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  • Writer's pictureRon Heisey

What's in a name?

We live in a world where it is common to assign nicknames to people, either someone close to us or perhaps a celebrity in sports, entertainment, or the arts.

A definition of a nickname is a descriptive name added to or replacing one’s actual name.

Some nicknames identify a person to millions of people: Here are a few:

The Man of Steel Superman

The Caped Crusader Batman

Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe

The Velvet Fog Mel Torme

Sweetness Walter Payton

The Man in Black Johnny Cash

The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher

The Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon

The Stilt Wilt Chamberlain

The Duke John Wayne

The Minister of Defense Reggie White

The Boss Bruce Springsteen

Prime Time Deion Sanders

Hammering Hank Henry Aaron

These names are all descriptive. When you hear he name associated with that famous person, you are reminded of a quality or characteristic that made the person exceptional in their chosen endeavor. We have linked up in our minds an image of the person based on the nickname, or more specifically the qualities represented by the name. If you ever have the opportunity to meet him or her, you will approach the relationship from that mental image. And if you knew more than one descriptive name for someone, you would know more about them, you would feel even closer.

Are there Jesus nicknames we can learn and use?

What happens if we increase our Jesus vocabulary?

One way is to learn and use some of the many nicknames given to Jesus in the Bible. Each of them reminds us of another of His roles or character traits. As you ponder and pursue your relationship with Him, how many different names do you use? The more you know and use, the deeper and more meaningful will be your relationship. I have a poster in my office about Jesus, and it lists 55 names for Jesus. If we review a few of those, we can see how they could enrich our relationship.

Revelation 22:13- The Alpha and Omega- Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They remind us that Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting. We are reminded that our relationship with Him will be eternal. He had no beginning, and will have no end. We can offer our gratitude for that eternal relationship.

Hebrews 12:2- the author and finisher of our faith- Jesus begins our faith, he controls it, steers it, cares for it, and perfects it. He tells us elsewhere that if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed, He will make it grow and blossom so that we could move mountains. We can ask Him to perfect and grow our faith.

John 6:35- the Bread of life- Jesus tells us that he is as essential for life as our daily sustenance, and takes us from a focus on the physical to the spiritual. We can thank Him for sustaining both our physical and our spiritual lives.

1Thess.1:10- Deliverer- no matter what chains are holding us and how strong they may be, Jesus can break them and set us free! This is a reminder of one of the main themes of the Bible- salvation- and reminds us that He is the one responsible for it. We can claim that deliverance from any chains that are holding us captive.

John 10:11- the Good shepherd- Jesus here reminds us his goodness, righteousness, and beauty. As shepherd, he guides, leads, and nurtures his flock. Shepherds live with their sheep, to the point that the sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. We can praise Him for the shepherding He so tenderly provides in our lives.

Hebrews 4:14- the Great high priest- Priests in the Old Testament were set aside for temple service, and they interceded with God on behalf of their people. They interceded regularly and often for people. As the great high priest, Jesus lived a perfect life and only needed to intercede once for all time on behalf of his people, and our sins were forgiven. We can express our gratitude for His intercession on our behalf.

Isaiah 7:14- Immanuel- Immanuel translated means God with us. It reminds us of the nature of Jesus. He is God who became human. He did so to make man’s redemption possible. When we ponder the significance, it takes our breath away. Let’s tell Him that.

1Timothy 2:5- the Mediator- God has a dispute with us because of sin. Sin’s penalty is death. There is nothing we can do to mediate sin’s penalty ourselves. That’s the role Jesus plays for us. He pleads our case for us to God, and makes possible the cancellation of our sin debt. We can thank Him for mediating on our behalf.

Job 19:25- the Redeemer- Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has freed all of us from bondage to sin. His death, undeserved because He was without sin, redeemed us. Scripture tells us that “everyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ will be saved.” We are so grateful that His death redeemed us.

1Cor.15:3-4- the Risen Lord- The resurrection of our Lord Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. According to the Nicene Creed, “On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.” We praise Him that the Scriptural promise of a resurrection were fulfilled.

So these have been ten of the names that Scripture attach to Jesus. Each of them reminds us of an aspect, character trait, or role of Jesus. There are many more. In fact, the preacher Billy Sunday said: “There are 256 names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose that was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”

“A certain joyful, though humble, confidence becomes us when we pray in the Mediator's name. It is due to Him; when we pray in His name it should be without wavering. Remember His merits, and how prevalent they must be. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace."” - Nehemiah Adams

As we learn more of the Biblical names for Jesus, and use them in our worship time and in our conversations with Jesus, we will discover a new richness and depth to that relationship. We will be increasing our Jesus vocabulary. It is a worthwhile exercise to research the Biblical references of various names given to Jesus. As we pray about them and reflect on them, some will resonate with us more than others. Use them in your worship time, and you will be constantly reminded of the many ways that Jesus has impacted all of our lives.

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