The Wonderful Names of Jesus
July 1st, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
THE WONDERFUL NAMES OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-1-62 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message from the eighteenth to the twenty-fifth verses of the first chapter of Matthew. And all of us here in the great congregation and on radio listening, turn to the first chapter of the First Gospel and read it with us out loud. Share your Bible with your neighbor and all of us reading it together. The title of the sermon tonight is The Names of Jesus; two of them here in this remarkable passage. Now together chapter 1, the Gospel of Matthew beginning at the eighteenth verse:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
And while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn Son: and he called His name JESUS.
Somebody has said there are three hundred sixty-five different names in the Bible given to our Savior and Lord. In one verse in the Old Testament, I remember, “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6]; calling Him Lord [Isaiah 9:7]. Calling Him our Shepherd [1 Peter 5:4], calling Him our Savior [2 Peter 3:18], calling Him our Messiah [John 4:25-26], the Christ of God [Luke 9:20], calling Him our Mediator [1 Timothy 2:3], our great High Priest [Hebrews 4:14], our Intercessor [Romans 8:24; Hebrews 7:25]. How many and how multitudinous are the names that describe and depict the glory and the ministry of Christ? But out of all of the names by which He is named, the most beautiful is the name Immanuel. “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet Isaiah, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is God is with us” [Matthew 1:22-23]. There is music in every syllable of it, “Immanuel,” and it is found in sacred song and in sacred literature through all of the centuries since that Isaiah made that glorious and incomparable prophecy [Hebrews 1:1]. The most beautiful of all the names of our Lord is the name “God is with us,” Immanuel [Matthew 1:23].
That name is as meaningful and as significant as it is gloriously, incomparably beautiful. In days passed, God has revealed Himself in divers ways and in divers manners [Hebrews 1:1]. At the gate of the garden of Eden on the east side, the Lord exhibited His glory and His grace in the cherubim with the flashing, flaming sword, and the altar of God to which our fallen parents were invited to come back and there call upon His incomparable name [Genesis 3:24]. On the back side of a desert, the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush and spake to the great lawgiver out of the fire and out of the flame [Exodus 3:1-3]. At Mt. Sinai the Lord came down in thunder, and in lightning, and in the sound of a trumpet, and the whole earth quaked with His presence [Exodus 19:16-18]. The Lord appeared in glory to Israel in a column of a fire by night and in a pillar of hovering, sheltering cloud by day [Exodus 13:21-22]. In the dedication of the glorious temple of Solomon, the Lord came down in a shekinah, in a shekinah flame, in a light, in a presence, in a celestial heavenly glory like heaven itself [1 Kings 8:10-11].
In how many different ways has God exhibited, and portrayed, and offered Himself? But nothing comparable to the glorious abridgment of heaven and earth when Christ came to live among men [John 1:14; Hebrews 10:4-14]; forever the gulf between heaven and earth is bridged, and forever God and man made one. The significance and the meaning of that name Immanuel, God is with us [Matthew 1:23]. Here is a babe nursing at a mother’s breast. Here is a boy growing up. Here is a man walking in strength. Here is God’s Servant dying on a cross [Matthew 27:30-50]. Every act of His life and every breath that He breathed is the act and the life of Almighty God. “For in Him the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily” [Colossians 2:9]. Oh, the amazement of it, and the wonder of it, and the astonishment of it! This is God in the flesh. “And the Word was made flesh . . . and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth” [John 1:14].
It staggers the imagination! It beggars description, this superlative God Man Christ Jesus, greater than the greatest, fairer than the fairest, purer than the purest, higher than the highest, nobler than the noblest, sweeter than the sweetest, finer than the finest; the great incomparable superlative Man Christ Jesus. His song is the Song of Songs. His dwelling place in earth is the Holy of Holies. His home is above the heaven of the heavens, and His name is above every name that is named [Philippians 2:9]. God is with us, Immanuel [Matthew 1:23]. And even from the harshest critics of unbelief and infidelity there have come praises. Lord Byron, cynical, sensuous, one time said, “If ever God was man and man was God, that God-Man is Christ Jesus.” And the French critic and cynic Renan said, “He is the superlative man to whom the conscience of the whole world rightly has given the title the Son of God.”
“And His name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God is with us” [Matthew 1:23]. And the blessing of that name, “God is with us,” He shared our toil and our labor. There is no man that works; there is no one who toils that does not find a brother in Jesus, the Son of God. He lived thirty-three years, and for thirty of those years, He toiled at a working man’s bench. When a man sweats, when a man labors, when a man works, he has a brother in God.
He shared our privations; all of our limitations were known to Him. He was poor, “He had not where to lay His head” [Matthew 8:20]. He was hungry [Matthew 21:18; Luke 4:2]. He received with appreciation the few things the women of Galilee ministered unto Him in His needs [Luke 8:1-3]. He was thirsty. He sat on the well and asked drink of a woman who was a despised Samaritan. He knew what it was to be weary and to be exhausted from the toil of the road [John 4:6-7]. And He entered into the life of all of the sorrows, and trials, and temptations of God’s people in the earth; “Tried, tempted in all points like as we are, though without sin” [Hebrews 4:15]
When death visited a home, it brought tears from His eyes [John 11:32-35]. And when He saw the blind and the halt, and the maimed, and the crippled, He was moved with compassion upon the people [Mark 9:35-36]. We have in our sorrows, in our trials, in our agonies, in our disappointments, and in our tears, and in our broken hearts, we have a blood brother in Jesus.
I read this week of the story of an Oriental monarch, who when he died, said, “My son will succeed to the throne. And the blessings of the reign of the kingdom will extend unto you through him.” They’d never seen the boy. They’d never looked upon his face. But after the death of the monarch and as his son began to reign, there were blessings that covered the kingdom as the light rays of the sun brought warmth to the land. Their trials, their tribulations, their problems, their heartaches, all seen in the heart of that king. And his laws were just and his ministries were compassionate. He seemed to understand the people. Yet they’d never seen him or looked upon his face.
Upon a day the throng came to the palace and said, “Let us see the face of our king. Let us look upon him.” And the king appeared in his gorgeous and his royal robes. As he stood before the vast concourse of his people, they looked in amazement. And one cried, “Why, why, I know him. When our child died he wept by the side of the grave.” And another said, “He, I know him. When we were hungry he brought bread to our home.” And another said, “Why, he, I know him. In the dark hour of our trial he came to succor and to help, to encourage.” He had walked unknown in their midst, their reigning monarch and king.
Thus it is with us. Is there a sorrow? Look in His blessed face. You’ll find tears of compassion. Are we troubled? Look up into His face. There will be compassionate understanding. Are we fallen? Look, He knew what it was to fall beneath the heavy weight of a cross. Is there need? Is there trouble? There is help, and life, and encouragement, and love, and compassion in Him. “And His name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” [Matthew 1:23]. And how infinitely blessed and how preciously stated is the welcome of God to come, and to trust, and to believe, and to bow, and to kneel in His holy presence. Anybody, anywhere, any time somehow can feel welcome as he approaches our Lord; the most approachable of all of the men who ever walked and served in this earth; nothing proud or contumacious or haughty or reserved or removed, not in the Son of God.
When He was born, they wrapped Him in swaddling clothes [Luke 2:7]; so poor they had no little garment for Him, no little dress for the Baby but they wrapped Him in rags, in swaddling clothes, in rags, and laid Him in a bed of straw in a manger [Luke 2:7]. Anybody, anybody could approach a child born like that. Maybe in a king’s palace, maybe exalted an heir to the throne, maybe as the crown prince we might have been hesitant. There is no need to hesitate in a stable; to approach a manger, to look in the face of a little child born in poverty to a peasant woman [Luke 2:8-16]. And when He lived and when He walked, He was known as “the carpenter’s son” [Matthew 13:55].
And in His ministry, somehow there was about Him what made mothers lay their children in His arms that He might bless them; put His hands upon them and pray over them [Mark 10:13-16]. There was something about Him that made that woman so stricken with an issue of blood say in her heart, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be saved” [Matthew 9:20-23]. There was something about Him that made the publicans and the sinners love to hear His words [Luke 15:1]. There was something about Him that even as He bowed His head in death, a malefactor crucified by His side felt constrained of God to believe He would have a heavenly and an ultimate kingdom [Luke 23:42]. Anybody can approach the cross. Anybody can kneel at the feet of Jesus. Anybody can feel welcome in the presence of the great God: His name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God, God with us [Matthew 1:23].
For ye are not come unto Mount Sinai that burned with fire, and the people were afraid, and Moses said, Even I exceedingly fear and quake; but ye are come unto Mount Zion, and to the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to God, the lover of our souls, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to the blood of the covenant that speaketh better things than that of angels.
[from Hebrews 12:18-24]
Come, come, bow, and welcome, “His name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted is,” God is here, “God is with us” [Matthew 1:23]:
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. And she brought forth her firstborn Son: and he called His name Jesus . . . She shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Jesus, Savior: for He shall save His people from their sins.
[Matthew 1:21, 23-24; Luke 2:7]
Jesus, Savior. The mission that brought Him into the world was fulfilled in the naming of the Child: Iēsous, Joshua, Savior [Matthew 1:21]. Men have gone on countless numbers of missions into this world for fame, for conquest, for glory, for wealth, but Jesus came on a great mission into this earth for one thing only; to save us from our sins. “And thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21].
He came into this world to change a cursing fisherman into an apostle, Simon Peter. He came into this world to change a blaspheming Pharisee into the mighty apostle Paul. He came into this world to change a cringing monk into Martin Luther, the preacher of God. He came into this world to take a mill hand and make of him a David Livingstone. He came into this world to take a poor cobbler and make of him a William Carey. He came into this world to take a ball player and make out of him a Billy Sunday. He came into this world to take a shoe clerk and to make out of him a Dwight L. Moody. He came into this world to create a new order and a new humanity. And I have seen it all the days of my life, having grown up in the circle of the church and for the most of my life having been a minister of the gospel of the Son of God. I have seen it all of my life.
On a plane coming back from a Southern Baptist Convention, I had listened that year to a marvelous convention sermon. As you know once a year, the year preceding they choose a minister to preach the convention sermon for the following year. That year I had listened to a man—one of the illustrious pastorates in one of the great cities of America—I had listened to that man bring a remarkable sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention. I was in the plane returning to the home here in Dallas. On the plane I happened to be seated by a man who wanted to visit with me. And I enjoyed it, so we began to talk together. He was a businessman belonging to another communion, another denomination. And when he found out that I was a Baptist preacher, he began to ruminate, and he said, he said, “You know, you know, you are a Baptist preacher.” He said, “You know, that reminds me. I grew up in a little town,” and he named the town in the eastern part of the United States. And he said, “In that town was a girl. And the girl fell into shame and disgrace, and she became the unwed mother of an illegitimate child.” He said, “She gave birth to a little boy that we call Willie, and she took the little fellow and rented a little house on the edge of the town and took in washing.”
And he said, “She brought up that little boy. Oh!” he said, “I’ll never forget what a time that little illegitimate boy had in school.” And he said, “You can understand how things are in a small town and how that little fellow grew up.”
I said, “Yes, I can understand. I grew up in a little town.”
And he said, “You know by the way,” he said, “that’s why you reminded me of it. I have been told that that boy turned out to be a Baptist preacher.”
Well I said, “That’s, that’s great, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he said, “it is. Yes,” he said, “it is.”
He never had called the boy’s name.
So I said to him, “You say he has turned out to be a Baptist preacher. What is his last name? What is his last name?” And he named that preacher I had just heard.
What a remarkable thing! That’s God! That’s the power of the Almighty! That’s the moving, saving, quickening, changing, renewing Spirit of Jesus! That’s why He came into this world; to create a new order, to create a new humanity, to create a new social dedication, to create a new house, and a new home, and a new government, and a new people. And I live in that kind of a world.
There is a home in the city of Dallas. It was vile, and it was wicked, and it was blasphemous, and it was full of curses. And the children lived in terror and in fear. And the wife was as vile and as wicked as her husband. And upon a day, in the providence of God, the Lord moved in the home; he was baptized, she was baptized; the children brought to be taught in the name of the Lord in this blessed church. And upon a day, I visited in the home. And when time came for me to leave, the mother said, “Would you take our Bible and read out of the Book, and then would you kneel by our sides in prayer?” This is the heavenly ministry of Christ our Lord. “And thou shalt call His name Jesus, Savior; for He shall make us anew”; a new life, a new hope, a new commitment, a new vision, a new dedication, a new love, a new song. This is our living Lord.
He did not come to condemn the world;
He did not come to blame.
He did not only come to seek,
It was to save that He came.
When we call Him Jesus, Jesus, Savior,
We call Him by His name.
There is majesty in the name of God. There is personality in the name of Jehovah. There is power in the name of Lord. There is unction in the name of Christ. There is mediation in the name of Intercessor. There is help in the name of Advocate. “But there is none other name given among men, whereby we must be saved, but in the name of Jesus” [Acts 4:12].
An Alexander can build an empire. A Napoleon can change the maps of the earth. A Darwin can bring an intellectual revolution. A Copernicus or a Newton can bring in a new era of science. A Wyatt or an Edison can usher in a new era of industry. But there’s nobody can re-create the human heart but Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21]. And this is the great meaning, and ministry, and message, and significance of our Lord.
I could not help but be moved by reading of a boy, a youth, a teenager who came into the study of his father, a theological seminary professor. And he sat down by the desk of his learned intellectual father, and he said to him, he said, “Father today,” it was Sunday and he’d been down to the mission, the boy said, “Father, today for the first time in my life I saw the meaning of Christianity!” And the Father said, “Well son, son, how was it?”
And the boy said, “Dad, today I went down to the mission, and I saw hardened men melt before God. And I saw street women brought to God. And I saw families changed unto God. And I saw people saved unto the Lord.” He said, “Dad, today I saw the real thing, and I have never seen it before.”
You know what went through my mind when I read that? That boy was a child of the church. All of his life, from a lad until these days of his teenage, all of his life he had seen the decorum, and he had seen the ritual, and he had seen the ceremony, and he had heard the songs, and had watched all of the things that belong to a well ordered church service, but he never had seen Christ, the Son of God until he saw it in a mission, saving lost sinners!
I have nothing against the beautiful decorum. I have nothing against the august and exalted ritual. I do say you never come to grips, you never grasp the heart of the Christian faith until you see Christ meet the world as it is and change it to the power, and the glory, and the blessing of God our Savior. This is the message of hope, and of life, and of light, and of glory. “Thou shalt call His name Iēsous, Savior: for He shall deliver His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:23].
While we sing our song tonight, somebody you coming to Jesus in strength, in faith, in help, in encouragement, in repentance, in confession, in faith, while we sing the song, make it now, make it now. There is a stairwell on either side at the front and the back. If you are in the balcony, there is time and to spare, come. If you are on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, come. While we sing the song, while we make the appeal a family you, a child, a youth, a couple; as God shall say the way, shall lead, shall open the door, make it tonight. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.