The Name Of Jesus
Of the more than 700 names and titles of the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture, none is perhaps more venerated by Christians than the name “Jesus” itself. A contemporary songwriter acknowledges simply, “There's just something about that name.” The very sound of that name is precious in the ears of Christians worldwide. That name has brought about a sense of overwhelming comfort to many in their darkest hours. It is that name most often verbalized in prayer and preaching, in testimony and witnessing. Many relate dramatic, even miraculous experiences of life to the significance of that name. The name “Jesus” was, at the time of our Lord's earthly sojourn, among the most popular of names selected by parents of Hebrew boys. In the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, the name identifies at least twenty different men, ten of whom were contemporaries of Jesus Christ.
Its popularity was probably to a large extent due to its relationship with one of Israel's great leaders, Joshua, the son of Nun and successor to Moses. In the Egyptian papyri, the name occurs frequently right through the early part of the second century. Then abruptly, both Jews and Christians stopped using “Jesus” as a name for their boys. The Jews did so because it was so closely related to Christianity, which they rigorously opposed and hated. The Christians refused to use the name for opposite reasons. To them, the name was special and held in veneration. It was almost thought sacrilegious that anyone but Jesus should bear that name. When one reads the New Testament, he must be impressed with how often this name appears. It is by far the most often used name in the Gospels; and, even in the book of Acts, where we see the title “Lord” so often, the use of “Jesus” outnumbers “Lord” three to one. In the Epistles, the name of Jesus continues to occur, though not so often. It formed an intrinsic part of the great Pauline formula by which the apostle often referred to the “Lord” (His Title), “Jesus” (His Name), and “Christ” (His Office). What is perhaps most surprising about the name “Jesus” is not its use but the absence of its use.
With the possible exception of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42), there is no record of anyone ever addressing Jesus directly by the name “Jesus” during His earthly life and ministry. Further, Jesus Himself apparently used this name to identify Himself only twice, both occasions to persons after His ascension to and glorification in Heaven (cf. Acts 9:5; Revelation 22:16).