That Worthy Name

“That Worthy Name!” 
(James 2:7)

“Yours in the name of Jesus.” How many who owe their all, both for time and eternity, to the peerless One, refer thus to Him who was “God manifest in the flesh” (1st Timothy 3:16). It is “Jesus” this, and “Jesus” that. Is it becoming for worms of the dust, for sinners, even for sinners saved by grace, to thus speak of Him? Jesus is the LORD of Glory, and surely it is due the dignity and majesty of His person that this be recognized and owned, even in our reference to Him in common speech. Those who despise and reject the Saviour, speak of Him as “The Carpenter,” “The Nazarene,” as “Jesus.” But should those who have been given an “understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1st John 5:20), ignore His Lordship? In a word, can we who have been redeemed by His precious blood do less than confess Him as the Lord Jesus Christ? In John 13:13 we find Him saying, “You call Me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am.” Surely this is enough for the believer. If our blessed Redeemer declares we “say well” when we call Him “Master and Lord,” can we afford to speak of Him in terms on which His approval is not stamped? Never once do we find any of the apostles addressing Him as “Jesus” while He was with them on the earth. When He exhorted them to make request for an increase of labourers, He bade them “Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) 

When He sent forth the disciples to secure the donkey on which He was to ride into Jerusalem, He ordered them to say: “The Lord has need of him” (Luke 19:31). And again when He required the use of the upper room, it was, “The Master says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” (Matthew 26:18)

It may be objected to what we have contended for above that the Gospel narratives commonly refer to our Lord simply as “Jesus.” It was “Jesus” who was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It was “Jesus” who was moved with compassion as He beheld the sufferings and sorrows of humanity. It was “Jesus” who cleansed the leper, healed the sick, and raised the dead. This is true, and the explanation is not far to seek. It was the Holy Spirit of God who, through the pens of the evangelists, thus refers to Him, and this makes all the difference. Let us illustrate. What would be thought of one of the subjects of King George the fifth, referring to the reigning monarch of Great Britain and saying, “I saw George pass through the city this morning”? If then it would be entirely incongruous (inappropriate) for one of his subjects to speak thus of the King of England, how much more is it to refer to the King of kings simply as “Jesus”? But now, King George’s wife could refer to and speak of her husband as “George” with perfect propriety. Thus it is that the Holy Spirit in the Gospel narrative refers to our Lord by His personal name. Once more “Jesus” was the name of our Lord in humiliation. Said the angel to Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and in order to save His people from their sins He had to die the death of the cross. But it is to be noted that when Peter addressed the Jews on the day of Pentecost, he said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36). Hence it is that the Saviour is referred to as Christ, Christ Jesus, Jesus Christ, or Lord Jesus Christ, and never simply as “Jesus” except when reference is made (either direct, by way of implication, or in contrast) to His humiliation and suffering. Our modern hymns are largely responsible for the dishonour that is now so generally cast upon “That Worthy Name.” And we cannot but raise our voice in loud protest against much of the trash (for that is the correct term) that today masquerades under the name of hymns and religious songs. It is sad and shocking to find professing Christians singing, “A little talk with Jesus makes it right.” Fancy saying, “A little talk with God makes it right!” and yet Jesus was and is “God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5). Such unseemly familiarity as “a little talk” with “The mighty God” is horrible. “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus” is utterly erroneous, and near akin to blasphemy. There is no “lowly” Jesus today, except the one created by the imagination and sentimentality of the moderns. Instead of being “lowly,” the Lord Jesus Christ is seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3), from whence He will shortly descend “in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not His Gospel” (2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8). Above we have said that the apostles never once addressed our Lord simply as “Jesus.” Mark, now, how they did refer to the Blessed One.

“And Peter answered Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21)

“And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22)

“And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will You that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them?” (Luke 9:54)

“And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, the Lord is risen indeed.” (Luke 24:33-34)

“Thomas said unto Him, Lord, we know not where You go.” (John 14:5)

“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said unto Peter, “It is the Lord.” (John 21:7)

In marked contrast with the manner in which the apostles referred to and spoke of their Lord, note how others, particularly His enemies, referred to Him: 

“And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:11)

“And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passes by.” (Luke 18:36-37)

“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with You, You Jesus of Nazareth.” (Mark 1:23-24)

“And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” (Matthew 26:71) 

Christian reader: Will you refer to and speak of the Son of God as did His enemies and the demons, namely, as “Jesus,” or will you call Him “Master and Lord” as did the apostles, concerning whom He said: “You say well?” Let us ask God to deliver us from this flippant, careless, irreverent manner of confessing His Son. Let us own our Saviour as “Lord” during the time of His rejection by the world. Let us remember His words, “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” (John 5:22-23)

Let us remember it is written, “For by our words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” (Matthew 2:37)

Arthur Pink (1886-1952)

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