Monday, July 20, 2009

Jesus - More Than a Name

When we call on the Name Jesus we are not simply identifying a person. The name "Jesus" has a much deeper meaning and significance.

Saint John Chrysostom writes on the prophecy of Isaiah, “Behold the virgin will conceive and will bear a son, and they will name him Emmanuel” (Is 7:14). He says, “Notice that the prophecy does not say, You will name him, but “they will name him”, meaning the people, and even the course of events. What is prophesied is his ultimate name. Scripture often does this, substituting a future happening for a proper name. So the phrase “they will name him Emmanuel” means simply that in him they will see God with men. God may have been with men before, but never in so evident a manner.”
(from The Name of Jesus, p39)

He is pointing out that a name can point to one's destiny. In the case of the name Jesus we are not honoring the name of a person as we normally think of it, but of God who is our Savior, the Son of God born of a virgin, who suffered crucifixion, arose from the dead and empowered the Apostles to establish His Church here on earth, all for our salvation. The name "Jesus" is pointing to much more than the human form of His life here on earth.

Irenee Hausherr writes,
To call on the name of Jesus does not mean saying “O Jesus”… Orthodox Christians loved to confess their faith by saying “Jesus Christ”, “Jesus Messiah”, “Son of God”, and especially “Lord”. They did so more readily as the heretics refused to do so... Non-Christians said “Jesus “ as they would say “Socrates” or Pythagorius”. Everything induced the faithful to say something different as a profession of faith and in reaction to those who did not share this faith. They were wary of love that was verbal, sentimental, superficial. They knew that they had to love their Lord Jesus as God with their whole heart and soul and mind and strength. No name, no title was meaningful unless backed up by deeds: “the most perfect way to say “lord” is to speak it with your whole life; it is evident therefore that to call on the name of the Lord implies holiness, and indeed great holiness.”(Origen, Sel Ps 4, 2; PG 12:1136C)
Irenee Hausherr, The Name of Jesus pp104-105

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