In Luke 1, Gabriel told Mary to call her son Jesus, which means “God saves”. Throughout the Bible, we are also told of Jesus’ many other names, along with their meanings. Here are a few.
1. The Word
John 1 gives us this profound name of Jesus. John explains that from the beginning of creation the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word made flesh, the promised Son given to us to take away our sin and reconciling us with God. He became flesh so that we might know God’s love and to be a model of holiness for us. Finally, to make us partakers of the divine nature. (ccc 457-460).
Image: Helix Nebula, often called “The Eye of God”
2. Jesus of Nazareth
This is Jesus’ earthly name which refers to the city his father, Joseph, came from and where Jesus was raised. After Jesus began his public ministry, he went to Nazareth to teach, but no one there would listen to him. The people there could not believe this was the Jesus they knew as the carpenter’s son (Mark 6:1-6). Actually the people were so offended by Jesus they tried to throw him over the cliff! (John 1:16-30).
3. Lamb of God
The lamb as the perfect sacrifice to God goes back to when Abraham is called by the Angel of the Lord to have him sacrifice Isaac. He tells his son, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22). It was John the Baptist who called Jesus by this name in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Jesus was called the Messiah in the Gospels of Matthew and John, which means Christ. Andrew goes to his brother, Simon Peter, and tells him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Jesus refers to himself is the Messiah when he is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:26).
5. The Way, the Truth, the Life
In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” We know they way to God by following Jesus, we understand the truth of God by his word and we receive eternal life by believing he is the Son of God.
6. Good Shepherd
Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd, whose sheep he knows and they know him. He also is the Good Shepherd who will go to any lengths to bring home a lost sheep. The good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep. He will bring together all of the flocks so there is only one heard, and one shepherd.
7. Light of the World
God is pure light and Jesus is the light of the world, sent by the Father to bring light to our world covered in darkness and sin. If we follow him, we will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). We too can also be the light of the world when we let Jesus’ light shine through us through our good works and by giving glory to our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
8. King of kings
During salvation history, the Israelite’s begged God for a king to lead them, but God warned them they would not like any king that would rule over them. They ended up getting what they asked for, and while some kings stayed close to the Lord, many ruled with an iron fist and oppressed the Israelite’s. Jesus tells us in John 18:36, his kingship is not of this world, and in 1 Timothy 6, explains that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
9. Prince of Peace
It was the prophecy of Isaiah who used the name, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” in reference to a righteous king who will be born (Isaiah 9:1-7). Even though Jesus is the Prince of Peace, he tells us that his word will actually divide a son against his father and daughter against his mother (Matthew 10:34-38, Luke 12:49-53), and that is because there is a division between those who believe and those who don’t. Jesus gives us peace, but not as the world gives (John 14:27). He has overcome evil and we can share in the peace that God has defeated of sin.
10. Son of God
When Gabriel spoke with Mary, he told her that her child would be the Son of God (Luke 1:35). During the temptation in the desert, the devil uses this holy name to tempt Jesus in commanding a stone be turned to bread. When asked by Jesus who do the disciples say he is, Simon Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” in which Jesus replied that it was the Father in heaven who revealed this to him (Matthew 16:13-20). When the demons would flee from Jesus, they would cry out, “You are the Son of God” (Luke 4:41 & 8:28, Mark 3:11 & 5:7), yet the people mocked Jesus upon the cross saying if he was the Son of God he should save himself, but that was not God’s plan.
Jesus is the Son of the Living God, who is our King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is the Prince of peace, not to bring peace to the world, but to divide those who believe from those who do not. He is the Light of the World who came to save the world through his Way, his Truth and his Life. He is our Good Shepherd who gathers his sheep, our Messiah, and teacher, the Christ born of Mary, son of Joseph of Nazareth. The perfect, unblemished sacrifice, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Word, who was with God and was God, from the beginning of time, made flesh so that we could share in his divine nature and holiness. Hallelujah!