Billy Sunday once said in a sermon that there are 256 names given for Jesus in the Bible. Then he added, “I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”
This is significant because the Bible pays particular attention to names. Names speak to one’s character. Identity. Personality. And purpose in life.
The many names of Jesus remind of us His greatness. His majesty. His Deity. His ministry. His mission. And our relationship to Him.
This week we begin our Bible reading in the gospel of John and plan to post several blogs from it over the next 4 weeks. The book differs in its purpose from the synoptic gospels. It was written to incite faith in the hearts of the readers regarding Jesus’ Deity.
In chapter 1, John uses 7 different names describing Jesus that have special importance to us today.
#1 Word (1:1-3,14).
“Logos” translated “Word” communicated to the Jews God’s divine work and dynamic power. To the Greeks, it embodied philosophical reason. As Christians, we acknowledge Jesus as the incarnate Word. The Eternal Word. The creative Word. The Divine Word.
The “Word became flesh.” Divinity took on humanity. God became a man. Jesus is the express image of God. The main message of the Bible. And He’s the Father’s spokesman today.
#2 Light (1:4-9).
Seven times John calls Jesus “The Light.” Jesus entered a world of moral darkness and depravity to enlighten it with Divine light. We don’t have to dwell in darkness. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. He points us to the Father. And lights our path.
When I see Jesus, as the Light of the world, I see the Light of understanding and insight. Light that sustains my spiritual life. Light that radiates its purifying impact on my sin-stained soul. Light that nurtures and heals my hurts. And Light that gives security.
#3 Son of God. (1:18, 34, 49).
An unbelieving world denies the Sonship of Jesus. He’s called a great Rabbi. An inspiring teacher. A moral reformer. A social justice advocate. But that won’t do.
John says Jesus was the Son of God. John the Immerser confesses this Truth. And Nathaniel listened to the advice of Philip to “come and see” and exclaimed, “You are the Son of God.”
Jesus was not just a mere man. He was (and is) the Son of God.
#4 Christ (1:19-28, 35-42).
“Christ” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah. It literally means “the anointed one.” In John 1:41 the two English words are used together when Andrew brought Peter to Jesus and said, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
Christ connects Jesus to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. To the hope of Israel. To our own hope. And provides indisputable evidence to Jesus’ divine identity.
#5 Lamb of God (1:29, 35-36).
“Where is the lamb?” Isaac asked Abraham. John’s pronouncement answers that question. Every slain lamb in the Old Testament offered for sacrifice points to the one, unique and unequaled Lamb of God. He died, not just for the sins of one nation, but for all nations. For every race. For me. And for you.
#6 King of Israel (1:43-49).
When Nathaniel said, “You are the King of Israel,” he probably was thinking of an earthly king like David. But Jesus would be a greater King. A King over spiritual Israel whose throne would be in heaven. A King that Paul would later proclaim as “the blessed and only Potentate. The Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings!”(1 Tim. 6:15).
#7 Son of Man (1:50-51).
This is the name Jesus most often called Himself. Over 80 times in the gospels. The expression “Son of Man” speaks to His human nature. Jesus was tired. Hungry. Thirsty. He suffered pain. Agony. And hurt. These are characteristics of the flesh. Traits of humanity.
Jesus voluntarily came to earth to feel what we feel. To identify with our problems. Challenges. And temptations. He possessed a human mind. Human emotions. Human feelings. His genealogy was filled with regular folks. Good and bad. Rich and poor. Famous and obscure.
Emerson was right when he wrote, “The name of Jesus is not so much written as plowed in the history of the world.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman