The Holy Name
by Richard Ettensohn
On this first day of 2016 A.D., we are instructed and blessed by these scriptures:
Psalm 103, Psalm 148, Isaiah 62: 1 –5, 9–12, Revelation 9:11-16, and Matthew 1:18–25.
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
We almost never hear or see the abbreviation “A.D.” in our increasingly pagan culture. “A.D.” is sometimes set out more fully as “anno Domini nostri Iesu (or Jesu) Christi” (“in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ”). As Christians, we know that 2016 will be the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whether or not this is recognized in our culture.
As I read the readings, I saw that there were many names for Jesus Christ. In the Gospel reading, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to that Mary’s son is to be named “Jesus” because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
Joseph acts in obedience to the angel’s message. Likewise, Jesus Christ does what his name says he will do and what the Father has sent him to do. Through his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, he saves Christians from our sins and gives us new life in him.
The Gospel reading also tells us that Jesus is “Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matthew 1:23). Because God is with us in 2016 A.D., he is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1, 7, 11). If God is with us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?
This same Jesus who was born of Mary in humility will come again in power and great glory. While we prepare and watch for Christ’s second coming, the obedience of Mary and of Joseph are fitting lessons. In the reading from Revelation, Saint John tells us that Jesus Christ is the “Word of God” (Revelation 19:13).
Because the Word has come in the flesh (John 1:14), he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and “he is able to “save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through” him (Hebrews 7:25).
The reading from Revelation tells us that, when Jesus Christ returns, he will come with other glorious names: “Faithful” and “True” (Revelation 9:11). Christ is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). Christ is the faithful witness (Revelation 1:5). Thank God that, even if we are faithless, he remains faithful! (2 Timothy 2:13).
Jesus Christ will also come again as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 9:16). Whenever we sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” we sing this verse. Christ says, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.” (Matthew 28:18). He is the ruler of all kings on earth (Revelation 1:5) whether they recognize him as their ruler or not.
Finally, Christ will have a new name that “no one knows but himself” (Revelation 9:12). Will this name ever be revealed? if so, when will the name be revealed? Or will the name always be known only to the Lord Jesus Christ?
See the names that redeemed Israel is given in Isaiah 62: “My delight is in her” and “Married” (Isaiah 62:4). “And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:12). As Gentiles who have been engrafted into Israel by God’s grace and mercy Israel (Romans 11), these are our names also.
Therefore, as 2016 A.D. begins, we bless the Lord (Psalm 103) and join the rest of creation in singing praises to God (Psalm 148).
Image by Daniel Go (used by permission via Creative Commons).