I didn’t do that well. I only came up with about 12. This week, I read an article by a guy named Greg Morse; he is a writer for Desiring God. He and his wife came up with this list:
Messiah. Master. Teacher. Creator. Friend. Bridegroom. Savior. Lord. Mediator. Redeemer. Beloved. Worthy. Our blessed hope. Our propitiation. The Good Shepherd. Wonderful Counselor. Prince of peace. Image of the invisible God. Ruler of the kings on earth. The Door. The True Vine. The Bread of Life. The Lamb of God. The Way, the Truth, the Life. The rock of offense. The Morning Star. The Holy One. The Beginning. The King of glory. Lord of the Sabbath. The faithful witness. The Head of the Church. The Lion of Judah. The Suffering Servant. The Prophet greater than Moses. The One who loves us.
The Light of the World. The Author and Perfecter of our faith. The Great High Priest. The Son of David. Son of Man. Son of God. Our Wisdom. Our sanctification. Something greater than Solomon. The firstborn from the dead. The Resurrection and the Life. The Alpha and Omega. Almighty God. Man of Sorrows. The radiance of the glory of God… just to name a few.
Morse goes on to say, “You may wonder with the love-stricken Juliet, what’s in a name?”
In ancient Hebrew culture, you didn’t just name someone something because you liked the sound of it. You might name someone after a person in your family. We see a snapshot of that in Luke 1 (v. 60-61), when the people gathered with Zechariah and Elizabeth want to name their new baby Zechariah after his father. But Elizabeth says, “No, his name will be John.” And the people respond, “But there is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
In the Bible we often see that people are named, because of what that name means. The name Adam means earth. Scholars believe that the name Eve meant living or breath. And that humanity was born when God breathed life into a lump of earth. He figurative and literally breathed life into humanity through Adam and Eve. God promised to make Abram into a great nation. And so God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means Father of many. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah which means “princess,” because as God explains it: “Kings of people will come from her.” Her name reflects that she is royalty, because her children will be royalty. It was a prophetic statement. The prophet Hosea names his children Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi. And their names carried prophetic meaning… God was going to punish Israel, and so Hosea’s kids all have names indicating God’s coming judgement. Jezreel was a valley where some people were slaughtered. It would be like naming your child Columbine or 9-11. Lo-Ruhamah means “not loved” which is clearly a lovely name for a little girl. And Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” God wanted these kids named these crazy names to make a statement to Israel that judgment was coming against them.
In the Bible, what you named someone carried great importance because of its meaning.
1. JESUS: So let’s talk about some of the names given to Jesus. The first one I’d like to cover is the name Jesus. The name would probably have been Jeshua, a Jewish name closely connected to the name Joshua, which we have transliterated into a more “English sounding” name: Jesus. It means God saves. Or God is salvation.
We see that both Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Joseph (Jesus’ step Father) are told by an angel that they should name him Jesus. In Matthew 1:18 and following, we read:
Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
So Jesus’ name means God Saves. And that is exactly what Jesus came to do. He is almighty God who has come to us as both God and man in order to rescue us from the consequences of our own sin.
There was a book series written by C.S. Lewis that has become a series of movies. It is often called the Narnia series. The main title was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” The series is about a magical world called Narnia, that some children discover. And in this world there is a battle going on between the good Lion Aslan and the evil White Witch. And the children find themselves in the middle of this battle. In the story, one of the children, Edmund is a traitor. He’s guilty. He did some things that the white Witch wanted him to do in order to be rewarded by her. And so the White Witch tells Aslan, the good Lion:
“‘You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill…And so, that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property’” (142).
And how does Aslan respond? Does he just kill the witch? No! Why not? Because (we are told) “the Emperor’s Deep Magic” is at work. So Aslan says, “Yes, The White Witch is right. Because of the Deep Magic, she has the right to claim that Edmund belongs to her; she can kill him because of his rebellion.” Another Child, Susan asks, “Can’t we do something about the Deep Magic?” And the answer to that question is “YES.” After the very public conversation between Aslan and the Witch about the Witch’s claim upon Edmund and the Deep Magic, Aslan talks to the Witch privately. And everyone tensely wonders what they could be talking about. But after the conversation, we read: “At last they heard Aslan’s voice, ‘You can all come back,’ he said. ‘I have settled the matter. She has renounced the claim on your brother’s blood’” (144).
And everyone just knows that can’t be right. An Evil witch just agreeing to give up Edmund. How did Aslan get her to give up? Aslan has agreed to willingly trade places with Edmund. So they tie up Aslan and the Witch says:
“Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased” (155). Aslan is dying ‘instead of’ Edmund. He is Edmund’s Substitute. And by dying, justice is served. And if you want to know more, read the book or see the movie.
Now C.S. Lewis was a professor of English literature and known for being a Christian Apologist. So in these stories, he was intentionally taking Biblical truths and putting them into a story for children. To be clear, the story about Aslan is not the Bible. But it was written to entertain children and to teach them some things about the Bible.
Aslan represents Jesus. And emperor represents God the Father. The Deep Magic they are referring to is Justice, that is doing what is right and fair. Could God have just forgiven us for our sin, our acts of rebellion against him. Could He just have gotten rid of our sin. He has the power to do that, but God is a God of justice. His character compels him to act justly. The question isn’t “Can he sweep our sin under the rug.” Instead the question is: “Will HE sweep our sin under the rug.” And the answer is NO! God refuses to be unjust. In Aslan’s case, he will not disregard the Emperor’s “Deep Magic.”
Instead, Almighty God came as God, the Son… Jesus. He came as this little baby in the manger. He taught us and lived with us without ever sinning against the Father, always upholding the Father’s justice. And then as a sinless perfect sacrifice, Jesus swapped places with us. He took the penalty for our sin. So that God’s Justice would be served, but so we would also be able to experience God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace. We can be forgiven and made right with the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
This is what the Bible is all about. Jesus died in our place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Because of what Jesus did, the Father has both forgiven us AND the Son has maintained justice. Romans 3:21-26 says:
Romans 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
What we are Celebrating at Christmas was the coming of a special little baby whose name means “God Saves”…Jesus. It is the most crucial component of God’s plan to rescue us from our own rebellion against God. That is what the name Jesus is all about.
2. Immanuel: God with Us.
Another name given to Jesus is Immanuel. Earlier, I read a passage out of Matthew chapter 1. I ended earlier with verse 21. So let me reread that verse and pick up where we left off:
Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”
People often have different perceptions of what God is like. Some people imagine God as an angry, antagonistic bully. They might think of God as being a vengeful rule-maker who is on a mission to catch us red-handed breaking his laws so that he can punish us. “AH HA! I knew you would mess up!!! And I caught you!” But that isn’t what God is like.
Some people think of God as being a senile benevolent old soul. Like the family is bilking the old guy out of all of his money. Because all you have to do is show up and ask for something… and he’ll give it to you. Sometimes people get the idea that’s what God is like. You just show up to church, ask him for what you want, and he has to give it to you. People even go so far as to try to make deals with this god. If you will just do this one thing for me, then I promise I will serve you. As if we don’t already owe Him for every beat of our hears and every breath we take already. That idea and that attitude makes believe that you have something to bargain with, even though the Bible is clear everything belongs to God… including you. But Benevolent Senility is not what God is like.
Some people think of God as a lonely person who is kind of needy. He is just sitting around waiting for you to visit or call. He just hopes that maybe you will pray or entertain him or in some way pay attention to him. As if he needs our attention. But that isn’t what God is really like.
But the truth is… none of these pictures are correct, not according to the Bible. The scripture tells us that God is completely self-sufficient He is all-powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He doesn’t need us or anything that we might bring to the table. He is the all mighty God of the universe who is constantly surrounded by the angelic hosts, continually being worshipped. But this God fashioned humanity, because he is so full of love that He desires to share that love with us.
Consider the greatest two commands in all of the Bible. #1. To love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And #2. To love your neighbor as you love yourself. These are God’s commands to us. Jesus says all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two things. They are the real measure of discipleship. John Ortberg has said if you really want to know whether you are growing closer to God, its not measured in how many times you read your Bible this week or how many times you’ve prayed. It is bound up in whether you are loving God and loving others more than ever.
1 John 4:7-9 says, “1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
God is Love. Not that love is God. I am not saying that any kind of love you want to give is somehow godly. I am saying that real love is wrapped up in who God is. It is part of His identity… just like Justice.
And this God of Justice… this God of Love… This God who would sacrifice Himself to pay your ransom… He identifies Himself as a God who is not just high and holy and lofty and Transcendent… But He is a God who is also present here with us… with YOU… making himself known intimately, personally, and lovingly.
HE is Immanuel, God… with… us.
Technically, I want to end with points 3, 4, 5, and 6.
3. Wonderful Counselor 4. Mighty God 5. Everlasting Father 6. Prince of Peace
In Isaiah 9… in the same prophecy that Matthew quoted earlier in Matthew 1…. In Isaiah 9, God tells us that people living in darkness will see a great light. And it will be a time of great joy for humanity. Because…
Isaiah 9:6 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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 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.
Today, we are considering Christmas. We are welcoming it into our lives. This passage from Isaiah is what God says the coming of his CHRIST is all about. Here at the CHRIST-mass, God would make himself known to us as our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, THE Prince of Peace.
And so I want to invite you take a minute and reflect on that. One author suggests that “In a general sense he [GOD] was looking at each one of us. This passage is really the testimony of every believer in Christ. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The Prince Of Peace Christmas Reflections on Isaiah 9:6 (folcc.org)
We all find ourselves living in a land of darkness, a world tainted by sin. What does your darkness look like? Cancer? The Death of a loved one? A struggle with self-image or self-esteem? The desire for something that you just don’t have and it is causing you to feel incomplete? Empty? Guilt? Shame? Anxiety?
What does that mean to you that the God of Justice, the God of Love has come to give you Wonderful counsel, to be your Mighty God, Your Everlasting Father, and your Prince of Peace?