Reading: Isa. 50:4-10; 51:1-16.
"Father, glorify Thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 12:28).
"I manifested Thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world" (John 17:6).
"And I made known unto them Thy name, and will make it known" (John 17:26).
"Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
In chapter one, after taking some account of the place of the Name of the Lord in this whole universe as the foundation of all God's ways, we went on to the first phase of this matter to try and see how the Name of the Lord is the revelation of the Lord.
Our first survey of its meaning was in three connections: the uniqueness of God's Name, the exclusiveness of His Name, the inclusiveness of His Name. We mentioned the fact that His Name also refers to His complete supremacy. We went on to point out how the glory is linked with the meaning of His Name. God is glorified when that Name is really expressed and known in a practical way. We closed by pointing out that the Name of God is God's reputation. It is His authority and His power. That is the basis of everything.
The Name in the First Place Deposited with Israel
Now we are going to take our second step, which concerns Jesus and the Name. When He was to be born, the word from heaven concerning Him was that they should call His name "Jesus" for He should save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21); that is, Jesus means Jehovah - Saviour. Now, we who are Gentiles not Hebrews, cannot get very far with the Old Testament in relation to the Name of God and all its values and glories until that Name has been made the possession of all men, that is, available to all men, for the Name of the Lord was deposited in Israel. They were the only people who knew the Name of the Lord. He had, so to speak, made them the repository of His Name. He had chosen them for that very purpose. He dealt with them with only one object in view, that His Name might be made known by them and through them. They were called by His Name, separated unto His Name and disciplined to be brought into line with the Name which was among them. Everything having to do with His Name was in the first place their peculiar concern. There is a sense in which it was exclusive with Israel. We are not of Israel after the flesh, so in the first place that Name is not deposited with us. Something has got to happen for us to inherit that Name with all its meaning, values and glories. It has to be made available. We, in some way, have to come into the place occupied by Israel of old in order to inherit the Name of the Lord.
The Name of God Borne by Jesus, the Christ
Well, this is the inclusive message of the New Testament. The New Testament is all about Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, and the New Testament declares that the name of God in all its aspects is borne by Jesus, the Christ. The New Testament reveals that He shares the very Godhead by bearing the Name of God. All that we have already said finds its meaning and value for us in Jesus Christ because of two things. He takes up into Himself the deposit concerning which Israel utterly failed in the glorifying of the Name of the Lord. He takes up that holy deposit with Israel, fulfils all Israel's calling in Himself, (the glorifying of the Name and making it known), and then goes altogether beyond the limits of Israel. He as Son of Man becomes linked with all men to make that Name the inheritance of all through faith, so that in Him Jew and Gentile are made one in the Name. That is another aspect with which we are not going to deal with further at this time. The point at the moment is how Jesus the Christ stands in that Name to make all its meaning, content, value and glory available to all men through faith in the Name.
The core of this universe is love. Right at the very heart of this universe there is a heart. He is the God who is, above everything else and through everything else, love. We are led on, of course, to the great climax and pivot of that love of God, to show how God, as love, has embodied His love in His Son who has come to reveal the love of God and in that way manifests God's Name.
The Glory of the Name Secured by the Lord Jesus
That is the point at which we take things up. Jesus embodied all that the Divine names or name means, and secured its glory. On the one hand it is a long history of the disputing of the name of the Lord in this universe; the hosts of evil who are always challenging that Name and seeking to rob it of its glory and honour, and to bring it into reproach, shame and dishonour. On the other hand, it is the long history of man's failure to glorify the Name of the Lord.
Elohim - the God of Covenant in Creation
The very first form in which the Name of the Lord comes to us in the Bible is Elohim, meaning God the Creator and the Covenant Maker, especially in relation to creation. That is a big subject in itself, but you can probably begin to grasp its significance. It was in that Name that He created the heavens and the earth and man. He is the God of covenant in creation. That means He is the One who has committed Himself in an everlasting and eternal covenant to secure the creation for His glory. That is the basis of the spiritual challenge and of the history of man and the creation. Who will say that through history man has glorified the Name of the Lord? Where is the Name of the Lord with man? Where is the Name of the Lord in the history of this world? On the contrary we can see a great deal more of the dishonouring of God in the creation and especially in man. Man in his own person is no means of glorifying the name of such a One as God. The more we know of ourselves, the less we are inclined to think of ourselves as being very much to the glory of God. We think very much the other way. We will all agree that God's name and glory in the world are being challenged all the time. There is a battle going on over this matter. It has always been an issue in history.
The Vindication of the Name by the Lord Jesus
Now, Jesus came to take up that universal issue of the Name. The glory of the Name was the one inclusive thing which governed His coming. He came to vindicate the name of His Father God. He came to take up all the content and meaning of that Name, to answer the challenge to the uniqueness and inclusiveness and the dominion and supremacy of that Name, for other gods had sought to take the place of that Name, other lords had sought to share His place of worship and power. Men have taken the glory of God to themselves. We know it is the easiest thing in the world for us to be proud whenever we experience the slightest kind of advantage or blessing. It is in us to take glory to ourselves in some way, to attach merit to ourselves if only we can. Nine-tenths of our miserable struggle to try and be better is because we want self-gratification. We want to be something, but God does not look upon anything like that. He will never help us and answer our prayers when we are trying to be something in ourselves. It is all contrary to the work of the Lord Jesus. He came for that Name's sake.
The Crisis of the Cross and the Glory of the Name
As we pointed out in our previous meditation, in this passage in John 12 the Lord Jesus has come to the great crisis of the incarnation, the Cross, and it says that He groaned in spirit. This is such a tremendous thing that is on hand. Oh, here is something far more than a man dying, even though it will be a very painful death. There is something in the realm of His soul which is unspeakably terrible. He groaned. He says, "What shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour' - shall I say that? No, no! But for this cause came I unto this hour." For what cause? "Father, glorify Thy name. For this cause came I unto this hour... glorify Thy name." The Father responds to that at once. He says, 'Yes, I am with you in that. I answer when it is a matter of the Name and not Yours, not Your own deliverance, nothing to do with Your own good; when it is a matter of the Name, I am with You'. That is the very heart of everything. He came to take up the Name to secure its glory. He came for the reputation of God.
The state of things all the way through had not been to the glory of God. It had been something against the very reputation of God. That reputation had to be secured and established in creation, in man, the centre of the creation. That reputation had to be established in the whole intelligent and responsible universe - I was going to use the word, the moral universe, but that word is so often limited in the minds of people. What I mean is people who are morally responsible, or intelligences that are morally responsible, who have the power of choice, action, reason, of fixing their minds and coming to conclusions. That whole universe of intelligent, responsible beings has got to have this Name, this reputation, established at its very centre. It is a tremendous thing which the Lord Jesus came to do. Man had failed, Israel had failed, the creation had failed. There was a question in the moral universe of God, so the Son came. It is in this sense that He is the Son of God's love. It is not just an affectionate relationship. It is a devotedness to an object. He came to take up that great challenge and answer it, that great need, and fulfil it. Jesus undertook the vindicating and establishing of God's Name in this whole intelligent and responsible universe. That is the meaning of the Cross.
See what responsibility rested upon Him in that hour! He knew the vastness of the issues bound up with that hour. No wonder His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground. Have you ever carried an overwhelming responsibility? Have you ever, in your small way, felt the responsibility for some lives? Great things were at stake, hanging upon your decision, upon you. Well, you know what a thing like that can do for you in wakeful, sleepless nights and anxious days, until you are worked up to almost an unbearable, overwhelming distraction. But our incidents of life are nothing, butterfly touches, compared with what He took on and faced in that cross: the issue of the eternal glory of the Name of God in this universe. That was His responsibility. Sonship is responsibility, and He took up that responsibility in man form, not in naked deity, in man form. What an issue was involved in His Cross!
The Cosmic Battle over the Name
That explains so much. You see the cosmic battle in the Cross. Yes, you see from His birth with the hunting Herod prepared to slaughter every boy babe to find that one child, and all through His life the evil forces at work behind men. How often it is said that they took up stones to stone Him (John 8:59 and 10:31). "They... led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong" (Luke 4:29). They came to take Him and He said, "Ye are of your father the devil... He was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44).
Why the movement of these unseen forces through men? Why the Cross? Not just because this Man had been teaching things with which they did not agree. Oh no, there is a sinister background to it all; it is a cosmic battle. The Scriptures can be gathered together to show that this issue was a spiritual one. The whole realm of evil intelligences were deeply concerned about this issue: if possible to quench this One before He carried the matter through. It was a battle.
"Wherefore God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name". There is the issue. He has vindicated the Name, He has established the reputation of God. Every one of us ought to be able to say, "Yes, God through Jesus Christ is proved true, as Saviour, Lord, Keeper, as all that the many aspects of His Name means. His Name is many-sided, all included in one name, and through Jesus Christ I know that His Name stands true". We may not have exhausted it yet; we may have much to learn about the Name and much to come into, but surely we have the foundation. How do we know that God is true and His Name and reputation stand without shame? We know through Jesus Christ. He has made the Name good for us. We know the battle goes on, but we ought to be knowing that that Name is triumphant, and knowing it more and more.
Well, He has taken the responsibility for the Name. The immense issue of the Name is involved in His Cross; there is the great cosmic battle swirling round Him when crucified. And then there is the issue that God raised Him, set Him at His own right hand, gave Him the Name which is above every name, and the little word, "Wherefore" is the explanation. "Wherefore God highly exalted Him" - because He has fought out the issue of the Name. Oh, think of all the implications of the name of Jehovah Elohim resting upon a man. What a burden! I could not take that, you could not take it, altogether we could not take it; we could not stand up to it for one hour of our lives. The vindication of God's Name and all the implications of that vast Name of the Lord in all its aspects and meanings rested upon one man, this Man, Himself man. And He plunged with that name into the depths of hell, triumphed with that name there, bore it up in triumph to the Father's throne. "Jesus, the Name high over all", in every realm. "Wherefore... God... gave unto Him the Name which is above every name." God committed Himself to His Son, to the Man Christ Jesus, committed His reputation, authority, power, and we watch Him, fascinated we watch Him closely, to see how He will bear that Name. Look at the whole list of the names of the Lord:
Elohim - God the Covenant Creator and Redeemer; Jehovah - The Eternally Self-Sufficient and Holy One; El Shaddai - God All-Sufficient; El Elion - The Most High God Possessor of Heaven and Earth pre-eminently; Adonai - Master, Lord, Husband; El Olen - God Unfathomable; Eloah - God Adorable.
And then all the compounds of Jehovah: Jehovah Sabaoth - The Lord of Hosts; Jehovah Jireh - The Lord the Provider; Jehovah Rophi - The Lord the Healer; Jehovah Nissi - The Lord Triumphant; Jehovah Shalom - The Lord of Peace; Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our Righteousness; Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there.
There are more, and you can trace every one of them in Jesus Christ. Is He not the Healer, the Lord Triumphant, the Lord the Provider? Oh yes, and He is the Lord of Hosts, Jesus, Jehovah, Saviour. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus" (Matt. 1:21). We see the tremendous inheritance, we see the responsibility, we see the tremendous triumph.
I trust that we shall see our inheritance in Him when we contemplate the unspeakably great thing that the Lord Jesus has done in taking up this Name beside which there is no other and proving that there is no other; taking up this Name which is all-sufficient and proving that He is all-sufficient and can do everything without our help; taking up this Name and showing that His throne cannot and will not be shared by another God; taking up this Name in all its authority and dominion and proving that it is so.
Oh, you want to start reading the book of the Acts now! "In His name"; "through faith in His name"; everything is in the Name - and it is happening, it is working. He is proving that through the Cross that Name has been vindicated and established. The book of the Acts is just a book of the proof, the vindication, of the Name. The book of the Acts did not stop with the laying down of Luke's pen, it did not finish with the twenty-eighth chapter of that record. One of the things known to the simplest Bible student is that it is an uncompleted story. It breaks off and there are lots of things you want to know. You are left with any number of questions when you read the last verses of Acts 28. What happened here; what happened to that one? Luke has not finished the story. He would have to have lived on until today to write the full story of the works which Jesus began to do. It is the continuation in virtue of the Name of God vindicated, the proving of it, the working out of it.