The Many Names of God –

Names of Jesus – Part 2


Luke 3:23, 4:16-23; John 1:45, 6:41-42, Son of Joseph/the carpenter's son
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 59: Matthew 2:13-23, The Flight into Egypt, by Bernhard Plockhorst
Mark 6:1-4, Son of Mary
Isaiah 7:10-14; Matthew 1:19-23, Emmanuel
Acts 4:9-18, 5:27-29, Jesus

More Names of God

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Luke 3:23, 4:16-23; John 1:45, 6:41-42, Son of Joseph/the carpenter's son (2/9/2009)

Did you know that surnames weren't invented until roughly the 12th century? English surnames like Hunter, Farmer, and Cooper tell you the occupation of your 12th-century ancestors in the direct male line. Another very common source of surnames in many languages is "son of...". Bar- (Hebrew), Mac- (Scottish), O'- (Irish), Ap- or P- (Welsh), -son (English), and -sohn (German) all mean "son of...". Before it turned into a surname, "son of ..." was used in such diverse times and places as the ancient Kingdom of Israel and the British Isles prior to the 12th-century to designate family relationships. So sometimes when Jesus is called the "Son of Joseph," it just means, "Jesus the son of Joseph, as opposed to Jesus the son of James." Our first two scriptures are of this sort. Philip even adds an address, presumably to distinguish Jesus bar Joseph of Nazareth from Jesus bar Joseph from some other village. (This was before Jesus was famous.)

Other times, this phrase can carry the connotation of "a guy we've known since he was a little kid." Anybody you've known since he was a little kid can't possibly be important! Parents often have this response. Our second two scriptures express this kind of skepticism.


Mark 6:1-4, Son of Mary (2/10/2009)

Did you see the article in the paper the other day about President Obama's brother getting busted for having a little bit of marijuana? Now, it's illegal, and I'm not defending him. But here's a fellow I never heard of before, who lives far, far away, and suddenly the President of the most powerful country in the world is getting some bad press because a half-brother that he hardly knows has gotten into trouble. Not to mention that the brother is getting international notoriety for a very minor crime. We saw the same sort of thing with Bill Clinton's brother and Jack Kennedy's father, and probably others that I don't remember. (I don't think Clinton and Kennedy were arrested; they just did something embarrassing.) Sometimes it just doesn't pay to have a family.

When Jesus visited Nazareth after he became famous, people used the fact that they knew his mother Mary and his brothers and sisters as an excuse for discounting what he was saying and doing. They said, "Isn't this Mary's boy?" It's sort of ironic that the Catholic Church venerates Mary because she was Jesus' mother, when his own neighbors spurned him for being her son!


Isaiah 7:10-14; Matthew 1:19-23, Emmanuel (2/11/2009)

We have read a number of scriptures that everyone in the Judeo-Christian community agrees are Messianic prophecies. We have read some that scholars disagree about, but not necessarily along Jewish/Christian lines. Today we read two passages that most Christians accept as parallels: a Messianic prophecy and a New Testament fulfillment. It appears to me that (1) many, perhaps most, Messianic Jews agree with that interpretation, and that (2) some few Jewish scholars take the OT passage as a Messianic, without, of course, agreeing that Jesus' birth is the fulfillment of it. It also appears that many Jewish scholars and some few Christian scholars do not think the OT passage is Messianic in the first place.

Although I'm going to spare you the details – because frankly even I did not find them riveting, the discussion centers around two points:
The first point is that alma possibly could mean "young woman" and is sometimes translated that way, but some scholars maintain that it is never used in the Bible except to mean "virgin," and more to the point, that the Greek Septuagint, prepared about 300 BC by rabbis for Jews, uses a Greek word that means "virgin." The second point is the whole you/y'all problem that we've seen many times.

The one thing that practically everyone does agree on is that "Emmanuel" or "Immanuel" means "God with us." (At least one person argues earnestly that it in fact means "God is with us," a distinction without a difference, since we've already learned that "to be" is rarely written out in Hebrew.) Emmanu or immanu is Hebrew for "with us," and El is one of the Hebrew names for God that we've seen several times before. Many years ago, I heard the Rev. Russell Parchman preach a wonderful Christmas sermon in which he pointed out that God is not for us, like a football fan in the stands, but with us, right here on the playing field.
Acts 4:9-18, 5:27-29, Jesus (2/12/2009)

Did you see in the paper the other day that Val Kilmer says he has such good "name recognition" that if he runs for governor of New Mexico, he will win, period? Do you have "a good name"? Do you "have a name for" something? Do you shop for specific "brand names"? These are modern illustrations of an extremely old idea: the name and the person (or object) are identical.

We all know that Jesus' name was "Jesus," but I think we have gotten out of the habit of thinking about the person Jesus and the name "Jesus" as identical. Consequently we occasionally fall into the trap of thinking that the name "Jesus" is some kind of magical incantation. We say "In Jesus name amen" to ensure that our prayers are valid, without stopping to think about whether Jesus would pray for the same thing. We disobey traffic laws designed to protect public safety, secure in the belief that our "WWJD?" bumper sticker and our dashboard Jesus will keep us safe.

Peter, John, and the High Priests and Council did not make this mistake. Peter and John knew that "the name of Jesus" had the power to heal, not because of a magical incantation but rather because Jesus is innately powerful. The High Priests forbade preaching or teaching "in this name" because they knew that Jesus himself had the power to change lives. We dilute the power of Christ and the effectiveness of the Church when we use "Jesus" as an ordinary word instead of letting Jesus use us as an ordinary tool.


More Names of God
Names of God - Introduction
Sacred Names - Part 1
Sacred Names - Part 2
Other Names - Part 1
Other Names - Part 2
Other Names - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 1
Names of Jesus - Part 2
Names of Jesus - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 4
Names of Jesus - Part 5
Names of Jesus - Part 6
Names of Jesus - Part 7
Names of Jesus - Part 8
Names of Jesus - Part 9
Names of the Spirit

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