32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered near the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him.
35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 36 Simon and those with him tracked him down. 37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.”
One of my favorite books is Max Lucado’s God Came Near. Not counting the Bible, it was THE book that helped me become a Christian. And though it’s not a Christmas book, it’s great Christmas reading.
Max made God real, and he devoted a chapter to Jesus’ name. It was called, “Just call me Jesus.”
So, let’s consider his name, Jesus. My Thompson Chain Bible lists more than 100 names and titles for Christ. But I found several names missing when I began a study on his name. I like other names such as “The Alpha and the Omega,” “The Beginning and the End.” And “Advocate.” But they left out one name that I consider crucial when thinking about his names, Jesus, “Friend of Sinners.”
God simply chose Jesus, which is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.” I never realized how common that name was in those days. It’s certainly the most common name used for Jesus in the Bible, more than 1,200 times.
Max also pointed out that five High Priests were named Jesus, and that the historian Josephus refers to about 20 people named Jesus in his writings.
“What’s the point?” asked Max. “Jesus could have been a ‘Joe.’ If Jesus came today, his name might have been John or Bob or Jim. Were he here today, it is doubtful he would distance himself with a lofty name like Reverend Holiness Angelic Divinity III. No, when God chose the name his son would carry, he chose a human name. He chose a name so typical that it would appear two or three times on any given class roll.”
When John wrote his gospel, he wrote in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh,” which brings us to what I consider the real point of all this.
“He was touchable, approachable, reachable,” added Max. “And, what’s more, he was ordinary. If he were here today, you probably wouldn’t notice him as he walked through a shopping mall. He wouldn’t turn heads by the clothes he wore or the jewelry he flashed.
“’Just call me Jesus,’ you can almost hear him say.”
God gave us a Savior with flesh and blood.
God gave us a Savior who felt what we feel.
That’s what we read in Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
God gave us the Savior we want.
God gave us the Savior we need.
by Rick Reed
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus was called many names in the Bible, but he was mostly called Jesus. It was a common name in Jesus’ time. It was a name like Joe, or Jim, or Bob. It was a common name for the most uncommon man. While we know Jesus is the Son of God, we can call on him in our prayers. He came for us.
Prayer: Jesus, become ever more real to us as we approach you in prayer. Amen.