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A Well-Known Prophecy
The Old Testament prophesied the coming of an Anointed One, a Deliverer like Moses who would be born to set his people free — not from an oppressive nation-state but from their sinful-state as traitors before the law of God.
As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Is. 9:6–7)
Mighty. Everlasting. Prince. Greatness!
Title vs Name
The Hebrew term for this heroic figure is Messiah. The Greek term is Christ (χριστός — Christos), which is not his name as much as it is his title. Just as Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is the Christ. Christ is not his last name. :)
As the angel directed Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “ “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So, just to make it clear, the Savior’s title is Christ, but his name is Jesus, which in English is transliterated from the Greek form of his name, Ἰησοῦς — Iēsous, which is translated from the Hebrew version of Jesus’ name, which is Yeshua, or in English, Joshua, a name which means “the LORD (Yahweh) saves.”
I give you that Hebrew and Greek background so that you will not think me a heretic when I tell you what a powerful spiritual moment it was for me when I stopped (primarily) calling Christ, Christ, and began calling him by his name, Jesus.
Power in the Name
I discovered that there really is power in the name.
Now, is it wrong to call Jesus “Christ,” or “Christ Jesus” or even “Jesus Christ?” Of course not. The Bible uses a variety of combinations when referring to the person of Jesus.
An illustration may help.
Some people call me Pastor, some Reverend, and others Doctor. Those are titles. When I am addressed like that, it may be meant as a token of respect, but the nature of the title creates a sense of relational distance. The same thing may go for someone called Coach, or Judge, or Mayor. Those are titles, not names. They communicate formality, not intimacy.
I would much rather be called by my name. Especially from those with whom I desire to be close, informal, and personal. After all, if we want intimacy, we use someone’s name, even if a nickname. If my children refer to me as their parent, they may say, “This is my father.” But when they call me on the phone, they say, “Hello, Daddy!”
Does that make sense?
Until about 2001, I referred to the second person of the Trinity almost exclusively as Christ. Was that bad? No. Jesus is the Christ! But at some point, a switch flipped and I began to use his personal name, Jesus.
It is hard to describe the difference in how it felt to address him that way. It felt like a movement of my heart from religious formalism into a new realm of spiritual intimacy.
A Doorway to Intimacy
This may not be an issue for you. If not, be grateful. But for me, calling Jesus, Jesus was a doorway into a more personal knowing of the Savior, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. For me, the name Jesus became the corridor to intimacy.
If you struggle to feel close, personal, and intimately connected to the Christ, try calling him Jesus. John Newton did… and a hymn happened.
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole, and calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary rest.
Dear Name! the Rock on which we build; our shield and hiding-place;
Our never-failing treasury, filled with boundless stores of grace.
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