The SignificanceWhat's in a name? Do the titles and names of Jesus hold a significance? In the days when the Bible was being written, the Israelites often chose names for their babies based on the child's character or appearance, i.e. Esau (hairy) and Korah (bald). Some babies were named because of an incident at their birth or their names were based on some hope or prayer of the parent, as in Zechariah's name (God has remembered). Sometimes babies received the name of an everyday object, like Tamar (palm tree), and Tabitha (gazelle). Parents often named their children by the time of day they were born. For example: Shaharaim (dawn), Hodesh (new moon). The condition of the mother also frequently inspired a name: Leah (exhausted) and Mahli (sick).
Jesus was named prophetically. Matthew 1:20-23 says, "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' - which means, 'God with us.'"
Why are there so many different names of Jesus? The names serve as a description of who Jesus is and how He works in the lives of individuals. Some scholars have located over 700 titles and different names for Jesus in the Bible. Let's study a few of them here:
God - Jesus is called God in several passages in the Bible. Along with His sinless life, miracles, and resurrection from the dead, His claims to be God stand firm (John 20:28).
Word - This title was used by the apostle John to describe the mission of Jesus. The title states Jesus' Godhead and eternal and absolute deity (John 1:1, 14).
Messiah - The long awaited "anointed one" who would deliver Israel. Jesus came to deliver mankind from sin and death (John 4:25-26).
Alpha and Omega - These two characters were the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This descriptive title expresses the eternal nature of God - the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 22:13).
Savior - Jesus is the person who rescues mankind from an eternity in hell.
Redeemer - "One who frees or delivers another from difficulty, danger, or bondage, usually by the payment of a ransom price." In the New Testament, Jesus is viewed as the ultimate Redeemer who gave His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45, Titus 2:14).
Light of the World - Jesus is the Person who brings true knowledge of God. Those who reject this light bring judgment upon themselves (John 8:12; 3:19-21).
Lamb of God - This title refers to the Old Testament sacrificial system where God accepted the blood of animals as atonement for sin (John 1:29, 36). Jesus' blood made atonement for sin!
Ruler of Creation - Christ existed before the creation of the world and He is sovereign over it (Revelation 3:14).
Mediator - Because Jesus is fully God, He can represent God to man. Because He is fully man, Jesus can represent man to God. Reconciliation is possible (1 Timothy 2:5).
Bread of Life - Jesus is the one and only supplier of true spiritual nourishment (John 6:35).
Way, Truth, and Life - Jesus is the only way to heaven, the only source of truth, and the foundation of all life (John 14:6)!
This is a short, but inspiring list of the names describing Who this baby born to Joseph and Mary would become. But their ultimate meanings only find significance it they mean something to individuals like you and me! What do the names of Jesus mean to you? Do they have personal significance? Is Jesus your Savior, your Mediator, your Redeemer? If not, we encourage you to learn more about Him and accept the gift of salvation He has offered to you.