Nativity Devotion, December 1: What’s In a Name?

Nativity Devotion, December 1: What’s In a Name?



“For to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord”  Luke 2:11


Good morning Prayer Team!

One of the things that confuses about God are the various names we call Him.  Or is it “them”?  The correct answer to this question is we worship ONE God, in three persons.  So, we refer to God in the singular—Him.  We pray to the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each has a specific role and each is referred to by different names.  Today’s reflection examines the names of God the Son:

Jesus—The earthly name given to God’s Son.  “She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:23)

Emmanuel—“Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel, which means God with us.”  (Matthew 1:25”

Messiah—The promised deliverer for the people of Israel: “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things.’” (John 4:25)

The Christ—The title of the promised Messiah: “Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20)

Lord“And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is well that we are here; if You wish, I will make three booths here, one for You, and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’” (Matthew 17:4, at the Transfiguration)

Savior—From the account of the Samaritan Woman: “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

God“And Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas answered Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:27-28)

Master—Jesus said “neither be called masters, for you have one Master, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:10)

The Word (in Greek, the Logos)—In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)  This, incidentally, is the theme of our whole study—“And the Word become flesh.”  More on this to follow.

Son of God“And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32-33)

 Son of Man“’But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—He then said to the Paralytic—‘Rise, take up your bed and go home.’” (Matthew 9:6)  I have always struggled to understand what this particular title means.  One meaning is that the “son of a man is a man,” pointing to the humanity of Jesus.  The other definition comes from the Old Testament Prophecy of Daniel and points to His divinity:  “I saw in the night visions, ‘and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days (God) and was presented before Him.  And to Him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.’” (Daniel 7: 13-14)

Son of David—Used because Jesus was a descendant of David through Joseph: “And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possess by a demon.’” (Matthew 15:22)

 Lamb of God—This title relates to the feast of the Passover, when a lamb without blemish was killed, and its blood spread over the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, so that when the angel of death (the tenth plague) “passed over” Egypt, it would save the children of the Israelites while the first born sons of Egypt would die.  (Exodus 12)  So Jesus is also revealed as the Lamb of God, who does the same thing for us.  He died for our sins, and through His Blood we too “pass over” from death to eternal life: “The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)

Light of the World“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” (John 8:12)

King of the Jews—As the Messiah was foretold to be the deliverer of the Jewish people, Jesus was also called “King of the Jews” by the Magi at His Nativity: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2)  The same title was also at the Crucifixion, by those who put Him to death: “And over His head they put the charge against him, which read ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews.’” (Matthew 27:37)

Rabbi (which means “Teacher”, another name used for Jesus)—“Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God!   You are the King of Israel!’” (John 1:49)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the names given to Jesus in the Bible, but as the message to the shepherds from the angel offered the names of “Savior,” “Christ”, and “the Lord,” I thought it would be helpful to introduce the other names given to Him as well.

Isaiah, who was one of the prophets who foretold of the coming of Christ, also offered many names for Him, in a prophecy that is read at the Royal Hours of the Nativity, as well as at the Vespers:

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  (Isaiah 9: 6-7, read at the Royal Hours of the Nativity and at the Vespers of the Nativity)

Have a great day!

+Fr. Stavros

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About author

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “ and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”