Celebrating Twelve Names of Christ
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11)
“The name of Jesus”—let us look at twelve names of Christ as we celebrate His birth, death, and resurrection through those very names. All twelve names are truthful and perfect, as they give us a picture of the redemption of mankind through our Savior, Jesus Christ. This name is no ordinary name; rather, it is a name fit for a King, and rightly so. Join us as we take a look at Who this baby was, Who He is, and why we worship Him in this holiday season and every season of our lives. Let us now turn our focus to Jesus and all that His names represent.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful … (Isaiah 9:6)
Jesus’ birth was full of wonder: Mary wondered at what the angel said, the people wondered at what the shepherds said, and the king wondered at what the wise men said. It was something to wonder at—God was made manifest in the flesh!
He was wonderful in His birth. He was wonderful in His life. He did many wonders. People were filled with wonder at His sayings.
His death was a marvelous thing, full of wonder as the people experienced darkness, felt the earthquake, saw the veil of the temple torn, and witnessed the Lamb of God take on their sin. His death was wonderful as it brought us life.
His Resurrection was full of wonder; it was not only a miraculous sight but also a marvelous victory over death and the grave. Jesus revealed His wonderful love for us as He became our wonderful Savior!
And all these things are wonderful because He is Wonderful. It’s Who He is, and it’s what He does:
Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. (Isaiah 25:1)
… And his name shall be called … Counselor … . (Isaiah 9:6)
The Hebrew word for counselor in this text is yaats, and it has several meanings, mainly “advise well, consult, give counsel, determine, devise, and guide.”1
Our Jesus is not only wonderful, but He is also wonderful in counsel:
This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. (Isaiah 28:29)
We are in need of His counsel:
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)
His counsel is given freely:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5–6)
His counsel gives life:
Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
If we strive to seek His counsel, we will find it:
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:3–6)
In Him is all wisdom and knowledge:
In whom [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
3. The Mighty God
… And his name shall be called … the Mighty God … . (Isaiah 9:6)
Mary knew that her God was a mighty God. As the Son of this mighty God was in her womb, she proclaimed His might and worshiped Him. She realized that He Who was mighty was doing mighty things even within her:
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. (Luke 1:49)
Just like Mary, we, too, may know the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things; He is the One Who gives us His strength in our weakness—just as Isaiah and Jeremiah proclaimed:
To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. … Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:25–31)
Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: … the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name. (Jeremiah 32:17–18)
The mighty God of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Mary is the same mighty Christ Who can live within us:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
4. The Everlasting Father
… And his name shall be called … the Everlasting Father … . (Isaiah 9:6)
C.H. Spurgeon once preached this about Jesus, the Everlasting Father: “Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all his attributes, and in all his offices, and in all his might, and power, and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown his chosen people. Generation makes us the sons of Adam; regeneration acknowledges us as the sons of Christ.”2
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalm 90:2)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … . (John 1:1)
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me … . (John 14:7–11)
5. The Prince of Peace
… And his name shall be called … the Prince of Peace … . (Isaiah 9:6)
There is a peace that comes from knowing God and His Son, the Prince of Peace. This is a peace that the world cannot give, nor can it attain. This peace is completeness, a soundness of soul and spirit. It is a condition of the inner man and is not related to his outer circumstances.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
Jesus came with a name that only He could fulfill: the Prince of Peace. He came to bring peace between God and man and to restore what sin had separated. Truly, this is a peace that is everlasting in its scope and eternal in our hearts.
Even the hosts of heaven knew that to know God’s Son was to know peace. They saw that this earth was about to be blessed with the Prince of Peace as they sang for the shepherds the night their Savior was born: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)
The dove is a universal symbol of peace. The reason for this goes back to Genesis, when a dove was released from the ark and returned with good news of dry land. The reason for this goes all the way up to the book of Luke, when the Holy Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Jesus as He was baptized, where His Father proudly proclaimed His Son as His own.
And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. (Genesis 8:10–11)
And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:23)
6. Emmanuel: God With Us
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
The eternal, all-powerful, creator God coming to dwell with us … so much meaning is packed in this one powerful word: Emmanuel.
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed this future event, which was fulfilled in that baby born in Bethlehem; His name is Jesus. This baby was, and is, the living God made manifest in human flesh as He came and dwelt among us:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The popular Christmas song, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wesley in 1739, talks of Jesus our Emmanuel in the following stanza, which proclaims the incredible truth that God became man and was born of a virgin and lived among us:
Christ by highest heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’ Incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
7. A Savior: Christ the Lord
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10–11)
God has revealed Himself to us through His Son. Jesus is God incarnate and has come to show us what God is like. Let’s break down the above verses and see what we can find here:
The first thing the angel says is, “Fear not! ”The shepherds were very frightened at the appearance of the angel, but the words from the angel, calming their fears, easily apply to us today. Jesus came to take away the anxiety of our hearts through His gift of redemption. Our hopes and fears are met in Him, as this Christmas carol says:
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
(Words by Phillips Brooks, 1867)
The angel then said he was bringing “good tidings of great joy.” What was this tiding of good news? God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. There is now great joy for mankind because the penalty for our sin has been taken care of by Jesus, our Savior, and we are now reconciled to God through Him.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:3–5)
Finally, the verse in Luke chapter 2 says that “unto you is born this day … a savior, which is Christ the Lord.” No wonder the angels then sang, and we can now sing, “Glory to God in the highest!”
… His name was called, Jesus … . (Luke 2:21)
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
(“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley, 1744)
The name of Jesus is the most popular and recognized name in history. His name has been mocked by the world for centuries, yet at the same time, it has been worshiped by His children from the beginning of time. But there will come a day when the knee of every man, woman, and child will bow before that highly exalted Name:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11)
This highly exalted Jesus exchanged His crown of glory for a crown of thorns. He exchanged a royal throne for a bloody cross. He emptied himself that He might ever fill us with Himself. He came to earth to die for us because of His great love for the world.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5–8)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
9. The Lamb of God
John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
John spoke of Jesus as the One who would do away with the Old Testament sacrificial system, by becoming the last and final sacrifice for sin.
Prophecies about the coming Lamb of God are scattered throughout the Old Testament. Perhaps the most well known Old Testament account that portrays the coming Lamb of God is that of Abraham and Isaac, found in Genesis 22. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his “son of promise,” Isaac, upon an altar. Abraham demonstrates his obedience by fully carrying out God’s instructions—almost. Just before Abraham strikes the death blow to his beloved son, God provides a substitute, even as Jesus was the substitute for each of us when He willingly laid down His life and bore our punishment, even unto death:
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together … And (Isaac) said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burn offering in the stead of his son. (Genesis 22:6–13)
God sent Jesus to die in our place so that our relationship with God, which had been forfeited as a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden, could be restored. As a result of the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the name of every man, woman, boy, and girl who receives the gift of salvation will be written in “the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27; see also Revelation 13:8)
10. The Light of the World
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
Jesus came to bring the light of life into the world, which was lost in darkness as a result of sin. There are many verses depicting Jesus as the light of the world; here are a few:
The people which sat in darkness saw great light … . (Matthew 4:16)
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5)
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46)
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)
Jesus has given us His light for a purpose: that we would let it shine from our hearts and lives and give light to others, to draw them to the Light of the World, too:
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (John 1:9, 1 John 1:7)
11. The Good Shepherd
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, not only takes care of His sheep, but He also paid the redemption price to call them His own—those who have received eternal life through His blood. All of us sheep have “gone astray.” However, Jesus rescued us by perfectly fulfilling His Father’s will through His death.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Many Scriptures speak of us as sheep and of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23, possibly the most famous Psalm in the Bible, describes the Lord as our shepherd, as do many other passages, including these:
I [Jesus] am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10: 14)
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. (Hebrews 13:20)
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)
12. The Alpha and Omega
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Revelation 22:13)
Several verses in the book of Revelation declare this title for the Lord, including Revelation 21:6: “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
Alpha (A) is the English translation of the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Omega (Ω) designates the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Jesus Christ holds the title “Alpha and Omega” because He is the beginning and the end, meaning He is eternal: He always has been, and He always will be.
Jesus Christ fulfilled all the Law and all of the prophecies about the coming Messiah. Through Christ, God’s plan has been successfully completed: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15b)
Jesus also declared himself to John on the isle of Patmos with this title:
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last … . (Revelation 1:11)
When John saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His beauty and majesty and holiness, he “fell at his feet as dead.” (Revelation 1:17) Then the Lord laid His right hand upon John and said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:17–18)
Copyright 2010. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, Fall 2010. Used with permission. Visit them at https://theoldschoolhouse.com.
Re-featured on homepage: 19 December 2023