Heart Cry: Two Syllables People Will Die For
I wish to read for you from Philippians 2. These are the words of Paul, but in fact, they are the Word of God.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.”
May God bless to us the reading and the hearing of this portion of His Holy Word.
Pray with me, please. Give me Jesus, Lord. Give me Jesus. You can have all the rest. Just give me Jesus. Amen.
I must tell you that it takes a lot to get me upset. But anyone who knows me well knows that one thing that can guarantee my getting upset is when a person’s name is mispronounced or misspelled or omitted. And the reason that’s true is because the Bible quite clearly teaches us that a person and a person’s name are indistinguishable. The person is the name, and the name is the person. And so therefore, since that is the truth of Scripture, if we are going to be obedient to God’s Word, then it means that we must place the highest priority value upon a person’s name. Now of course, of all the names recorded in human history, no name is as superlative, as significant, as sublime, as sacred as the name of Jesus. The great apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in the city of Philippi, dug way down deep in his heart and managed to produce what some people call the single most beautiful passage in all of the New Testament. I would not disagree with that at all. In fact, let me ask you to listen once more to these magnificent words. “Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Ah, yes. Paul is reminding the Philippian Christians and, thus, he is reminding us that we are always to speak with glory the name of Jesus. And we ought always to kneel before the power contained in that wondrous name. The songwriters, Gloria and Bill Gaither, put it like this: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that name.” Oh, yes indeed. There is something about that name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
That name, Jesus, is a sign of privilege.
Have you ever stopped to think how it is that we react when other people use or maybe even misuse our names? If, for example, someone pronounces our name in a way that is funny, we actually, in a sense, feel foolish down inside ourselves. If someone forgets our name, we feel that we’re not really very important in that person’s eyes. If we forget someone’s name, we are frightfully embarrassed. But if someone remembers our name, oh, that makes us feel good all over. That is proof of the biblical truth that the person is the name and the name is the person. The person and the person’s name are indistinguishable. And that’s also why it is so important to us for other people to know our names.
I guess that’s why I so love the passage in John 10 where Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I call My sheep by name, and My sheep know My name.” Amazing. Jesus there is underscoring the deep loving personal privilege life-giving relationship that exists between the Son of God and the children of God. He knows their name. They know His name. I want you to wrap your heart about this great truth that God, in Jesus Christ, actually literally knows your name and knows my name, as well. Think of it. This One who is the great, eternal, unchangeable God, this One who is the creator and sustainer of everything that is, this One who has within Himself everything that is holy, wise, good, and true, this great eternal infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing God, this God who counts the stars in the skies and the sands on the shores and the hairs in our heads, this God actually, in Jesus Christ, knows our name. And when we understand that, there is an overwhelming sense of privilege because we know that we belong to God and we are His and He is ours forever. What a glorious thought.
John Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides Islands in the Pacific. Occasionally in his writing and in his preaching, he would reflect back on his growing up years in the little town of Dumfriesshire in Scotland. His family lived in a modest home there. But in the back of that home, there was one room, a very small room, a very special room. It was into that room where John Paton’s father would regularly go for his time of personal prayer. And as a child, John Paton would frequently overhear his father praying in that little room, uttering the name of Jesus with such intimacy that John Paton came to believe that Jesus was a member of the family. And then John Paton would observe when his father emerged from that room, there was a glow on his face that made that child know that his father had been in the presence of the Lord. While reflecting on that years later, John Paton said, “If ever the worst possible catastrophe were to fall upon me or upon my ministry, my mind would instantly take me back across the years where I would hear again my father’s prayers and see again the glow on my father’s face. And I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only had my father given me his name, he also had given me the name of his Savior, Jesus.” Oh, let me say to every parent in the sound of my voice right now—let me say to every parent, give your child your name, yes. But beyond that, please, I plead with you, give your child the name of Jesus. Because there is an awesome privilege in knowing the name of Jesus, knowing that Jesus knows your name, knowing that you know Jesus’s name, knowing that you belong to God, knowing that you are His and He is yours forever. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Oh, yes, there is something about that name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
That name, Jesus, is also a source of power.
I remember hearing about two fellows driving down the highway in southern California. And they passed the city limits of a town, and the name of the town was on the sign marking the city limits. It was L-A J-O-L-L-A. And the driver said, “Well, here we are in the town of La Jolla.” And the guy in the passenger seat said, “No, that’s ridiculous. It’s La Jolla. Look how it’s spelled. L-A J-O-L-L-A. Lajolla.” And the driver said, “No, that’s not right. It’s Spanish. And in Spanish, J-O-L-L-A is pronounced Jolla. The name of the town is Lajolla.” The other fellow said, “That is ridiculous. I can read. It is Lajolla.” The driver said, “Okay. I’m going to pull off the road to that place right up ahead there. There’s a man standing out front, and we’re going to ask him how you pronounce the name of this place.” So sure enough, they pulled off the road, rolled down the window, and the guy in the passenger seat said to the man, “Sir, would you do me a favor? Would you please very slowly and very distinctly tell us the name of this place?” “Sure,” the man said, “Burger King.” Well, some names, I guess, are a joke. But the name of Jesus is no joke.
Oh, when you have and know the name of Jesus, it brings great joy to your life, yes. And sometimes, the name of Jesus can evoke joyous, riotous laughter, yes. But there is no joke about the name of Jesus because the name of Jesus is the source of tremendous power. Acts chapter 4, Peter and John heal a man. They are actually arrested for doing that. They’re put on trial, and in the trial they’re asked, “How was this man healed?” Peter immediately responded, “I’ll tell you how he was healed. He was healed by the power of the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” The power of the name. If you go a little further in the book of Acts, chapter 11, there we are told that at Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians. Now that fascinates me. It may be something you’ve never really thought about. But up to that point, the church was small and struggling. But beginning at that point, right at that point, the church became so incredibly powerful that it literally shook the great Roman empire into ruins. And I believe it was because at that moment, the followers of Jesus took upon themselves the name of Jesus. They called themselves Christ-tians, Christians. And it was when they took His name upon themselves that the church received a power beyond all earthly human power. There is power in the name of Jesus. We dare not forget the power that is available to us, repeating that name over and over and over again. It yields a power all its own.
My grandmother certainly understood that. She’s now with the Lord. But when she was 90 years old, she was living alone in an apartment in Mobile, Alabama. One day, an intruder broke into her apartment, seized her, put a knife to her throat, demanded that she give him money, or she would die. Immediately, forcefully, my grandmother cried out, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” And she began to repeat the words of the Lord’s prayer. That so startled the intruder that he loosened his grip on her neck just a bit, enough so that she then leaned down and bit hard into his arm. He screamed in pain, threw down the knife. She tore away from him and literally dove through the screen in an open window and ran to get help. Amazing. 90 years old. Haha! And you know what she said afterwards? “Don’t ever underestimate the power of that name.” Oh, she was right. And I’ve never forgotten it.
Her words remind me of what Saint John Climacus once said. He said, “Flog your enemies with the name of Jesus. There is no more powerful weapon in Heaven or on earth.” Oh, yes, there’s something about that name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. That name releases power so that we can face the most perilous times and places in life. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Ah!
That name, Jesus, is also the secret of prayer.
Whenever we as Christians pray, we always conclude our prayers by saying we pray in the name of Jesus. And that, we should do. But I want us to understand something very clearly at this point. This is the secret of real prayer. Jesus says it Himself. John 14, Jesus says, “I will do whatever you ask in My name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Do you hear that? “I will do whatever you ask in My name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “Yes, God is ready to work in us and through us in life.” But Jesus wants us to understand that that does not mean that we have carte blanche in our prayers. That does not mean that we can just take anything that pops into our mind, hand it off to God, and expect God to jump into action doing whatever it is we want Him to do. God is not some celestial bellhop ready to do our bidding. God is not some glorified Santa Claus ready to fulfill our every little wish. No, no, no. Jesus says, “If you truly pray in my name, I will respond. Yes. But I will respond in ways that bring glory to God the Father.” Catch the distinction. That’s so important. I know there are times in life when we feel knocked down and knocked about and knocked out. I know there are times in life when we feel terrible about the things we’ve said or the things we’ve done. I know there are times in life when we feel battered and crushed by the circumstances we encounter.
In those times, Jesus is always there. Yes. And if in those times we truly pray in His name, if we ask God to give us peace and pardon and power or maybe all three, if we ask God to pour into us strength and courage and patience and perseverance, if we ask God to enable us to become good examples of what it means to be a Christian in those circumstances, if we pray in those terms, and if we pray truly in the name of Jesus, then Jesus will answer those prayers. And He will answer them in a way that brings glory to the Father who is in Heaven. That’s the secret of truly praying in the name of Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Oh, there is something about that name. Jesus. Jesus.
Throughout all the years of my ministry, I have seen and experienced the power of that name more times than I could ever possibly recount for you here. I have stood at countless bedsides of pain, and I’ve spoken the name of Jesus and I’ve watched the comforting peace His name brings. I have held the bereaved in my arms and felt their sobs shaking their bodies, and I’ve whispered the name of Jesus into their ears. And I’ve witnessed how hope then begins to take hold of them again. I’ve seen the rantings and the ravings of the angry, the vicious, and the obscene stop cold when the name of Jesus is directed at them. I’ve seen the mere mention of His name bring strength to sinners, encouragement to those who are discouraged, empowering love to those who are young, bouyant hope to those who are older. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s something about that name.
Just two syllables. That’s all. Jesus. Two syllables. But I tell you, there are people all over this world today who would be willing to die for those two syllables, and I am one of them. There is no question about it in my mind. There is no doubt about it in my heart. There is no hesitancy about it in my spirit. I am one of them. And I want you to understand that my great unshakable hope and my constant prayer is that the day will come when at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is King of glory now. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s something about that name. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Soli deo gloria.
To God alone be the glory.
Amen and amen.