Tag Archives: Easter

The Name of Jesus

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Thank God the cross is empty. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2016.)

 

I’ve always wondered about the name Jesus.

In Matthew and Luke, we read the angel of the Lord specifically told Mary and Joseph to name their son Jesus. Later, Paul tells the church in Philippi that Jesus is the name above every name (see Philippians 2:9).

Why is the name of Jesus so important? Certainly, He could have fulfilled His mission as John, Paul, Billy, or Bob. (Like Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name….)

It wasn’t until I studied Greek at the Bible college that I had my answer.

  

Mining for Meaning

The New Testament was recorded in Greek because that was the language of the land. However, Jesus was Jewish, so He would have been given a Jewish name, and He would have spoken Hebrew as well as Greek.

The name Jesus, as it is written in the New Testament, is from the Greek word Iesous (Strong’s 2424).* If you look this up, you’ll read that it’s simply a name, and that it’s not unique to Jesus Christ.

However, Iesous comes from the Hebrew word Yehowshuwa (Strong’s 3091), or as we know it, Joshua.* This is actually a combination of two words: Jehovah (Lord / God) and saved.

The name Jesus means “the Lord saves.”

 

Above Every Name

That’s why the angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NAS).

And that’s why Paul said it’s the most important name (see Philippians 2:9). It summarizes the very message and mission of Jesus. It’s the gospel wrapped up in a single phrase.

And that phrase—the Lord saves—was given to Jesus as a name so it would be a sign for all who would understand: Jesus is Lord, and He saves.

 

Jesus Today

This Easter, let us remember that Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins. This is why He was born, why He died, why He rose from the grave, and why He continues to speak to God the Father on our behalf (see Acts 5:30-31).

If you know Jesus as your Savior, then thank Him for who He is and all that He has done for you.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus yet, then I encourage you to do so now.** The good news is that He still saves.

 

* The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of Bible, by James Strong. This is a great tool to locate words in the Bible and to research their meaning, whether they were written in Greek or Hebrew.

**A simple prayer is all it takes. Here’s a suggestion: Jesus, I acknowledge that you are God and I have sinned against you. I ask for Your forgiveness. Come into my heart. I’m Yours.


For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NAS)

Easter is for Fools

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Easter is for Fools

I’ve heard people say that you should never call anyone a “fool,” that Jesus specifically called out this word, saying that anyone who uses it against someone would be doomed to hell. This comes from Matthew 5:20-22:

Matthew 5:20-22   20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ [or empty-head] shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

So, what’s really happening here? Matthew 5:1 tells us that Jesus is speaking to His followers. Jesus starts off telling them they are to be the light of the world and share His gospel with everyone (Matthew 5:16). He then tells them that He came to fulfill the law of the Old Testament (5:17). Suffice it to say that the Old Testament law required a lot of sacrifice in order for the sinner to receive forgiveness. Jesus was basically saying here that He was the ultimate sacrifice, and His death would fix our relationship with God.

The problem was that many of Jesus’ followers probably thought they were already obeying the law of the Old Testament, so they wouldn’t need His big sacrifice. Jesus had to correct their thinking so they would realize they needed Him. To shake things up, Jesus goes so far as to say that just having bad thoughts would be enough to send them to hell. It’s within this context that Jesus tells them that just calling someone a bad name, such as “dummy” or “fool,” would be sinning, requiring them to get right with God.

Although we have all sinned, Jesus says we are supposed to “be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) The problem is that we can’t be perfect on our own. Since our own obedience falters, and our sacrifices only go so far, we’re all doomed. The good news (and thank God there’s good news after that!) is that Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, to fix our relationship with God.

So, it’s not that the word “fool” is inherently bad; it’s the mean intentions of our hearts that earn us a place in hell. But Jesus knew this, even from the foundation of the world. He knew this and He died for us, so that we would have a right relationship with God once more. The real truth, then, is that we are all fools – and Easter is for all of us.

Empty cross with sand cranes. Ashley took this photo at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference in 2015.

Empty cross with sand cranes. Ashley took this photo at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference in 2015.