What's in a Name?
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
It is not uncommon to hear people express a desire to change their name. Some may think their name does not fit their personality or gender, or maybe they think it is too old-fashioned. I can honestly say that I have never felt any of those things, and I actually like my name. (Thanks, Mom!) It was a good name for me as a child because it was easy to say and spell in its traditional form, A-m-y. The name Amy, which means beloved, gained popularity in the mid-sixties, reached its peak in the seventies, and (after losing some ground) had a small revival in later decades with a few twists on spelling such as Aimee or Amie. Having been born in the middle of its heyday, I can remember at least five other girls from my childhood with the same moniker.
Names are important and part of who we are. When people forget our name, we might feel sad or a bit uncomfortable. When a woman that I knew from several Bible study classes started calling me by the wrong name, I wasn’t sure what to do. Confusion, and probably a little pride, caused me to think, “How could she not know my name?” We had been in several classes together, and I had led at least two of them. At first I thought I had heard her incorrectly. Unfortunately, though, it became a regular occurrence. This sweet lady would smile, wave, and call out the wrong name with great gusto when she would see me. In one instance, she introduced me to another woman using the wrong name. After this, I began to suspect that she thought I was someone else. Being somewhat non-confrontational, I was not comfortable correcting her; especially since she was my elder and I didn’t want to embarrass her. So to this day, I am known to her by a name that is not mine.
Her error has not caused me great offense, nor does it harm anything. It is insignificant. However, there is a Name that is above all other names, and the person to whom it belongs must not be misunderstood or confused with someone else.
The name of Jesus—in Hebrew, Yeshua—presents the idea that God delivers, saves, and rescues through his Messiah. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah, also called Christ. Messiah and Christ share the meaning anointed one or chosen one. In the Old Testament, kings were anointed with oil on their heads as a sign that they were appointed by God as king. In Scripture, Jesus is referred to as the King of kings. It is a mistake to call him a “good teacher” or “prophet” as many do. When Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”(Matthew 16:13), they said, “Some say John the Baptist others say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v 14). Jesus then asked his disciples who they thought he was, and Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v 16). Jesus affirmed Peter's statement, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
Getting my name wrong or not remembering what I have (or haven’t) done has zero consequences for the lovely church lady, but those that get Jesus wrong will face eternal consequences. Jesus humbly came to the earth for one purpose: to live a sinless life; to obediently go to the cross; and to be crucified, die, and then be raised on the third day. This was to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind so that we could be restored to fellowship with God. This is called The Gospel, also known as The Good News. Without it, one cannot be with God. There is only one way to God: "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved" (Romans 10:9-10).
Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God. His own words from John 14:6 dispel that idea: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Paul reaffirms the importance of knowing Jesus in the book of Acts: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (4:12)
In the world, people believe in many religious systems and ways to reach God, heaven, or some other state of perfection or happiness. Many are deceived and think that all ways lead to God. This is simply not true.
Will you pray with me?
Father, Thank you for your patience with us. Thank you that you have made a way that we can come to you through Jesus, the Messiah. Help us to understand these truths and to help others see them as well. We praise You.
In Jesus’s Name,