THE WORD IS
I once received a letter. The writer had noticed that in one of my writings I had used the word Christ but had not used the word Jesus at all. The writer of the letter said: "For a believer it is by no means the same whether one uses Christ, Savior or Lord. All of these names sound like inferior substitutes for the name Jesus."
What name then are we to use when speaking of Jesus?
We immediately answer: The same names that the Bible uses. The Bible calls Jesus by various names. Each name tells us something about Him.
JESUS. This is the most common name. In one of our hymns we sing: "Jesus! Name of wondrous love, Name all other names above." Not above the other names for Jesus, but above the names of other people. Why is it above other names? Because Jesus means Savior. "You shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21).
All people, however, did not recognize Jesus as the Savior on the basis of this name because Jesus was a common name at that time. The Hebrew name, Joshua, is Jesus in Greek. The name Jesus is used of others besides Jesus: The son of Eliezer (Luke 3:29), Justus (Col. 4:11), and in the original language it is also used of Joshua (Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8). For this reason another name was needed, a name that immediately revealed that the promised Savior was meant.
This name was CHRIST. Christ means annointed and its corresponding Hebrew word is MESSIAH. This name proclaims that Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is the One promised in the Old Testament, the One who would atone for our sins, God's Son. Jesus once asked His disciples: "Who do you say that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:15,16). Jesus approved of this name and said: "Blessed are you, Simon Barjonas, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Blessed is also he, who today has come to know Jesus as the Christ, God's Son, the One who for our salvation became man.
THE SON OF MAN AND THE SON OF GOD. Bible readers do not often attach any significance to the difference in meaning between these two names. But when we do, wondrous, unfathomable depths open up to us in the Bible. The Son of Man tells us of Jesus Christ according to His human nature; the Son of God tells us of Jesus Christ according to His divine nature.
We learn that the blood of Jesus is the blood of the Son of God. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). A precious price has been paid for the atonement of our sins. But because it is the blood of the Son of God it is a price that is sufficient for you, for me, for the greatest sinner. The Lord's Supper becomes a very special meal because we receive the body and blood of God's Son when we partake of it. When we know Jesus as God's Son, we cannot doubt our salvation.
We must humbly confess our lack of understanding when we think of the name, Son of Man. Jesus, speaking to Nicodemus, said: "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man, who is in heaven" (John 3:13). Can we understand this? Jesus, as the Son of Man, is, at the same time that He is talking to Nicodemus, also in heaven. No, we cannot understand this. It is a matter of faith. But when we have such a wonderful Jesus or Savior, will we not gladly hear Him and believe in Him even though we cannot with our reason comprehend everything He says. One of His names, remember, is WONDERFUL.
Jesus also has other names in the Bible. Let us use all of them. They tell us why the name Jesus is above every other name.