Jesus…that name above all names
Jesus continued His high priestly, intercessory prayer to His Father – “’I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.’” (John 17: 6-8) What did Jesus mean when He said that He had ‘manifested’ God’s name to His disciples? Before Jesus’ ministry, what did the Jews understand about God and His name?
Consider this quote – “The remarkable turn in biblical theology is that the living God is progressively known through actual historical events in which He discloses Himself and His purposes. The generic terms for Deity thereby gain more specific content, become proper names, and these successively give way to later designations that reflect more fully the progressively revealed nature of God.” (Pfeiffer 689) God’s name is first revealed in the Old Testament as ‘Elohim’ in Gen. 1: 1, depicting God in the role of Creator, Maker, and Preserver of man and the world; ‘YHWH’ or Yahweh (Jehovah) in Gen. 2:4, meaning Lord God or self-existent One – literally ‘He that is who He is’ or the eternal ‘I AM’ (Yahweh is also God’s ‘redemption’ name). After man sinned, it was Jehovah Elohim who sought them and provided coats of skin for them (foreshadowing the robes of righteousness that Jesus would later provide). Compound names of Jehovah are found in the Old Testament, such as ‘Jehovah-jireh’ (Gen. 22: 13-14) ‘The-Lord-Will-Provide’; ‘Jehovah-rapha’ (Ex. 15: 26) ‘the Lord who heals you’; ‘Jehovah-nissi’ (Ex. 17: 8-15) ‘The-Lord-Is-My-Banner’; ‘Jehovah-shalom’ (Judg. 6: 24) ‘The-Lord-Is-Peace’; ‘Jehovah-tsidkenu’ (Jer. 23: 6) ‘The Lord Our Righteousness’; and ‘Jehovah-shammah’ (Ezek. 48: 35) ‘The Lord Is There’.
In Gen. 15: 2, God’s name is introduced as ‘Adonai’ or ‘Lord God’ (Master). The name ‘El Shaddai’ is used in Gen. 17: 1, as the strengthener, satisfier, and bestower of fruitfulness of His people (Scofield 31). This name of God was introduced when God made a covenant with Abraham, miraculously making him a father when he was 99 years old. God is referred to as ‘El Olam’ or ‘Everlasting God’ in Gen. 21: 33, as God of hidden things and things eternal. God is referred to as ‘Jehovah Sabaoth,’ meaning ‘Lord of Hosts’ in 1 Sam. 1: 3. The word ‘hosts’ refers to heavenly bodies, angels, saints, and sinners. As Lord of hosts, God is able use whatever ‘hosts’ He needs to in order to fulfill His will and help His people.
How did Jesus manifest God’s name to His disciples? He personally revealed God’s nature to them. Jesus also clearly and distinctly identified Himself as God when He made the following statements: “’I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” (John 6: 35); “’I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” (John 8: 12); “’Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’” (John 10: 7-9); “’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.’” (John 10: 11-14); “’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.’” (John 11: 25-26a); “’I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14: 6); “’I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.’” (John 15: 1); and “’I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.’” (John 15: 5)
Jesus is our spiritual nourishment, as our Bread of Life. He is our spiritual Light, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead as it says in Col. 1: 19. He is our only Door to spiritual salvation. He is our Shepherd who gave His life for us, and who knows us personally. Jesus is our resurrection and our life, which we can find in no one or nothing else. Jesus is our way through this life and into eternity. He is our truth, in Him are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Jesus is our vine, giving us His sustaining enabling strength and grace to live and to grow to be more like He is.
We are “complete” in Jesus Christ. What did Paul mean when he wrote this to the Colossians? The Colossians were focusing more on shadows of Jesus, than on Jesus. They had began placing emphasis on circumcision, what they were eating and drinking and on various festivals. They had allowed the shadows that had been given to show people their need for the coming Messiah to become more important than the reality of what took place after Jesus came. Paul said that the substance is of Christ, and that we need to hold fast to Him. Christ “in” us, is our hope. May we cling to Him, embracing Him fully and not become mesmerized by the shadows!
Pfeiffer, Charles F., Howard F. Vos, and John Rea, eds. Wycliffe Bible Dictionary. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998.
Scofield, C.I., D.D., ed. The Scofield Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.