“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11.
I feel at times that the Saviour is referred to, spoken of, even in some pulpits, in a fashion that is too careless and casual. Indeed, there is even an adopting of the unbecoming style of address that is frequently heard from the ‘tele-evangelists’ and those that would wish to sound like them!
Yes, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21, but we must never forget He is the Lord of glory and not to address Him or refer to Him as make it appear He is a mere man!
I believe that in an attempt to display the Saviour as very ‘approachable and accessible’ and not some person ‘shrouded in mystery’ we are in great danger of robbing Him of His honour and majesty in an attempt at unwise ‘congeniality’!
That must never be!
Men in darkness called Him ‘Jesus’!
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house,” Matthew 13:54-57.
For thirty years, the Son of God was called ‘Jesus’ by His neighbours and friends in Nazareth, almost all of whom had no idea of His true and full identity. But when Heaven’s light began to dawn upon the souls of men, they enlarged upon that name and spoke of it in reverence! In the revelation given them they saw beyond the humble circumstances of the humanity of the Saviour and realised that deity was concealed beneath its cloak!
When He began His ministry, the Father introduced him and identified Him as His Son.
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:16-17.
Whenever we think of the Saviour or refer to Him, I believe we must ever remember these words of the Father. Certainly, the Father would have us ever bear in mind the character of the Saviour that He revealed to the world.
The awakened soul sees beyond the name of Jesus, the name given Him in His humility.
“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” Matt 8:2.
The title ‘Lord’ means ‘Master’. It is a title indicating the honour in which He was held by the leper. We have such honour shown again in the words of the Roman Centurion. “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him,” Matthew 8:5-7. That light that had dawned in this man’s soul is seen in the nature of his words to Christ and also how Christ spoke of him later. “When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,” Matthew 8:10.
The same witness to Christ’s glory is evidenced in many places, perhaps none better known than that in the cry of blind Bartimaeus
“And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me,” Luke 18:35-38.
Physically blind he may have been but the eyes of soul were opened wide to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth! He called Him the ‘Son of David,’ a wonderful title of the Messiah. He saw beyond the earthly name men commonly called Him.
The thief on the cross, converted in the final hours of his life, when his eyes were opened, they were opened to glory of the One beside him. “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luke 23:42-43.
That I believe is how the Holy Spirit would have us refer to Christ.
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Corinthians 12:3.
The Holy Spirit would have us only refer to Christ in terms that truly honour Who He is!
We should speak of the Saviour with the highest honour in contrast to how the world uses His name casually at best and as a curse at worst!
In their ignorance men speak of and treat the Saviour most wickedly. Calvary highlights that!
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8.
Exodus 20:7 states: ‘Thou shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain.’ John Gill (1697 – 1771), the great Bible commentator, said this of these words from Exodus. We should not: ‘Make use of the name Lord or God, or any other name and epithet of the divine Being, in a light and trifling way, without any show of reverence of him, and affection to him; whereas the name of God ought never to be mentioned but in a grave and serious manner, and with an awe of the greatness of his majesty upon the mind.’
I always recall the encounter between an old Ulsterman and a dear friend now in glory, living in Pennsylvania, USA, as related to me by him. He was Bob McNeill, the main instigator of the move to commence a witness in his adopted land. That witness is now called Malvern Free Presbyterian Church.
Bob was copying some church leaflets in a ‘drugstore’ as it is called in the US. The store had a photocopier which customers could use for a small fee. When he lifted the lid of the copier he found that the previous user had left behind the master copy he had been duplicating. Seeing it was a notice of a church meeting, he carefully laid it aside in case the person returned looking for it. Sure enough, a short time later a man hastily enter and enquired of Bob if he had seen a leaflet. Bob handed it to him and asked, ‘Are you a Christian?’ The man replied, ‘Oh yes, Jesus is a great guy!’
Bob quietly corrected him. ‘No, he is not. He is the Lord of glory!’
Chastened, the man immediately corrected himself and apologised. ‘You are right! I should not have spoken of Him in that manner.’
All too often Christians take the name of ‘Jesus’ and use it in a most casual manner, in a manner that robs it of its rightful glory. Personally, I can never feel at ease in my spirit referring to the Saviour other than by the use of the terms which set forth His power and glory. I try ever to Call Him the ‘Lord Jesus’ or the ‘Lord Jesus Christ’.
In the day of Christ’s return we will see how man ought to speak of Christ.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. ….. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,” Revelation 19:11, 16.
That is how we should ever see Him and speak of Him. Though His person and glory are hidden from this darkened world, He ought to be ever to us, the ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’!
“Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD,” Psalm 148:11-14.
“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all,” 1 Chronicles 29:11.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
7th March 2022.