Jesus: The Name Above Every Name

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Like lots of other little kids, when I was growing up I had some pets at home. I have to confess, though, that I wasn’t very creative in naming them. In fact, I was pathetic. I had a little black dog named “Inky,” a hamster I named “Hammy,” and a goldfish named – yep, you guessed it – “Goldie.” It’s a good thing, I suppose, that I never had a son or daughter – they probably would have been named “Boy” and “Girl.”

But names are important, and none more so than the names found in the Bible which often carry special meaning. And at the top of the list of significant names of the Bible is, of course, “Jesus!”

The Gospels tell us that when the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to reveal that Mary’s child had been conceived through the Holy Spirit, and that Joseph shouldn’t hesitate to take Mary as his wife, the angel said: “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21)

Jesus means “one who saves,” and thus we’re reminded that the whole purpose of Jesus entering the world was to redeem us, rescue us, and save us from our sins. Jesus accomplished that by his whole life, but ultimately by his sacrificial death on the Cross. There Jesus emptied himself for our sake, and for that reason “God greatly exalted him and bestowed upon him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend.” (Phil 2:9-10)

“There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to men by which we are to be saved,” St. Peter fearlessly preached. (Acts 4:12)

Yes, Jesus means “Savior,” but what does he save us from? He saves us from our sins and the consequence of our sins: death. Without Jesus our lives would be a futile, meaningless journey without a destination. How precious is the name of Jesus, always to be praised!

Something to think about: “O my Jesus, write thy adorable name on my poor heart, so that I may also have it ever on my lips. I hope to live, and so do I hope to die, having thy name always on my lips.” (St. Alphonsus)