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“Jesus” A name above all names




It is often true that we can learn a great deal about a person from either his name, or from the titles he is given.  This is especially true of Jesus of Nazareth, a man who quietly came on the scene nearly two thousand years ago, but as a result of his brief life, has managed to change the direction of mankind for an eternity.


In his name, and in the titles he wore, we are able to learn far more about his nature, character and deeds, than if we were to read everything he did and said during his brief three year ministry.  Not only did Jesus of Nazareth use various metaphors to describe himself, but the men and women during New Testament times used other descriptive titles which summarized what they believed him to be.


Among other things, he was called The Good Shepherd, The Bread of Life, The Messiah and The Son of God, to name only a few. But why were these titles used so frequently by Jesus himself, or by his followers?  The answer lies in our understanding these titles as his disciples understood them nearly two thousand years ago.  Within one title or within one simple metaphor we can learn much of the unsearchable riches about the true nature of the man called Jesus.  And by thoroughly understanding the true nature of Jesus, we can finally become a partaker of his divine nature ourselves.  However, before we begin looking at the titles given to our Lord, we must first look at the name of Jesus itself.



In the Gospels this is by far the most common name given our Lord.  He is called by this simple name nearly six hundred times. But why did the name of Jesus automatically come to the minds of the four writers of the Gospel accounts whenever they thought of their Lord?


First, it was a name which stressed the real humanity of our Lord.  In New Testament times it was one of the most common of all names among the Jews.  The name Jesus is actually the Greek form of three Old Testament Hebrew names -- Joshua, Jehoshua and Jeshua.


From history we are told that there were at least five High Priests called Jesus, and the historian Josephus mentions about twenty people called Jesus, ten of whom lived during the time of our Lord.  There are even some manuscripts which give the name Jesus as the first name of Barabbas.  At least three translations of Matthew 27:18 have Pilate asking the mob, "Which would you like me to release to you, Jesus called Bar-Abbas, or Jesus called Messiah?"


However, by the second century the name of Jesus was vanishing as an ordinary name.  Among the Jews it vanished because the name became hated and despised, and among Christians the name vanished because it became too sacred for common use.


But for those who knew him best, Jesus of Nazareth was not some inhuman, unreal, unearthly being.  To those who walked and talked with him, who lived and ate with him, Jesus was the very essence of humanity.  He was clearly a man among men.


But there was another important reason why the writers of the Gospel accounts so frequently used the name Jesus.  It is a one-word summary of all that Jesus came to do.


The Hebrew names Joshua and Jehoshua, from which the name Jesus comes, mean "Jehovah is my help," or "Jehovah is rescue," or "The help of Jehovah."  This is why the angel of the Lord told Mary, "You shall give him the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  No other name could describe more fully the fact that this Jesus of Nazareth was not only a man, but the deliverer of men from their sins, one sent to rescue his people from their alienation with God, and one who would bring help from Jehovah himself.  Jesus would do for mankind what no other man could do, he would bring people back to their God, because he was more than a simple man, he was God in the flesh.  He was deity!


So it is no wonder that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would use the name of Jesus so often to describe our Lord.  For in that name they affirmed the fact that this Jesus was in one sense a man like any other man, and in another sense he was the rescuer of his people, and the Savior of the world.


Doug Sample