Rachelle Dekker wrote “Life is series of forgetting and remembering.”
If you hang around me for any period of time you’ll probably hear me share those words because they are some of the most freeing I have ever encountered. They remind me that I’m not going to get it right the first time–or the twenty-first time. And that’s okay.
There will be seasons on this faith journey when I remember who I am and who God is and I’m living out of that place of remembering.
But there will also be seasons when I forget and I’m living out of that place too.
Forgetting is just a fact of life this side of eternity.
During this season the Lord gave me the opportunity to sit in a seat ten rows back from the stage at a women’s conference and get some reminders about identity. The first talk of the weekend was about the importance of names, how they carry the weight of identity with them.
I was challenged at the end of the talk to look up the meaning of my name and that simple exercise changed things for me. For the first time in a while I saw myself as God sees me and it’s changed the trajectory of my thoughts about myself.
I also walked away from that conference with a thought: If I’ve so easily forgotten who I am and how my name defines me, what have I forgotten about Jesus? What am I believing about him that isn’t true, and what do I need to remember about who he really is?
It took me a while, but eventually I set off on a search through Scripture so that I could remember, and what I found changed me too.
Why the names of Jesus matter
If you’ve been in a forgetting-season, one of the easiest ways to be reminded of the truth of who Jesus is is simply by looking at his names. And he has a lot of them! This past summer I dug into the gospel of John and found so many.
And that’s just the beginning.
I’ll share a little more how to study the names of Jesus in just a minute, but first I want to talk about why it even matters that we study his names.
1. The names of Jesus remind us who he is.
Names have a funny way of defining us, and Jesus’ names are no different.
The names of Jesus found throughout Scripture give us a clear understanding of who he is. The name Jesus actually means “savior” or “deliverer.” That truth makes me catch my breath because it adds so much more depth when the angel shows up to Mary and Joseph and tells them that this child born of a virgin will save his people from their sins.
Rabbi is another name you will find people in Scripture using to address Jesus. Rabbi means teacher, and that is who Jesus is too–not just to the original disciples or the people he walked the earth with. He’s our teacher–still instructing and teaching and directing through Holy Spirit, showing us the way to walk, teaching us how to love, helping us understand his Word.
When we pay attention to the names of Jesus we are reminded of who he really is.
2. The names of Jesus remind us what he’s done, is doing, and will do.
If we need a reminder of what Jesus is up to and how he works, we don’t need to look much further than his names. Savior of the World is a good name to start with.
Jesus is the One who saves. He saves not just the Jews, but the entire world. All we need to do to be saved is believe he is who he says he is–who his names declare him to be.
The name Good Shepherd reminds us how he relates to us in the here-and-now. As Psalm 23 describes, Jesus is the Shepherd leading us and guiding us to places of rest and revival, the One who walks with us through dark valleys.
Jesus is the Redeemer and Restorer, setting things right, making things new. He is at work and he desires to partner with us in that work. He is the One who desires relationship with us–to show us how well he knows us, and so that we might know him.
3. The names of Jesus remind us of who we are.
The unexpected thing I learned as I started digging into the names of Jesus is that his names also define me. Let’s go back to that name Rabbi. If Jesus is the teacher then I’m his student. That means I’m sitting at his feet, paying attention, learning, following his example.
Jesus is the Light of the World and since he’s living inside me, that means I’m a light too, pointing others who don’t yet know him or who have forgotten him, to the True Light.
Jesus is the Bread–the life source, the substance, the provision, the stustance–and for lack of a better word, I’m a consumer. I eat of him, not literally of course. Rather, I sit in his presence, I soak up his Word, I let him be the One who gives me strength.
There’s so much to be gleaned from focusing on the names of Jesus, which is why I wrote an entire Bible study on the topic.
Name Above All Names: An Invitation to Remember Who Jesus Really Is is a 31 day journey through the gospel of John. Each day we focus on a different name. There is a passage to read, some space to journal, a short teaching, and some reflection questions to help you apply what you read and invite you into deeper relationship with the Lord.
The study is available on Amazon now, and it is also what my Devoted Community will be going through this Advent season, beginning December 9th. I’d love to have you join us! Simply join the Facebook group, order your copy of the study, and show up online December 9th. And maybe invite some friends to join us too!
Let’s make this the season we remember who Jesus really is.
Let’s let his names remind us who he is, what he’s up to, and who we are in him.
Live in his love!
Related: Restoring the Wonder of Christmas