When Nancy asked me to help her research the names of Jesus for an upcoming series, I thought—to be honest—"This will be interesting, but sort of ho-hum." After all, I'd heard most of those names since I was a small child. What more was there to know?
So as I began my research, I thought about the words of Paul: "that I may know him . . ." (Phil. 3:10). But my perspective was knowing more about Jesus, not getting to know Him better. I had no idea what God's Spirit had in store for me as I studied. With each name, my understanding of Jesus' character and roles grew, but even more, the understanding of His work in my life.
I have treated Jesus' very personal, intimate, private anguish so lightly. My heart is broken over my insensitivity.
I was struck by the comparisons I noticed. He is at the same time my Friend, Advocate, and Judge. He is the humble Lamb of God and yet my Great High Priest and the mighty Captain of the Lord's Host. I learned more about Jesus from His Jewish roots as the Branch and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and wondered at His willingness to become my Redeemer and graft me into the family of God.
I was sure I knew everything there was to know about the Good, Great, Chief Shepherd; so imagine my surprise to learn He is also my Eternal Shepherd (Rev. 7:16–17). That makes me smile. I will always be His little lamb.
But it was the study on the Man of Sorrows that gripped my heart and changed how I will see Jesus forever. You see, I've always avoided this topic. I figured there was so much emphasis on Jesus' sorrows, I wanted to focus on other aspects of His experience. I even co-wrote a book to help women see that Jesus, being as much man as God, no doubt had wonderful times of laughter with His band of disciples.
So I was overwhelmed when I looked deeper into the pain in the Man of Sorrows' heart.
I saw Jesus over His lifetime and so many things that grieved His dear heart.
- As I "relived" life with Him, I saw the public scorn and sorrow when His family didn't understand.
- I observed disappointments, deep sadness, and desolate loneliness.
- I heard the ugly crowds.
- I realized His pain at rejection by Israel.
- I saw the disciples fear and desertion and the cowardly hypocrite's kiss from Judas.
- I wept over His struggle at Gethsemane—pre-living the pain—and then the actual suffering and awful separation from the Father that came at Calvary.
I knew then that I have treated Jesus' very personal, intimate, private anguish so lightly. My heart broke over my insensitivity. I weep to think of it.
And then I read the words, "for the joy set before Him" (Heb. 12:2). Jesus endured it all, embraced it all . . . for joy. He knew, because of His obedience, there would come a day when the saints of all ages will gather around the throne of God and all heaven will rejoice. Jesus will look at those He has Redeemed and, though He may remember all the pain, we will make Him glad. With grateful hearts we will praise Him for all eternity.
The Father elevated the risen, ascended Jesus to the place of highest honor, and gave Him the name above all names (Phil. 2:8–11), and someday we will perhaps learn of yet another name that no man knows except Jesus Himself (Rev. 19:12).
I cannot hear anything now that deals with Jesus' names without weeping. As I sat in church, hearing the choir sing "Your Great Name," I broke down crying and had to leave. As I drove home another day, listening to "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe" on the radio, I had to pull over. My eyes were so clouded with tears.
I am so thankful for this study and am prayerful it will touch hearts and help us know Jesus as never before.
Which of Jesus' names has most encouraged you through the years, especially in difficult circumstances?