The only people who walk around calling themselves by their own name are sports maniacs, politicians, or overstuffed actors. No normal person says, “Jim is going to write an article, then have breakfast, and after that Jim is going to play golf.” A normal person says “I am…” regarding these activities. In English we call this speaking in the third person. Not first, not second… but third. Names are essential but only exists for the benefit of the outsider. They are like handles to help the outsider identify a person. A coffee mug has a handle, but holds no coffee. The purpose is to allow the holder to have a relationship with the mug, which allows the holder to partake in the coffee. Names are relationship handles.
As human beings we don’t have a relationship between our identity and our name, but those around us do. My dad’s name is James, my son’s name is James, there is a man in my Sunday School class is named James. So when I think of the name James, I don’t think of myself, I think about one of these other men I know, named James.
In the Old Testament the Hebrew people never called God by His true name, and if it was written down it was: YKVK. Absent any vowel sounds this word is impossible to pronounce correctly. It was never spoken so no one really knows what it sounds like. Some have tried to say Yahveh, but even that is purely speculation. The name YKVK represented the infinite aspects of God which are beyond our human understanding or comprehension. This name is actually a combination of 3 Hebrew words: Haya, Hoveh, and Yeheyeh, which mean past, present, and future. The concept isn’t just that God was, is, and always will be. The concept is that God transcends time itself, and that God is present, was present, and will be present … simultaneously.
Whether in the first century or in the twenty-first century, Jews refer to God as Hashem, which literally means, “The Name.” It is forbidden to speak God’s true name (YKVK) so The Name became the expression for the essence of the Jewish relationship with God. To them it was the same thing as saying “Dad.”
Jesus was a Jew. He understood these concepts better from a human perspective than any of his Jewish brothers. He also got into big trouble because He explained these concepts as though He were talking about Himself. At one point He said plainly and boldly, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) On another occasion Jesus said, “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me.” (John 8:16)
These radical statements by Jesus threw the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem into a rage. This attitude was inflamed when on several separate occasions Jesus invoked a name or moniker, previously used for God, and took that title for Himself. These statements began with the words: “I am…” The very name God told Moses to use when speaking to Pharaoh in Egypt. Listen to what He told them:
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.
I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
When Jesus was born, God instructed Joseph to name this male child Jesus. We lose so much understanding because we are not Jewish. In fact His name in Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages which Jesus spoke), He was called “Yeshua,” which means salvation. For His whole life Jesus was known in His own culture and world as Yeshua!
When Jesus lived on earth, kings were given authority in ceremonies where they were anointed with olive oil. Yeshua became known as the “Mashiach” (Messiah) or “Anointed One.” He was anointed with God’s authority, and so became known as Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Yeshua the Anointed One.
So why do we say His name is Jesus Christ as though referring to His first and last name? New Testament manuscripts written in Greek translated Yeshua (Hebrew) as “Iesous” (pronounced yay-soos). This Greek word translated into English is “Jesus.” The word for Mashiach (Anointed One) in Greek is “Christos” (anointed). In English “Christ.”
Jesus Christ is … the Great “I AM”… the full measure of God’s revelation … of His nature, character, deity, authority, sovereignty, and grace.
Do you know His name? What is your relationship with Him?
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