By Editorial Staff
Published April 21, 2008
By John Timmerman
Have you noticed that names in the U.S. are given a different importance than names in our Chinese culture? In the U.S. there are many family names, but only a few given names. In China, of course, the reverse is true. Parents and grandparents spend a great deal of time selecting an appropriate given name for a new baby, a name that will express what they hope will be his character and role in life.
The God of the Bible is much like a Chinese parent in that He, too, took great care in selecting a name for His only Son. During December, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of that child, whom His Father named Jesus. In this excerpt from a book by Dr. John Timmerman, we can learn much about Jesus by studying His name.
- Wang Jiapu
What’s in a name?
A name does more than simply identify one among many. Often a name evokes the image of a person, as well as event, hopes, and joys tied to that person. When we call to mind, for example, the name of a childhood friend, suddenly a whole time filled with meaning is called forth in our memory.
What’s in a name? At the name of Jesus, our faith, hope, salvation, and expectation of eternal life are called forth in our thoughts.
Jesus, however, was not such an unusual name in scriptural times. In the Old Testament, Hebrew names such as Joshua, Jehoshua, and Jeshua are simply linguistic variations of Jesus…
While the name itself is fairly common, meaning “God’s salvation” or “God is my help,” the person of Jesus the Messiah is unique, for here in fact is God’s salvation. The name at once emphasizes Jesus’ commonness – He is born the Son of Man, a man among men – and Jesus’ uniqueness. This man Jesus is born to redeem man to eternal life.
The name Jesus was appointed by God for His Son and was so announced by angelic messengers before His birth: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 RSV).
This Jesus is the One who has been looked for, the One who finally comes to fulfill prophecy and expectation, the One whose birth is announced with joy and the acclamation of angels. This Jesus comes as the fulfillment of certain names known to expectant people for centuries: the Rock, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd. And He comes as the bearer of certain titles – equally familiar – draped about His human shoulders with royal, divine significance: the Messiah, the High Priest, the King, the Son of Man, and Son of God.
William Barclay, the great theologian who has studied the life and work of Jesus in keen detail, says in Jesus As They Saw Him (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman, 1978):
“It is no accident that our Lord was called by the name Jesus. That name sums up the things which He came into the world to do and which only He can do. He came to be the divine Rescuer who alone can deliver men from the consequences and from the grip of sin; He came to be the divine Physician who alone can bring healing to the bodies and souls of men.”
The Holy Scripture is a resonant proclamation of that great name, Jesus, and the promises it carries for His people.
In His name is power. “If you ask anything in My name,” Jesus says to His disciples and to us, “I will do it” (John 14:14 RSV).
In His name is healing. Demons are cast out in Jesus’ name. The lame run with joy, the blind see. And, in the greatest healing, the dead in Christ are raised to eternal life (John 10:28 RSV).
In His name is joy. “These things I have spoken to you,” says Jesus, “that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11 RSV). Jesus can banish all sorrow, all darkness, if only we ask.
In His name is remission of sins. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins,” says Jesus, “should be preached in [Christ’s] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47 RSV).
In His name there is new life. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31 RSV).
In His name is praise. Jesus has come “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:9 RSV). Surely there is promise in the name of Jesus – the very promise of God Himself.
From A Layman Looks at the Names of Jesus, by John Timmerman, © 1985, Tyndale House Publishers. Used with permission.
John Timmerman, Ph.D., is a professor of English at Calvin College. He is the former editor of Christianity and Literature, and the author of several books and articles.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 3, Number 2
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)