Some time ago in his classic Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare pondered the question, "What's in a name?" While a rose may smell sweetly, no matter what name you give it, for us a name is more than just a method for identification or simply a label. New parents often struggle for weeks or months trying to find the right name for their child, one that "fits."
It wasn't that long ago that our Anglo-Saxon names denoted special meanings. Lineage was portrayed through names like Johnson or Jackson or Peterson. A person's occupation was denoted through names like Carpenter, Miller, or Smith. Thus through a name alone, you immediately knew something about the person before meeting them.
In Biblical times, a name was assigned even more significant meaning. A name could provide clues to a person's character or history. Often, when a significant event occurred in someone's life, a new name would be given marking the change that occurred. When God entered into a covenant with Abram, God changed his name to Abraham, which means Father of a multitude. Abraham and Sara laughed at God's declaration that they would have a baby in their old age. When their son was born, they named him Isaac, which means laughter. In the New Testament, when Jesus called Simon to be His disciple, He changed his name to Peter, which means a rock.
God in the Old Testament often revealed to mankind more about His character by giving Himself different names. To Abraham, God said He was Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. To Moses and the children of Israel, God became known to them as Jehovah Rophi, the God who heals.
But of all of the names throughout history, none are so significant as the names of Jesus. God has truly given Him a name above every name (Philippians 2:9). Sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments, we can find over 100 names and titles given to Jesus, each one denoting a unique aspect of His person or His purpose. Why are there so many? Just like a name is descriptive and revealing, it is also restrictive and self-limiting. It would not be possible to describe or to define who Jesus is through a single name.
In this devotional study, I will not try to look at all of Christ's many names, only a few. But it is my desire to paint a portrait of Jesus through a mosaic of His names, and that through this portrait you will come to discover more about Him. May more of Jesus be revealed to you, and may you draw closer to Him. That is my prayer.
Note: Check back as more of Jesus' names will be examined and added to this study in the future.