What’s in a name?
Solve this riddle, "What is something you own but rarely use, yet it is frequently used by others?" Don’t shout it out but think of the answer. Maybe turn to someone sitting next to you and tell them the answer if you think you know. The answer is, "Your name."
So, why is a name so important? Have you ever tried to get someone’s attention without knowing their name? Maybe you are tempted to shout out, "Hey! Tall guy?" and have several people turn and look at you only to sheepishly point at your friend standing next to you. Another more seasonal favorite may be, "Hey you! Over there, with the ugly sweater?" Maybe you carry on an awkward conversation with someone you met before, while struggling to remember their name for 5-10 minutes into the conversation. Yeah, we are all guilty of that one. I am pretty sure if I asked Amy on our first date with the phrase, "Hey hot girl, do you want to go on a date with me?" she probably would have turned me down or our relationship wouldn’t have gone too far. So, how do we (1) truly get others’ attention immediately or (2) begin to establish better relationships with them? Through their name.
So, what is in a name? Many of us have names that are given to us as signs of affection such as Sweetheart, Guppy, Buford, or Shoog. Some are obtained when certain events occur such as Husband, Wife, Father, or Mother. Some names portray power such as President and Leader. Some names imply more humble positions such as Servant.
Many in this world strive to obtain certain names for the power and prestige that come with them. Nevertheless, almost all names have responsibility associated with them. The problem is that if the responsibility associated with a name is neglected, it can lead to heartache, trouble, or even the loss of the name (e.g. a doctor who illegally prescribes medicine).
Luckily for us, one person has lived up to the names he has been called. He has discredited many misnomers attributed to him while holding strong to the most important names found in the history of mankind. Among these names you will find:
- Savior: 48 times (in the topical guide of the Book of Mormon)
- Redeemer: 65 times
- The Righteous Judge: 87 times
- The Resurrection: 52 times
- The Life: Various times across multiple terms
So, who I am referring to? None other than Jesus Christ. These are only a few of the names of Christ. In the Bible Dictionary, you will find hundreds of other names. Could you imagine if Christ didn’t live up to these names. What promises would we have now? What would be the purpose of life? Thank goodness Jesus Christ came through!
Christ is our Savior in that he "save[d] his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21) that every person in the "world through him might be saved" (John 3:17) regardless of circumstance. Without Him, there is "none other name…whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, 2 Ne. 25:20; Mosiah 3:17; 5:8; D&C 18:23; Moses 6:52).
There was a price to be paid for our sins so that the laws of justice could be satisfied. Christ is our Redeemer in that "he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isa. 53:4, Mosiah 14:4) by giving "his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28, 1 Tim. 2:6) at the cost of his own "blood … which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28, Luke 22:20). Our part of the bargain is to return to Him through repentance. This may sound simple but often our pride gets in the way. Take for example, two different events that happened this week:
- I broke my pinky
- I had a hard time overcoming being offended
Which of these two were much harder for me to deal with?
The first has burdened me in ordinary tasks such as pulling the milk from the fridge or buckling Tanner in his car seat. If you had seen me try to put my shirt on this morning, you would have had a good laugh! My level of efficiency has diminished drastically which is very hard for me because I consider myself a very efficient person. You would be surprised how much you use the muscles connected to your pinky.
The second incident, I felt insulted and betrayed this week and pondered (probably too long) over an event. It affected my mood and relationships with those around me. Satan kept encouraging me to harbor these feelings as "retribution" but, essentially, it was only harming myself.
The burden of the first has been very difficult and will continue to be difficult. I may not be able to physically carry things the same way as before, but I can still carry a cheerful attitude (especially while continuing to play ultimate frisbee for another 1.5 hours before knowing it was broken). On the other hand, the burden of the second almost completely crippled me and continuing in that direction would have led to a very terrible future. Thankfully, I asked my heavenly father to help me find in me the power to forgive. The burden I had carried for too long was immediately lifted from my shoulders. It was so easy to forgive this person and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner.
Christ knows the pains and afflictions I am experiencing so he knows how to succor me and my broken pinky. Additionally, he already saved me from my sins, but it wasn’t until I repented that I felt His redemptive power take control! The only thing that got in the way was my own pride.
Thankfully Christ will be our Judge and he isn’t like any normal judge because "he shall judge the world in righteousness" (Ps. 9:8, Acts 17:31; Rom. 3:6; 2 Ne. 29:11; Mosiah 3:10; 3 Ne. 27:16). Even "the secrets of men" (Rom. 2:16) shall be judged by him. When I served on a jury, the judge sat on the stand allowing only pertinent information to be presented in the case. Likewise, I envision Jesus Christ will not allow sins we have repented of to be admissible in "high court." We learn that, "shall not the Judge of all the earth do right" (Gen. 18:25, 1 Sam. 2:10; 1 Chr. 16:33; Ps. 58:11; 82:8; 94:2)?
Jesus is The Resurrection in that the "sting of death is swallowed up in [Him]" (Mosiah 16:8) that "he may loose the bands of death which bind his people" (Alma 7:12). The death of a loved one is a very difficult thing to go through. Christ gives us the hope that we will someday see each other again after this time of probation.
Christ has stated, "I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25). Not only are we resurrected but we can be resurrected unto eternal life. As we learn in John 17:3, "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." What a glorious day that will be to be in God and Jesus’ presence once again!
So what is common between the names of Savior, Redeemer, Righteous Judge, The Resurrection, and The Life? The atonement. None of these names would exist without the atonement. None of us would truly be able to experience the perfect plan of our Heavenly Father and would thus be lost.
I routinely teach classes and feel that until I get to know the names of my students, I can’t really relate to them. It is much easier to get their attention as I teach the material of the course. Just as with my students, I don’t think we can truly become familiar with Christ unless we know his names.
Every week we take upon us the name of Christ by partaking of the sacrament. So what does that really mean?
- Do we know Him as our Savior?
- Do we know Jesus Christ as our Redeemer?
- Do we believe He will be a righteous judge?
- Do we know with certainty that we will all be resurrected through him?
- Do we look forward to eternal life, a gift made possible through him?
If we do not believe these things, then now is the time to come to know Him by these names. Now is the time to act so that the burdens we feel today will be lifted. Again, now is the time to act! Don’t delay. Delay only brings more misery and heartache as I am a witness.
May we so live up to the name that we take upon us every week.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.