Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The naming of Christ

Jesus’s naming has great significance. In Jewish thought, the name given to a child was prophetic. In other words, parents chose their child’s name in order to point the child’s soul in a chosen direction. We see something similar in some African cultures today.

Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything.
People kill one another over idols.
Wonder makes us fall to our knees.

St Gregory of Nyssa
Image result for the naming of ChristThat’s why the Jews took such care when choosing a baby’s name. Indeed, they believed that giving an inappropriate name could cause a child to deviate from God’s path. And that’s why John the Baptist’s family seemed to panic when his mother Elizabeth choose the name of John. (From within this context the curious story in Luke 1:59–64 makes sense: John’s father Zechariah only regains his ability to speak when he finally listens to God. His words coincide with God’s words: he becomes a prophet in order that his son might also become a prophet.)
    ‘Jesus’ is the Greek translation of a Hebrew name ‘Joshua’, which literally means ‘The Lord saves’. The original Joshua gave his name to the sixth book of the Old Testament. This book describes the chosen people following Joshua into the Promised Land to accommodate an explicit promise from God.
    That Jesus had the same name as the first Joshua is significant: by following the new Joshua (Jesus), a new tribe of chosen people — us — can enter safety in a new land. The Lord lets us enter this new and spiritual life, which is how we are saved.
    Within this prophetic mindset, our salvation is wrapped up in the name of Jesus. That’s why as Christians we conclude our prayer with the words, “… in Jesus’ name”.

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