And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)
What is in a Name?
During arguably the most famous scene in Shakespeare’s most famous play (Romeo & Juliet), Juliet poses the question “what is in a name?”. It’s a fair question, and one that on the surface seems designed to fill theatre seats and just be flowery language. But in reading the verses in Philippians and exploring the worship song “Worthy of your name”, I think it’s a question worth revisiting. Not to explore what Juliet had in mind; but what God had in mind, and what Paul had in mind in writing what he did in Philippians 2, where it says that God "gave Jesus the name above every other name".
Biblically, names are powerful predictors of what or who a person will become. Even a high-level look at the old testament shows us the ways that a persons name was often a “self-fulfilling prophecy” or how the changing of a name would represent a promise God that would bring about through that person. From Abraham the father of our faith, whose name means – Father of Nations (or “Big Papa” as I like to think), or “Jacob, the deceiver”, who ended up deceiving his brother Esau, to Moses who would part the waters and save His nation, whose name means “saved through water”, to so many other examples; it is clear, God is at work in our names.
So what about Jesus? What does it mean that God has “bestowed on Him the name above every other name” and how is he “Worthy of His name”?
Jesus’ Mom and earthly Dad were told they would miraculously have a son and to name him “Jesus” because he will "save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). How crazy was that moment…you've got to think all kinds of questions popped up. Beyond just “was that an angel?”, “are we sure that you're prego?”, “are we getting punk'd right now? Is Ashton here?”. But “name him Jesus” (which literally means “the Lord saves”) “because he will save his people from their SINS”. Not save them from the Philistines, or the economy, or the black plague, but from the source of all suffering and sorrow in the world – sin.
Could this actually be possible?
That a child who needed his diaper changed, to feed every few hours, and take naps could grow up to provide the solution to the greatest epidemic infecting our world, sin? The “what he would do” (save them) was told to them, but the “how” was not. Maybe they thought he would re-establish the nation as a world power and overthrow the Romans? Maybe they thought he would establish the Monarchy and Royal line of David. But no one thought that Jesus, “the one who saves”, would do so by refusing to save himself. But that is exactly what happened.
Jesus the Christ, or literally “The One who saves” (Jesus), “The chosen one” (Christ), would lay down his life to save all people from their sins. The Chosen one rejected so that I might be accepted. He did and has in fact lived up to being “Worthy of His name”. In living out the meaning of His name, we were given access to the meaning of life – to know Jesus, the one who saves.
What is in a name? When it comes to Jesus...everything.
Above all others...Jesus, You are worthy of Your name.