Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is the Implication of Calling on the Name "Jesus"?

In the book The Jesus Prayer by A Monk of the Eastern Church he writes the following:
"The angel announced o Mary that her son would be called Jesus, for he would save men from their sins (Mt 1:21; cf. Lk 1:13). The name Iesios is the Greek transcription of the Hebrew Yeshua (Jesus) which is itself identical with Yehoshua (Joshua). The first of these two Hebrew words is a contraction of the the second, intended to avoid the sequence of the vowels o and u which was repugnant to Jewish ears. The meaning of the name Yeshua, while clear in a general sense, is difficult to establish with any strict precision. The translation “savior” is more of less correct: more exactly the name signifies “salvation of Yahweh” or “Yahweh is salvation” Hence the ancient adage nomen est omen––name expresses in a certain way the person and his destiny––applies to the angel’s Annunciation concerning the name of the child."

We can see that the name Jesus is something quite different from the kind of name we give to our children today. When we recite it we are not simply calling to Jimmy or Isabel. It is a name with theological significance rooted in the most ancient history of mankind. We are not calling to a human bieng named Jesus, but to our God seeking our salvation.

The Eastern Monk continues:
"Three texts from the New Testament are of special importance for the veneration of the name of Jesus. First of all (following what we believe to be the chronological order) there is Saint Paul’s great text: “God has given him a name which is above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil 2:9-10). Next we have the solemn declaration from the Acts of the Apostles: “There is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And finally in the Fourth Gospel we have the secret which Jesus reveals to his disciples: “Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. ...Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” (Jn 16:23-24)."

It is a “name above all names” an name given for our salvation and one that when invoked sincerely can bring us the grace of God. The Eastern Monk says that it is “above all the Acts of the Apostles which could be called the book of the name of Jesus.” He points out that in this book, “‘In the name of Jesus’ the good news is preached, converts believe, baptism is conferred, cures and other signs are accomplished, lives are risked and given.” The Name is not “a magical formula,” he points out, because to use it one needs to “have an inner relationship with Jesus himself.”

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