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The Name of Jesus
Dec 31, 2015 A+D
St. Luke 2:21
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Of all the Names that God gives to men in the Scriptures, there are two names that stand above all others: Yahweh and Jesus.
The first is the personal Name that God gave to Moses as He sent him back to Egypt to deliver His people. Moses asked for a Name. God replied that He-is-the-One-Is. That is what Yahweh means in English. This is the Name that the King James wrongly translated as Jehovah. Our which modern translations usually translate is as Lord with small caps.
This Name was more than a revelation of God’s power, authority, and holiness. It was also more than a statement of His being, His realness contrasted with the imaginariness of idols, and His being the source all that it is. In this Name God revealed more of Himself for in this Name God sent Moses to bring His people out of affliction and restore them again to fellowship with Himself that they would be His people. This Name wasn’t about power or Divinity as we usually so much as it was about persistence. He is the One who is and who keeps on being. Pharaoah was also persistent, but he could stand against Yahweh and his messenger Moses forever. He eventually caved and then undone in the killing waters of the Red Sea. So it is that Satan is persistent as well, yet he cannot stand against Yahweh either. God persists. He abides. He endures. He is steadfast and sure. He is.
And that Name plays into the Name Jesus. For the name Jesus is a combination of the name Yahweh and the verb saves. It means Yahweh saves.
God’s self-revealing often combines verbs and nouns with His Name. He calls Himself: Yahweh-Jireh “The LORD will provide” or “The One Who is provides” (Gen. 22:14). He is also called ahweh-Nissi “The LORD is my victory” or “The One who is is my victory”(Exod. 17:15). He is alsoYahweh-Mekaddesh “The LORD sanctifies” (Exod. 31:13), Yahweh-Shalom “The LORD is peace” (Judg. 6:24), Yahweh-Sabaoth “The LORD of hosts” (1 Sam. 1:3; Jer. 11:20; cp. 1 Sam. 17:45).,Yahweh-Rohi “The LORD is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1).,. Yahweh-Tsidkenu “The LORD is our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5–6; 33:16), and Yahweh-Shammah “The LORD is there” (Ezek. 48:35).
Then comes Jesus, the Messiah, the prophet like Moses, from among our brethren, and He is Yahweh-Yesh or Yesh-uah – The LORD saves or The One Who Is – who perserves – who endures – who abides – saves.
This isn’t simply God’s name for the purpose of allowing us to call upon Him – though it is that. Jesus says: “If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it (John 14:4). But it is more: it is His essence, His defining and transcendent characteristic. He is the Lord who saves. He saves by providing the victory that sanctifies and bestows peace. This He wins for us by defeating the hosts of Hell in His self-offering sacrifice. Thus shepherding us into and for His own righteousness. The Lord is here, not in a column of smoke or a burning pillar, not hidden behind a curtain, but here in His risen Body and Blood, given and poured out for our redemption. Here the Lord saves.
Jesus is the eternal Word of the Father. He reveals the Father and the Spirit to us. He prays to His Father in John 17:6 (ESV) “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” This manifestation of the Father’s Name is the manifestation of salvation. St. Peter preaches of the Name of Jesus in Acts 4:12 (ESV) saying: “ 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.”
What does this have to do with a new year? I don’t know. It is not the Church that established January 1st as the new year. So it is simply happenstance that on the last night of the year the Church asks us to consider the Name of Jesus, because it happens to be one week after Christmas Eve. But ceremonies are important, more important than we tend to know, and turning the calendar to a new year is an important ceremony. It marks the passage of time. We are all hoping that somehow 2016 will better than 2015. We all know that it probably won’t be.
So maybe the Name of Jesus is an apt topic for meditation tonight, maybe being grounded in the Name of Jesus, the Lord who saves, is the best way to face old regrets and new possibilities, old sorrows and near fears, to close one chapter and begin another. It does happen to be my custom for closing a sermon.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.