Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name
Philippians 2:9 | NIV | Other Versions | Context
God’s name is great. We all know that. In Exodus 3:14 we are first introduced to the name of God when he declared, I am who I am [Article]. We know that, but that isn’t what we’re going to ponder about today. Instead, we’re going to ponder about another name, given by God, a name that is above every other name – the name of the Son, Jesus Christ. And in this study, that’s all we’re going to meditate upon: his great name, by which we are granted salvation on.
In this analysis I will attempt to defend my case for why I believe that the name of the Son is great by listing out three reasons. Firstly, his name is great because it empowers. Secondly, it is great because it saves. Thirdly, it is great because we pray on it in assurance.
Have you ever met friends who have a shop or own some corporations, people who like to say, ‘just drop my name by the counter and you’ll get a discount’? That’s power, granted by the right of their ownership, or their exclusivity to the owner. Names are powerful that way. Have you ever been reassured just on hearing somebody’s name? Like, when you were playing a vital basketball match for the trophy and were losing, but the coach suddenly reminded you of a dear teammate who suffered a horrific injury en-route to the final – without him you wouldn’t have had made it to the final – and on hearing his name, you suddenly feel like you must win this game for his sake? Names do not only have power, but they empower others – It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans [3 John 1:7].
Salvation is a great power – it is the power to deny death and hell. We do not usually deserve this power, and we do not usually have this power – but we are given this right when we call on the name of Jesus – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. [Rom 10:13] It is a power given us because the name of Jesus is great and powerful. Well, as far as mortal names can go, perhaps the worst it ever got to was people starting wars in the name of others, in ancient history, but there would be no second name by which we can ever gain salvation just by calling on – Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved [Acts 4:12|Article] – It’s like those superhero stories. A lady gets cornered by several rogues and out of desperation, screams, ‘superman!’ and suddenly superman appears to save her. Salvation in the name of Christ is a million times more dramatic than that, just that it happens invisibly to our naked eyes in the spiritual realm, so we don’t react much to how amazing it is, perhaps.
When you pray and you come to the end, although you may phrase it differently as I do, I’m sure you’ll say something like, in the name of Christ Jesus, because we as followers of Christ have been empowered to pray in the name of Jesus, that’s what the apostles did in their letters – We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ [2 Thes 1:12]. How great is this name, that millions and gazillions of prayers are made in this name on a daily basis! We believe that, when we make a prayer in the name of the Son, our prayers will be heard, because it is the name of Christ himself, our saviour and redeemer. As humans we do a lot of things in our own name. If we are giving a presentation in front of our bosses or teachers or in front of the public, we usually introduce our names first. If we’ve participated in any creative output, we expect our names to appear in the credits. But we do not pray in our own names – because our names simply do not have that power. We pray in the name of Christ and believe that no other force can obstruct our Lord from hearing the prayer, because there is no greater name, there is no greater God. Such is his greatness. Such is the massiveness behind this name.
God’s name versus the Son’s name?
Perhaps you’ve wondered over the course of this study this question: If there is no name higher than the name of Jesus, then what of the name of God? Yahweh or YHWH, or Jehovah, depending on which rendition you prefer? Jesus himself gives us a rather sufficient answer to this question in his prayer for his disciples – I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled [John 17:11-12]. The name of God is absolute. The name of the Son is higher than all other names. There is simply no contradiction, because the trinity is one. I don’t want to go into the entire massive topic of the oneness of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, since I don’t really explain it well anyway, but there is clearly no contradiction here.
As a child I’ve never quite thought much about the permanent ‘conclusion’ to my prayers – in the name of Christ Jesus, Amen. I’m sure someone has explained to me when I was a child what praying in the name of Jesus means, and why Christians pray in the name of Jesus, but, well, I was a child, and I don’t remember paying too much attention to such details. Even in my teens I didn’t quite care whose name I prayed on – it was out of routine habit that i prayed in the name of Christ. I’m just 22, but as a lifelong Christian I’m sure I’ve made millions of prayers alone in the name of Christ. I’ve certainly depended on the name of Christ in my prayers more times than I’ve ever sang this name, extolled this name, praised this name, worshipped this name, and taught about this name. At the end of the day, great it may be, it’s just a name. This name will have no value and no spiritual power behind it, if it was not the name of the Son. But because it is the name of the Son, it yields immense power. Because it is the name of the Son, we can find great hope and comfort in it. Because it is the name of the Son, you can cheer someone up with it.
Isn’t it sad how, when someone says the name of our Lord these days, you have to decipher from the tone to be able to tell if he or she is simply swearing or not? How insulting! How revolting! Using the greatest name, the name above names, the name of our saviour to curse and swear? We are, ultimately, a sad and sinful world. Perhaps the number of times the name of our Lord has been used as curses is comparable to the number of times saints have prayed on it. Let us be wary not to misuse the name of God. It has power. It’s too high a name, too great a name, too powerful a name for us to use it carelessly as swears. Instead, lets praise and worship his name in humility, and lets continue to pray with reverence in it.
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