Jesus, Name Above All Names
The song Jesus, Name Above All Names is one of my all-time favorites. Its greatness doesn’t come from a catchy melody or intricate wordplay. Rather, its greatness comes from its elegant simplicity. Many songs want to preach a sermon set to a tune, but Jesus, Name Above All Names presents the various names of Jesus without any additional commentary. This format provides me, as a singer, the freedom to explore a different aspect of Jesus every time I sing the song, making the experience new and different each time.
The title of this song comes from Philippians chapter two. While I don’t think Jesus, Name Above All Names is intended to parallel to Philippians chapter two, I think the names of Christ given in the song illustrate Paul’s point rather well.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Phil 2:5-11 ESV]
In this chapter Paul points to Christ’s humility as an example to be followed. His humility can be seen through Jesus, God’s equal, emptying himself to become the suffering servant and being obedient unto death on the cross. Because of this humble obedience, God exalted him and gave him the “name above all names.”
We can see this narrative play out in Jesus, Name Above All Names starting with the appellation “Lord God Almighty.” This name, used often in the Old Testament to refer to God, is used again in Revelation 4:8, showing us that Jesus is God’s equal. The song also references John 1:1 by calling Jesus the “Living Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus has been equal with God since the beginning, and was present and active in the creation.
But not only does this song illustrate that Jesus is equal with God, but it also shows how Jesus emptied himself by coming in the likeness of men. The only name in the song that is given an explanation is “Emmanuel, God is with us” (Matt 1:23). Again, we can look to the gospel of John to see that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. How amazing is it that our Lord came in the flesh, to dwell among his sinful creation? He willingly left his position at the right hand of God, and all the joys that entails, to become Emmanuel for us.
Furthermore, the names in the song show us how Jesus came as a servant. Jesus serves his creation as the “Wonderful Counselor,” offering us true and beneficial teachings from his word, correcting us and instructing us in righteousness (Isa 9:6). Our Wonderful Counselor stands in opposition to the evil counsel of Satan, who has been entangling man in sin since the Garden of Eden. Jesus also serves as the “Light of the World,” enlightening the eyes of his disciples, pulling us out of darkness and giving us the light of life (John 8:12). We, as his disciples, reflect that light to the world around us. As a humble servant, Jesus was the “Man of Sorrows,” suffering betrayal, homelessness, scorn, and persecution (Isa 53:3). This name reminds us, that we too will face similar sorrows in our lives: If Jesus suffered, we will suffer too.
Christ’s life, while he was on the earth, was a life of service, and that life of service culminated in his death on the cross. Most of the names in Jesus, Name Above All Names point to his role as savior and sacrificial lamb. “Beautiful Savior” and “Blessed Redeemer” show Jesus as the only one who can save or redeem us from our sins. He is the “Prince of Peace” who can make propitiation for our sins, bringing us back into a peaceful relationship with God the Father (Isa 9:6).
Since Jesus was obedient unto death on a cross, God has exalted him and given him a name above every name. Jesus, our “Hope of Glory,” has made Heaven possible for us (Col 1:27) and like him, we too will be exalted like our “glorious Lord,” if we follow in Christ’s example.
Next time we sing Jesus, Name Above All Names, I encourage you to concentrate on one or two of the names of Jesus. Each one is so rich with meaning and application, that it could be discussed and dissected in great detail, but the song gives you the opportunity to spend just a few minutes thinking about our multifaceted Lord.