Dear Church Family,
Names are important. They communicate something about a person. Particularly in the Scriptures, what a person is called is significant. And, when a person’s name is changed – especially when God changes that person’s name – it is extremely significant. For instance, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel – from ‘deceiver’ or ‘supplanter’ to ‘one who wrestles with God’ (Genesis 32:28). Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, meaning ‘the rock’ (John 1:42).
In the Scriptures, we also are given the names by which we are to refer to God. God reveals to us the names which we are to use for Him – we are not free to just make up and use any names that we like. Throughout the Old Testament, God reveals several different names for Himself. For instance, He is Adonai (Lord or Master, Psalm 38:22), Yahweh (the great ‘I am,’ Exodus 3:14), Yahweh Nissi (The Lord My Banner, Exodus 17:15), and Yahweh Yireh (The Lord Will Provide, Genesis 22:14). These are just some of the names that God gives us which we may use in addressing Him or speaking about Him. They describe His nature.
Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, is called by different names. And, each name speaks to the nature of Jesus – who He is and what He has done. The first chapter of the Gospel According to John is replete with these names and characterizations of Jesus. We addressed several of these titles during our sermons from John 1; however, here is a list of those names (as many as I could find, at least).
In John 1, Jesus is referred to as:
“The Word,” or “Logos” (John 1:1, 14) – He is the eternal Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.
“The Light of Men” (John 1:4) – The Light of men who shines in the darkness and gives life.
“The True Light” (John 1:9) – The true Light that enlightens every man; all the world was made through Him.
“The only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14) – He is eternally begotten of the Father, always in perfect fellowship with Him.
“A higher rank than John the Baptist” (John 1:15, 30) – He eternally exists in a higher rank than His creation.
“Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) – Jesus (meaning ‘Yahweh saves’) and Christ (meaning ‘the Messiah’ or ‘Anointed One’); the One through whom grace and truth were realized.
“The Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36) – The perfect sacrifice who takes away the sin of the world.
“The One who Baptizes in the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33) – The only One who may effect regeneration and grant new life through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
“The Son of God” (John 1:34, 49) – Not just a son of God, but THE Son of God who eternally existed with the Father.
“Rabbi” (John 1:38, 49) – teacher, dispenser of all truth, prophet.
“Messiah” (John 1:41) – Christ, Anointed One, He who is anointed by the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).
“Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote” (John 1:45) – Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of all that Moses and the prophets wrote (Luke 24:27); all the promises of God are ‘yes’ in Him (2 Corinthians 1:19).
“The King of Israel” (John 1:49) – Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise that a descendant of David would establish a house for God’s name and a throne of His kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
“The Son of Man” (John 1:51) – Jesus simply refers to Himself as the ‘Son of Man,’ the one upon whom the angels of God ascend and descend, the gate of heaven.
Names are important. When Peter gave testimony before the Jewish Council in Jerusalem, he bore witness that the effectiveness of his ministry was due to the power of the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10). Peter testified, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Though commanded by this Jewish Council to not speak of teach at all in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18), Peter and the disciples continued to do just that. Once again, they were brought before the Jewish Council, flogged, and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:40). And, what did the disciples do? They went out from the presence of the Council, having just been flogged, “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name…they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 4:41-42).
May we, likewise, reverence, honor, and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ in all His glory!
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch