What is in a Name?

Revelation: Expanded Introduction – part 2.  

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet pleads with Romeo to look in his heart and see the truth about who he really is. Her plea convinces him that his name is not important, what is important is their love for each other.

 Every name has meaning. I did a search on my name to see what interesting information might be gained and found a rather diverse array of definitions. I am interpreting that to mean that I can choose the ones I like the best. The definitions ranged from someone who lived in the valley, to head or leader, to chief or ecclesiastical supervisor. I liked the head or leader, or ecclesiastical supervisor best, so if asked I will probably go with those.

As we look at John’s unveiling of the central character in the book of Revelation, we find he uses two names to identify the one to whom he directs our attention. He calls him Jesus Christ. Not just Jesus and not just Christ, but Jesus Christ. This is a significant combination of identifying titles. Unlike the diverse definitions of my name, which offered me the privilege of defining my name as I pleased, or at least pick the ones I preferred, these titles are very precise in what they mean and what John wants us to understand. In this name we see the perfect blend of man and God. In this title we discover the union of human flesh and divine essence, the incarnate deity.  Paul describes this union for us in Philippians 2:6-11 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  

The name Jesus comes from the Old Testament name Jeshua, or Joshua. The name means deliverer, savior, or Jehovah saves. This name is the most frequently used name for the Son of God during his time on earth. It appears to be his human identity. It describes his purpose for coming to earth.

The name Jesus identifies him as the humble servant, the suffering savior. Scriptures clearly define Jesus’ ministry as that of one who came to suffer and die that he might provide salvation for his lost creation. 1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Acts 13:22-23  he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Because of his humble earthly origin he was rejected by those he came to deliver, the seed of Abraham. John in his gospel states in chapter 1 verse 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. The religious elite saw him as just another man. In spite of the miracles he performed, and the depth of his knowledge of the Torah, the religious leaders could only see his humanity. They would only acknowledge that he was the son of a poor carpenter from the blue collar town of Nazareth. He was not of the intellectually superior, socially accepted Judean privileged and therefore could not be anything more than a self appointed prophet.

The Old Testament foretold that the Messiah must first come and suffer to redeem his fallen creation.

In Isaiah 42:1-7 the prophet declared, Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

And again in Isaiah 53:2-7 the prophet describes in great detail the suffering of Messiah at his first appearing;  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

But the pride of the self righteous religious leaders blinded them to the Messiah coming, which opened the door of redemption to the gentiles. In the first part of Revelation John shows Jesus lovingly instructing those he has redeemed, preparing them for their performance evaluation and reward.

The name Christ means anointed one and refers to the Messiah, the one who would rule and reign on the throne of David. We see this Jesus the once humble servant now the Righteous Judge, the Glorified Lord and King. Paul in Romans 14:11 says, For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. The Psalmist proclaims the same message in Psalms 72:11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. And Paul instructs the believers at Philippi in Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; this humble suffering savior is also the Messiah. He is the one who will judge the world and rule his eternal kingdom.

Charles B. Wycuff penned these words in a beautiful song he composed titled What A Lovely Name. “There’s a name above all others, Wonderful to hear, bringing hope and cheer: It’s the lovely name of Jesus, Evermore the same, what a lovely name. He’ll return in clouds of glory, Saints of every race, shall behold his face; With him enter heaven’s city, Ever to acclaim, what a lovely name. What a lovely name the name of Jesus, Reaching higher far than the brightest star; Sweeter than the songs they song in heaven, Let the world proclaim what a lovely name.”

John summarizes his theme in the first few words of his opening paragraph when he wrote the name Jesus Christ. Jesus is identified as the Merciful Redeemer that is seen ministering to the church in chapters 1-5 and Christ is identified as the Righteous Judge pouring out holy judgment in chapters 6-20, and the Glorious King ruling over his eternal kingdom in chapters 21, 22.

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