Name above All Names

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Name of Jesus, commemorating Jesus’ circumcision and dedication at the Temple, which was also the day His name was officially recorded (Luke 2:21). So much could be, and has been, said about the events of this day–about the way Mary and Joseph obeyed the Law on Jesus’ behalf, even though there was no need for a sin offering on behalf of the Sinless; about the meetings with Simeon and Anna, the way the Holy Spirit brought them there to meet the One they’d hoped to see for so long, what we know they said and what more they might have said that Luke doesn’t record; about Luke’s statement that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. But instead, I think I’d like to focus on what Scripture itself (here in the NASB, with occasional emphasis added) tells us about Yeshua Meshiach, the Name of the Man from Galilee:

1. It is the greatest, most powerful name in all creation.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
–Philippians 2:9-11

2. It is salvation to those who believe.

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
–Matthew 1:20-21

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
–John 20:30-31

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
–Acts 2:38-39

“[T]here is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
–Acts 4:12

3. It is a name of authority and unity among believers, and the name with which believers are most associated.

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
–1 Corinthians 1:10

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
–Colossians 3:17

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
–2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

4. It brings healing.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
–Acts 3:1-8

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”
–Acts 4:8-12

5. It drives out demons.

It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
–Acts 16:16-18

6. It is not magic.

God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
–Acts 19:11-16

(This, incidentally, is one of my many quibbles with Supernatural, even though I’m still a fan: exorcisms in the name of Christ having power over demons even in the mouths of atheists and even though it’s not clear that Jesus is the Son of God in that fictional world. Pardon my Texan, but it don’t work that way, son!)

TL;DR: Jesus’ name not only means “God saves” but is the name–indeed, the only name–by which we are offered and may receive salvation. Not only that, but when we act in Jesus’ name and in accordance with His will, we act in His authority and serve as His instruments to defeat evil and bring light, hope, and healing to those in need. And that’s worth celebrating!

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