Call His Name "Jesus"
by Rev. Donald L. Rose
In the Christmas story the angelic prediction of the birth of the Lord emphasizes the name that would be used.
In Matthew we have the angel telling Joseph, "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save his people from their sins." (Notice the large capital letters used.) Then the first chapter of Matthew ends with the words, "and he called His name JESUS." Then the second chapter opens with the words, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem . . ."
In Luke we have the angel telling Mary to "call his name JESUS." Then in the next chapter we read that "His name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb." Have you noticed the large capital letters used in the Bible? These were introduced in 1611 with the King James Version. In the Gospels the only places where the King James translators introduced the large letters were the inscription on the cross (i.e. Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19) and the four references to the name JESUS in the Christmas story. Their decision to employ the large capitals came from their appreciation of the importance of the name "Jesus."
One cannot help being impressed with how often the name "Jesus" is used in the Four Gospels. The eighty (circa) pages of the Epistles mention the name "Jesus" by itself only some four dozen times. In the one hundred pages of the Gospels that name is used some six hundred times! ! (And we shall be quoting figures on this in a moment.)
Virtually everywhere one opens the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John one finds the name "Jesus." Ought we to use that name more often than we do?
A Letter in 1970
Ten years ago (in April of 1970, to be exact) a letter appeared in this journal under the heading The Temptations of Jesus. The writer said, "The use of the name Jesus in the title of this letter is deliberate. How often does that name appear in NEW CHURCH LIFE, except in quotations from the Gospels? Very rarely. This is understandable as a reaction against Protestant use of the name almost exclusively and with connotations of the Lord's mere humanity." He went on to say that the avoidance of the name Jesus might be associated with a neglect of the acceptance of our Lord's humanness.
Eleven months later a responding letter from England was published under the title The Shining Name of Jesus. This letter brought out a number of relevant teachings, including the following:
Some in the other world were able to say "Christ" but could not say "Jesus." (TCR 111) No satan can bear to hear Jesus named. (TCR 380) "In the spiritual world, where all are obliged to speak as they think, no one can even mention the name Jesus unless he has lived in the world as a Christian." (DP 262). There is a special warmth in using the name Jesus, for this name especially calls to mind the Divine good. We may say the name Jesus with newly revealed truths shining in our minds. It is a name that can be filled with Divine majesty. Indeed the Writings confirm the saying of the apostle that at the name "Jesus" every knee should bow in heaven and on earth (TCR 297).
The letter mentioned the teaching that faith is "a complex of truths shining in the mind" (TCR 347) and the teaching that the name of the Lord involves the whole complex of truths which make up our idea of the Lord. Faith in the Lord is compared to a star (TCR 348). When the Lord says that He is the "star," He calls Himself Jesus, and this involves the promise that He will come with new light, which will arise before His New Church. (AR 954) "I Jesus have sent mine angel . . . I am the bright and morning star . . . Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22)
New Church Home, December, 1978
In 1978 the Christmas issue of New Church Home contained an article by Bishop George De Charms entitled The Use of the Name Jesus. From this we quote the following:
"Jesus means Saviour, and it represents the Divine love for the salvation of the human race. This love was the infinite Soul of the Lord, and it was the Divine Seed of His conception. This being so, the name Jesus is the same in meaning as Jehovah, for He it was who came into the world by birth from a virgin."
While Jesus is the name of Jehovah it is "at the same time the name of the Human which the Lord took on in the world. It is therefore the inmost, and at the same time, the most ultimate of all the Lord's names. Etymologically, the name Jesus means Saviour, and the Lord became the Saviour by His birth into the world."
Quoting from Apocalypse Revealed 953 and the words, "I Jesus have sent My angel to testify," Bishop De Charms goes on to say, "Note here the important teaching that to 'testify' means, not only that Jehovah, or Jesus revealed to John the Evangelist the things declared in the Book of Revelation, but that He it is who now opens to men the inner meaning of the book in the Heavenly Doctrine."
"On examination we find this name used 604 times in the Gospels and the Apocalypse. It is found 161 times in Matthew, 93 times in Mark, 98 times in Luke, 240 times in John, and 7 times in the Apocalypse."
We may conclude that the Evangelists "were inspired to use the name Jesus when writing the Gospels, in order to represent the Saviour as He was known on earth, and at the same time, as He was known in heaven. He was known on earth as Jesus, because this was the name of the Human assumed in the world; but He was known in heaven as Jesus, because that name means the infinite love of God for the salvation of the whole human race - that is, it means the same as 'Jehovah.' When, therefore, a person reads the name 'Jesus' in the Word, it brings association with the angels, and especially the celestial angels who are in love to the Lord. This is the case if the Word is read with reverence, even if the meaning of the name is not understood. If the inner meaning of the name had been openly disclosed while the Lord was in the world, it would have been universally rejected. The Jews could not possibly believe that Jesus was Jehovah. They could, however, believe that He was the Messiah promised by the prophets, for in this case they would think of Him, not as Jehovah, but as One sent by Jehovah to save them."
Closing Paragraph with Implications on How We Teach
In the final paragraph of this article, which we have only quoted in part, Bishop De Charms offers the following thoughts: "I have pondered the question as to why, in the New Church, we so seldom refer to the Lord as ĎJesus.' The main reason is, undoubtedly, because we are told in the Writings that 'the Lord' is the name of God for the New Church, because it means the Divine Human. A further reason probably is because, in the modern Christian world, the name 'Jesus' has been so widely profaned. Yet, I would suggest that since we are told in the Writings the true meaning of the name 'Jesus' we should use it more often, and especially in teaching the Gospel stories to our children. It seems to me that they should be introduced to the special feeling of holiness which the Writings assign to this name, both as a protection against the profane use of it in the world around them, and for the sake of the heavenly associations it brings when the Word is rightly read. It is the most exalted name of the Lord to be found in the New Testament, because it is the name of the Lord's infinite Soul; and it is the most ultimate name, because it refers also to the Human assumed in the world. When little children are thinking of the Lord as the Babe adored by the shepherds, they can receive a fuller influx from heaven if they think of Him as 'Jesus.' So also when He was presented in the temple, and when He received the gifts of the wise men. But also, when He healed diseases, and raised the dead, and blessed little children. Would it not be well for our children to associate with these Divine acts the name 'Jesus' which the Evangelists were inspired to call the Lord? Would this be contrary to the Divine command to use 'the Lord' when referring to the Divine Human? Since to the angels 'Jesus' means the same as 'Jehovah,' I would be disposed to think that our children should be introduced to the use of it, and taught to hold it in the deepest reverence."
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The writers quoted above allude to a passage at the very beginning of the Arcana Coelestia. This passage, which answers the question why the name 'Jesus' is used less than a dozen times in the whole of that long work, reads as follows:
"In the following work, by the name LORD is meant the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, and Him only; and He is called 'the Lord' without the addition of other names. Throughout the universal heaven, He it is who is acknowledged and adored as Lord, because He has all sovereign power in the heavens and on earth. He also commanded His disciples so to call Him, saying, 'Ye call Me Lord, and ye say well, for I am.' (John xiii. 13). And after His resurrection His disciples called Him 'Lord'. " (AC 14)
These are some of the relevant things concerning the use of the name "Jesus." We invite further consideration and discussion from our readers. We have chosen to do this at the time of the year when we turn to those words in the Christmas story, "and thou shalt call his name JESUS."
-Editorial, New Church Life 1980;100:589-592