(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
The name Jesus is a special name. It’s actually the most special name in the universe! Philippians 2:9 tells us that God highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him “the name which is above every name.”
In addition to Jesus, in the New Testament we can find many other names for our Lord that are rich in meaning and communicate a particular aspect of what He is to us.
In this post, we’ll cover five names for the Lord mentioned in the books of Matthew and John, using notes from the New Testament Recovery Version that explain their meaning. Taking a closer look at these names will increase our appreciation for this wonderful Person and help us know Him in a deeper way.
Jesus is the very first name mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 1:1. Matthew 1:21 says that it’s the name given to Him by God. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him:
“And she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”
But what does the name Jesus mean?
The first part of note 1 on this verse in the Recovery Version says:
“Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua (Num. 13:16), which means Jehovah the Savior, or the salvation of Jehovah. Hence, Jesus is not only a man but Jehovah, and not only Jehovah but Jehovah becoming our salvation. Thus, He is our Savior.”
Jehovah is the eternal, ever-existing God. Because the name Jesus means Jehovah the Saviour, this indicates to us that Jesus is Jehovah Himself who became a man to be our salvation. Only Jesus can save us from sin, God’s righteous judgment, Satan, the world, a life without meaning, and other negative things. Today, we can be saved from the many things that bother us by calling on the name of Jesus.
We can see another name for the Lord in Matthew 1:23:
“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel’ (which is translated, God with us).”
Note 2 on Emmanuel says:
“Jesus was the name given by God, whereas Emmanuel, meaning God with us, was the name by which man called Him. Jesus the Savior is God with us. He is God, and He is also God incarnated to dwell among us (John 1:14). He is not only God but God with us.”
For God to dwell among us and to be with us is a tremendous thing. Before He was incarnated as the man Jesus, God was far away from us, dwelling in the heavens in unapproachable light. But the Lord Jesus, who was the very God Himself, was an approachable man. He was truly Emmanuel, God with us.
In Matthew 28:20, after His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus reassured His disciples by saying, “Behold, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age.” This promise was not only for His disciples, but for all of us who believe in Him. In resurrection, Emmanuel became the life-giving Spirit to live in our spirit. When we were regenerated, we received Him into our human spirit, our deepest part. Now He lives in us, and we can experience God with us always!
Another name used in the New Testament to refer to the Lord is Christ. John 1:41 says:
“He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).”
Note 1 on Messiah in the Recovery Version tells us:
“Messiah is a Hebrew word; Christ is the Greek translation. Both mean the anointed. Christ is God’s Anointed, the One appointed by God to accomplish God’s purpose, God’s eternal plan.”
Christ was appointed by God to do His will and to carry out His eternal purpose. Christ was the One foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament and whom God’s people looked for.
Luke 4:17-21 shows us how the coming of Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the anointed One of God:
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to announce the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to send away in release those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of jubilee.’ And when He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant, He sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Christ is the One who brings the good news of His salvation to us. He heals our broken hearts, proclaims liberty to us, and opens our eyes. And when we receive Him, we receive the One who is working out God’s purpose to fulfill His desire.
Another name of the Lord Jesus is the Word.
The beginning of John chapter 1 is deep and profound. Verse 1 says:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Note 2 on Word says:
“The Word is the definition, explanation, and expression of God; hence it is God defined, explained, and expressed.”
Without Christ being the Word, God would be mysterious and unknowable to us. The Lord as the Word defined, explained, and expressed God to us. He declared to us who God is.
And note 3 says:
“The Word is not separate from God. It is not that the Word is the Word and God is God, and that they are thus separate from each other. Rather, the two are one; hence, the next clause says that the Word was God.”
The Word and God aren’t separate. The Word, who was in the beginning with God, was God.
We know that the Word refers to Jesus because John went on to say in verse 14:
“The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality.”
The Word, who is the very God, stepped out of eternity into time to become flesh. That is, He became incarnated as a man—Jesus. The eternal Word who was with God and who was God chose to join Himself to humanity. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was God’s dwelling place among His people. But here in the New Testament, the tabernacle was the Word who became flesh.
Lamb of God
Jesus is also the Lamb of God. In John 1:29, when John the Baptist was baptising people in Bethany, “he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Lamb of God is a particularly sweet name to all those who believe in the Lord. Hebrews 9:22 says:
“Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
This means that for God to forgive us of our sins, it was necessary for someone to die. That Someone was the precious, spotless Lamb of God who gave His life to redeem each one of us. Because He did this for us, we can’t help but love Him.
Just from the names of the Lord we’ve seen in this post, we can love and appreciate Him as Jesus, God who came to be our Saviour, and as Emmanuel, God who is with us always. We can praise Him as Christ, God’s anointed One who carries out God’s purpose, and as the Word, the One who expressed God in everything He did and said. And we can thank Him for being the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who sacrificed Himself to accomplish redemption for our sins.
We’ve only touched upon these five names in a simple way in this post. You can order a free copy of a New Testament Recovery Version to read all the notes on these verses in your personal study and see even more of who Christ is to us. He is so wonderful!