WHAT THE NAME OF JESUS IS TO HIS PEOPLE.
Name of Jesus. August 7.
"BE IT KNOWN UNTO YOU ALL, AND TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, THAT BY THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, WHOM YE CRUCIFIED, WHOM GOD RAISED FROM THE DEAD, EVEN BY HIM DOTH THIS MAN STAND HERE BEFORE YOU WHOLE. . . . NEITHER IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER: FOR THERE IS NONE OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED."--ACTS IV. 10, 12.
THIS day the Church keeps holy to the Name of JESUS. And no wonder. It is everything to us: everything here, everything hereafter. If it were not for That, we should be of all men most miserable; if it were not for That, we might indeed envy the beasts that perish. For think what that Name means, and to Whom it belongs. It means a SAVIOUR, and it belongs to the SON of GOD. Both these things are joined together to make this Blessed Name what it is.
There have been others that were called "Jesus." Joshua is the same name; and he did indeed save the children of Israel by bringing them into the land of promise. But no man could be a true SAVIOUR, a real JESUS, to us. It costs more to redeem our souls; so that he must let that alone for ever. But when the SON of GOD takes that Name, then He makes it all our salvation and all our desire. He can save us if He will, for He is Very GOD; and He will save us if He can, for His Name is JESUS. He cannot lie; and if He says that He will be our SAVIOUR, our SAVIOUR He is.
Therefore, this Name might well be given by an Angel; as it was twice. The Archangel Gabriel, when he was sent on that message to Mary, said, "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and call His Name JESUS." The Angel that appeared to Joseph said, "Thou shalt call His Name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins." And therefore, when our LORD was hanging on the Cross, as if to show to all the world that this prophecy was now fulfilled, then this Blessed Name appears again: "JESUS of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." And because it stood there, as the sign of all scorn and disgrace, now it is exalted to the height of all honour and glory. We do not bow at the Name of CHRIST, or of the SON of GOD, or of our LORD, but at the Name of JESUS; because that is the Name which was reviled, that is the Name which was exalted, that is the Name which saves. Think how many of GOD'S servants have gone out of the world with this most sweet Name on their lips as well as in their hearts; how many deathbeds have heard that as the last of all earthly words; how many Martyrs have repeated it just before they received the stroke; how often, in storms at sea, just before the ship perished, in the midst of accidents, in battles, in sudden dangers, GOD'S servants, if they could say nothing else, could at least say this! Think how many miracles have been wrought by that mighty Name! "In the Name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" How the dead have been raised, the devils have been cast out, the blind received their sight, all manner of sickness and all manner of disease has been cured! What is there that the Name of JESUS cannot do? See how it is spoken of in Holy Scripture, in the Old as well as in the New. "For Thy Name's sake," David says, "be merciful unto my sin." What Name? Why, this very Name of JESUS. Because Thou art called JESUS, a SAVIOUR, therefore be merciful unto my sin. "Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the Name of the LORD our GOD." Why? Because "a horse is counted but a vain thing to save a man, neither shall he deliver any man by his great strength;" but JESUS is the Name of Him That is the Mighty GOD. "O GOD, according to Thy Name, so is Thy praise unto the world's end;" according as Thou art called JESUS, so is the praise of those whom Thou hast redeemed: " above all, for Thine inestimable love in the Redemption of the world," as the Prayer Book speaks. "The Name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." "Bring the LORD the honour due unto His Name: worship the LORD with holy worship. Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the Name of the LORD; for His Name only is excellent, and His praise above heaven and earth." And so Solomon tells us, in his Song:--"Thy Name is as ointment, (that is, oil,) poured forth." What does oil do? It gives light, it gives food, it gives healing. It gives light: for JESUS is "the True Light Which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." It gives food: for "His Flesh is meat indeed, and His Blood is drink indeed." It gives healing: for "He Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." As a holy man of old said, (the same S. Bernard who wrote that hymn which we have just been singing, "JESU! the very thought is sweet,") "If you write anything, it interests me not, unless I read there of JESUS. If you speak, I had rather not hear, unless your words are, of JESUS. The Name of JESUS is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, joy in the heart." Yes; for as that other hymn most truly says:
"Is there a thing that moves and breaks
A heart as hard as stone,
Or warms a soul as cold as ice?
'Tis JESU'S Name alone.
One sound of this can truly cheer,
And heal the afflicted soul!
What multitudes of broken hearts
This living Name makes whole!"
Some of you have been wives, and have known what it was to love the very name of husband. This is a weak likeness of what we ought to feel for the Name of JESUS, for He is the Husband of His Church. Some of you have known what it is to love the very name of a child; this also faintly sets forth to us the love we should bear to JESUS; "for unto us a Child is born, unto us a SON is given." Most of you can remember what it was to love the name of a father: that also teaches us the love of JESUS; for He is the Everlasting Father. Many of you know what it is to love the name of a brother: so also here we learn the love of JESUS; for He is not ashamed to call us brethren.
But it is in vain that we try to explain how dear this Name of JESUS should be to us. S. Bernard tells us so, and he, I hope, knew:
"No tongue of mortals can express,
No letters write its blessedness;
Alone who hath thee in his heart
Knows, love of JESU! what thou art."
S. Peter speaks, in a few words, what we should believe concerning it: "Be it known unto you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, Whom GOD raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."
And as this Name is glorious and sweet to us, so it is fearful and tremendous to evil spirits. They believe, and tremble; they know that the Name of JESUS was given for this reason, that He might destroy the works of the devil; they know that He is able to save to the uttermost; they know that whoso cometh to Him, He will in no wise cast out; they hate and abhor His glorious Name, but they fear it more than they hate it.
But what if we have no part or lot in the matter? What if we say, like the citizens in the parable, "We will not have this Man to reign over us?" Then shall we have any advantage from the Name? In the Acts, we read of certain vagabond Jews, who took upon themselves to cast out evil spirits by the Name of JESUS; and they said to the man who was possessed, "We adjure you by JESUS Whom Paul preacheth." And what happened? The devil confessed the Name, but he did not obey them that used it. "JESUS I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man, in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
See that it be not so with us. "This same JESUS Whom we believe to have ascended into heaven, shall so come again in like manner as we believe that He went into heaven/' But if we would not love and serve Him here, it will be useless to call upon Him by the Name of JESUS there. With the Name of JESUS then we shall have no more to do. Then He comes to judge, not to save. If we would not receive Him as JESUS on earth, He will not reign over us as JESUS in heaven. And then, like the evil spirits, we shall find that Name the most tremendous and fearful sound that we can hear. It was JESUS Who said on earth, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" it will be JESUS that will say then, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
"His Name shall be called JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins." So now let us come to Him this very day, "while it is called to-day." Let us call upon Him by that one Name: so glorious and so dear as it should be. Let us remind Him of all it is, and of all it means. JESUS, That should save His people from their sins. JESUS, the SON of the Living GOD. JESUS, the Father of the poor. JESUS, the Comfort of the afflicted. JESUS, the Lover of souls. JESUS, the one True Pearl. JESUS, the Shepherd of the sheep. JESUS, Eternal Wisdom. JESUS, Infinite Goodness. JESUS, the Joy of the Angels. JESUS, the Master of the Apostles. JESUS, the Teacher of the Evangelists. JESUS, the Strength of the Martyrs. JESUS, the Boldness of the Confessors. JESUS, the Husband of the Virgins. JESUS, the Reward of all Saints. JESUS, That was born for us. JESUS, That suffered His Passion for us. JESUS, That was scourged for us. JESUS, That was crucified for us. JESUS, That died for us. JESUS, That rose again the third day for us. JESUS, That ascended into heaven for us. JESUS, That sitteth on the Right Hand of GOD the FATHER Almighty for us. And, therefore, on us, and on all those that trust in His Name, may JESUS have mercy!
And now to GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY GHOST, be all honour and glory, might and dominion, for ever. Amen.