Much has been written about the power of names. Many a fantasy novel has approached the concept that names hold power to control the things of the natural universe. This concept is founded in fact, as seen in the doctrines of the plan of salvation outlined by our Father in Heaven. The power of names is what I would like to address this Christmas season.
Names we know
Below are three names taken from the Bible Dictionary in the back of your scriptures. Read the definition of their names then look at the brief description of their life’s work. I’ll connect this to our subject on the other side of the list.
Ephraim – Fruitful – The line of the prophet Israel (Jacob) through which comes the responsibilities of the priesthood and the gathering of Israel’s descendants in the latter days. All those who are not physically from some other house of Israel are adopted into the house of Ephraim.
Elijah – Jehovah is my God – Known for his power in the priesthood, Elijah held the keys to the sealing power of the priesthood. He worked mighty miracles in the northern kingdom of Israel, bringing down fire from heaven, sealing the heavens in a 3.5 year drought, and finally being caught up into heaven in a chariot of fire.
Elisha – God of salvation or God shall save – Elisha was Elijah’s successor in northern Israel. His recorded miracles were “for the most part acts of kindness and mercy, [including] healing a bitter spring; dividing the waters of the Jordan; obtaining water for the people and livestock to drink, multiplying the widow’s oil, raising a boy from the dead, [and] curing Naaman of leprosy.” (Bible Dictionary, pg 636)
Each of us has a name. In fact, we all have multiple names. Our surname means more than just the definition of the word, be it ancient or modern. Names carry with them not only reputations, but expectations as well. When you meet someone with the last name of Hinckley or Monson, doesn’t your mind immediately start to connect that person’s identity with others you know of by that same name?
It may be true that some parents don’t give many deep thoughts to the names they give their children, but every name comes to possess a life of its own, based on how it is treated by its owner. The life we live changes the meaning of our name in the minds of all those who come to know us.
The name of Jesus in the meridian of time was a common name. Many people had the same name. It was the Greek form of the name Joshua, which means God is help or Savior. Joseph named his son Jesus at His circumcision in obedience to the commandment given by the angel Gabriel. Throughout our Savior’s life he was known as Jesus. Jesus, the man, is the one hated by the pharisees and sadducees. They saw Jesus, the man, feed the thousands, and Jesus, the man, walk on water, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, and heal the sick.
Jesus, as a name, came to have special meaning among those who followed his teachings. It also had power among those who hated him. The early members of the Lord’s church were known among the non-believing Jews as the Jesus Believers. The world, and the Jews in Jerusalem knew Jesus as the meddlesome Jew who turned their religion on its head with his claims of divinity.
Jesus is THE Christ, the anointed or the Messiah. There is a difference between the man the world knew as Jesus, a common enough name, and the man Jesus who was Christ. There is only one Christ in all of existence. The man who became the Christ was chosen in the councils in heaven by our Father in Heaven. Our Father in Heaven chose he who would come to be known on earth by the common name of Jesus, to be the Christ, the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the Savior of the world, the Savior of all mankind.
Those in Jerusalem did not know Christ. Christ was only known to his followers, those who took upon themselves sacred covenants at baptism. Those who follow Christ promise to take upon themselves His name. Not the name of Jesus, the name of Christ. Here is a paragraph from the Bible Dictionary that describes Christ.
He is the greatest Being to be born on this earth – the perfect example – and all religious things should be done in His name. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, the Creator, the Savior, the God of the whole earth, the Captain of our salvation, the Bright and Morning Star. He is in all things, above all things, through all things, and round about all things; He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; His name is above every name and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.
Jesus was the name of the man, but it was as his role as Christ that salvation is offered to the human family. It is in his role as Christ that we covenant to take upon ourselves His name. All good things come from Him. The priesthood connects us to the power by which Christ created the universe and governs it at this very moment. It is as Christ that he rose from the dead and was resurrected. It is as Christ that he will stand in judgment on the whole human family in the last day.
This season of the year is spent in celebration of the birth of Jesus as a baby. But he was more than just another baby being born. His birth was the prelude to our God’s atoning sacrifice and his resurrection from the dead. It was but the beginning of the most momentous life ever to have been lived.
This Christmas season, when we sing the sacred songs that celebrate His birth and life, I hope we will all remember that we have tied ourselves to Him by the covenants we have made. We have taken upon ourselves His name, the name of Christ. We are Christians, the believers of Christ. We have covenanted to live as he lived, love others as he loved, bless the lives of others the best way we know how, in keeping with the spirit of His divine example.
We pray to our Father in Heaven in Christ’s name, the title of our Savior. Yes, his name was Jesus, but so were, and are, many named Jesus. The Jesus we praise is the only person in existence to be named by God, our Father, as Christ, the anointed one.
I hope you will feel the thrill and privilege it is, and should be, to be connected to this great being through covenants you have made. In humility and gratitude we approach the emulation of His perfect life. And through His love for each of us we can have our sins forgiven, and the grace of Christ can transform us into beings in His own image.
Merry Christmas, and God bless you in your emulation of the life of His Son, Jesus, the Christ.