Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Name

How many Michaels do you know? Or how many Joshuas? Maybe you would have to use both hands to count how many Sarahs you have met in your life. Maybe your name is Sarah.

Two years ago, my husband and I had a baby. We had chosen a first name, but we scoured baby name books for just the right middle name. We found lists of names—top tens. Do you know the most popular name for boys over the past several decades? It's a toss up between Michael and Jacob. Those two names top the ten most picked time and time again. Must be something solid about them, or respectable. Sarah, Emily and Hannah are very popular girl names.

Naming a child is important. And this was very true in the Hebrew culture. Parents named their children after a relative or after a theme. Like our culture, names were repeated in waves of popularity—Judas, Joseph, Joshua. For hundreds of years, since the prophecies of Malachi, the Jews had been looking for their coming Messiah. They knew that only Jehovah could save. One of the names that was very common at that time summed up that very idea: Jehovah is salvation. That name?

Jesus. (Or Yeshua in Hebrew)

In our culture, you rarely find a person who has been named Jesus. I’ve seen the name more used in the Hispanic culture and pronounced in Spanish (i.e., the J sounds like an English H, as in José), than used in English.

But at the time of Jesus of Nazareth, there may have been several Jesus’ running around. Several. There are even two named by Paul the apostle in the Bible: Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah, and Jesus, called Justus (Col. 4:11).

As we approach Resurrection Sunday I am thrilled with the truth that my Jesus, the Savior and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has risen! Those who came to His empty tomb that Sunday know that only His grave clothes were left behind.

Those who sat in the upper room, testified that Jesus had met two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As they testified, His presence was with them (“wherever two or more are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them”—see Matthew 18:20). When they spoke of Him, He appeared to them. In His glorified body, He didn’t have to use the door, which was locked for fear. But He visited them in the flesh.

Mary knows He lives. He met her in the garden and she ran and told the others that He had risen. This One so loved and mourned by His own had risen, just as He said He would. This One who is sovereign over life and Who is Life explained it this way:

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I might take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down from Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment from My Father.” (John 10:17-18, ModernKJV)

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God who is God, lives.

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