One of the earliest feasts we celebrate in this New Year of 2024 is that of the Name of Jesus, this most powerful Name.
In itself, the Name of Jesus means God saves. We find this pivotal meaning present in the Angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary when he tells her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:30-33). The underlying significance of this great announcement is that of salvation.
It is clear that God, in his unfathomable judgment, has decreed that He chose this name for a specific reason. In its entry regarding this Name, the Catholic Encyclopedia says: The word Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua, or Joshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning ‘[God] is salvation. Concomitant with it we find what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us about this Name when it states in number 430: Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission. Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”. In Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.
I am extremely touched by what the Bible itself tells us about this most powerful Name on earth. The New Testament is replete with references that show us the transforming power which this Name possesses on those who believe in it and let it change their lives.
Hence, in the Name of Jesus there is forgiveness of sins. In the Book of Acts we find: And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Miracles are performed in Jesus’ Name. In Acts 3 the same Peter says to the man lame from birth (Acts 3:2): I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk (Acts 3:6). The same idea is found in Acts 4 when Peter says to the rulers of the people and leaders of Israel: Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well (Acts 4:10).
Since this Name is so powerful its enemies see it as a threat and reason to oppress those who speak and act in its name. Therefore, Acts 4 informs us: So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). Again, the next chapter drives home the same point when it declares: So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go (Acts 5:40).
People are baptized in the Name of Jesus. The Book of Acts tells us in its eight chapter: But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12). Another quote which suggests this point is to be found in the Book of Acts chapter 10 when it says: And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days (Acts 10: 48).
The Name of Jesus is the source of powerful and persuasive preaching. Acts 9 tells us: But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27).
In Jesus’ Name every evil spirit is driven out from people. Acts 16 shows us this wonderful reality when it says: And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour (Acts 16:18). However, Jesus’ Name becomes a point of opposition to the enemies of Jesus. Paul himself, in his defence in front of Agrippa, spoke of himself when he found himself combatting the Christians and, by consequence, Jesus himself: I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9).
The greatest thought the Bible can ever give about this most powerful Name of Jesus is that provided to us by the Letter to the Philippians when it says: At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil 2:10). Upon reading this life transforming phrase I could easily understand why Jesus is the one who leads the people of God into the true Promised Land of Heaven and also why his very Name means healing and healing in abundance.
How extremely right is the Catechism of the Catholic Church when, in paragraph 432, it says of the Name of Jesus: The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (CCC 432).
Lord Jesus, in your most holy Name, we have the victory and Satan has to flee. Lord,
what can ever stand before us when we call your great name? In your Name of Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, we have the victory. You have no rival, You have no equal. Now and forever, God, You reign. Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the Glory, Yours is the Name above all names. Jesus we trust in your most powerful Name now and forever more. Amen.