Exploring the Names of Jesus
December 20, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
One of the wonders of Jesus Christ is the vast number of names given to him in the Bible. Jesus, being the infinite Son of God, is far too magnificent to be summarized by one name or title. Like a multi-faceted precious gem, each name gives us a different angle to marvel at the majesty of Christ.
During the Christmas season, some of the more obscure names of Christ pop up, especially while singing some of the traditional carols. Hymn writers throughout the ages have loved to celebrate the various Old Testament prophecies of Christ through these Advent carols. Some of the prophecies use a name for the promised Messiah to hint at the coming blessing.
The well-loved carol at Oak Hills, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, is one of those carols that highlights some of the more obscure names of Christ. Let’s look at some of the biblical backgrounds to these names and their significance for us today.
- Emmanuel. Perhaps the most familiar of the names in this carol. This name is introduced in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This prophecy is quoted in Matthew 1:23 with the explanation of the name “which means, God with us.” This is such a beautiful promise for us. Jesus is God with us. We are assured of his presence and comfort even when we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”
- Rod of Jesse. This title comes from the King James translation of Isaiah 11:1, “There shall come forth a shoot (rod) from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Isaiah is reflecting on the impending judgment on Israel and the house of David. The people of Israel and the line of David would not be eradicated, though. The promise of a remnant and an offspring of Jesse to arise springs from God’s faithfulness to keep covenant. He promised David a descendent to sit on his throne forever. As the Rod of Jesse, Jesus reminds us that God will not fail to keep his promises to us.
- Key of David. This is not used specifically as a name or title for Jesus, but it does reflect the promise of his righteous reign. God says in Isaiah 22:22, “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” The symbol of the “key” speaks of authority. Jesus comes with the full authority of David’s kingdom. As the sinless king, his rule is marked by justice and peace.
- Dayspring. This is another title coming from the King James translation. At the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah celebrates the link between his son and the coming Messiah. He says in Luke 1:76 & 78, “you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High…because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise (Dayspring) shall visit us from on high.” Zechariah knew that his son was not the Messiah. But he also knew that the Messiah would be like the dawn, bringing a new day, a new era, light into the midst of darkness. Christ, as our Dayspring, reminds us that we have new life because of his coming.
- Desire of Nations. From the very beginning of the story, God had plans for “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3), not just Abraham’s descendants. Throughout the Old Testament this plan is unveiled more and more. “Desire of nations” is used near the end of the OT, speaking about the rebuilding of the temple. “And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures (KJV: Desire) of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts” (Hag 2:7). This speaks both of Jesus’ embodiment of the temple ministry (priesthood and sacrifice) and his great commission to draw the nations to himself. Jesus is the Desire of Nations, whether they acknowledge it or not. And he becomes our desire when we come to be satisfied with all God has for us in Christ.