The name Jesus means salvation. God named His Son Jesus. He told Mary and Joseph separately to use this name for the child born from Mary. The first mention of the name Jesus was from Gabriel when he came to offer Mary her role in God’s plan to send Jesus to take on human flesh.
The name Jesus is a precious name. It is the name above all names (Phil. 2:9). It is a name not to be taken in vain (Ex. 20:7). It is a name in which you ask the Father (Jn. 16:23). It is the name by which all men will be saved (Romans 10:13, Acts 4:12). His name brings His presence (Matthew 18:20). It is a name that will be misused to gain power over others (Matthew 24:5).
On January first the church celebrates the naming of Jesus. It is called the Feast of the Holy Name. In Hebrew, the name was similar to the name Joshua. On the eighth day when Hebrew custom required that a male child be circumcised, both parents declared His name. No one seemed alarmed that a Hebrew couple would name their Son Jesus. No one could have imagined that this baby boy would literally bring the salvation, not just of the Jews, but of the whole world. Even if Mary’s and Joseph’s supernatural encounters with heaven assured them that their Son would be King, neither could have fathomed that their Son would first die in the most despicable from of punishment known to the world—A Roman Cross—as the instrument to save the world.
The first four of the 10 Commandments revolve around the holiness of His being and His name. “I am the Lord thy God have no other God’s before me, make no graven images of my likeness, do not take my name in vain and remember the sabbath day in honor of Me.” It’s not surprising that Jesus would also ask that we continue this practice of keeping God’s name Holy when He taught us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” A name is very significant to God. He has a special name, known only to Him, for each one of us Christians (Rev 2:17).
The Feast of the Holy Name reminds me to consider the significance of the God-picked name of Jesus. I wonder about the reality that although Jesus teaches us to honor the set apart and most holy name of God, God tells us that the name Jesus is above all other names. Maybe I will never fully comprehend the significance of the name of Jesus, I still want to enter into the mystery of His Holy name.
The Jesus Prayer is a breath prayer in which the name of Jesus is clung to for mercy not only for oneself but for the whole world. Here is a description of this prayer given to me from someone in the orthodox church:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
The remembrance of the name of Jesus rouses the enemy to battle. For a soul that forces itself to pray the Prayer of Jesus can find anything by this prayer, both good and evil. First it can see evil in the recesses of its own heart, and afterwards good. This prayer can stir the snake to action, and this prayer can lay it low. This prayer can expose the sin that is living in us, and this prayer can eradicate it. This prayer can stir up in the heart all the power of the enemy, and this prayer can conquer it and gradually root it out. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it descends into the depths of the heart, will subdue the snake which controls its ranges, and will save and quicken the soul. Continue constantly in the name of the Lord Jesus that the heart may swallow the Lord and the Lord the heart, and that these two may be one. However, this is not accomplished in a single day, nor in two days, but requires many years and much time. Much time and labor are needed in order to expel the enemy and instate Christ.
St. John on the Jesus Prayer
When I bless His holy name, my soul is transformed for the better.