“What’s in a Name?”*

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians 2:10-11

My husband and I tossed a lot of choices into the rejection pile when we were selecting names for our first child. We had both been teachers for many years, and certain names carried negative connotations. Others were just too common. We refused to add another Michael or Karen to a fellow teacher’s class roster.

Shakespeare’s Juliet said, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But we all know that some names drag stinky baggage behind them. We never considered naming our son Judas, Samson, or Napoleon. And we omitted Delilah, Jezebel, and Cleopatra from the “girl” list.

Other names reek with ridicule. I admire C. S. Lewis, but I wasn’t going to burden my son with Clive. I am also an original Star Trek fan, but no daughter of mine was going to be named Uhura.

When the angel appeared to Joseph of Nazareth, he told the expectant father to name his son, Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1: 21). The Greek word Jesus, means “Jehovah is salvation.” However, according to the Gospels, most individuals called Jesus “Teacher”—a title of respect, but not necessarily an indication of devotion.

Ironically, that is still the name by which most people call Jesus. The skeptics I know as well as the ones I hear speaking publicly, quickly identify Jesus as a teacher, at least in the sense that His instruction was wise and worthy of emulation. Sadly, however, they reject Him as Savior.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). No wiggle room there. Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else” (Acts 4:12) No alternative routes there, either.

Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote the chorus, “There’s Something about That Name.” And there is. Forgiveness and redemption, grace and adoption, hope and eternal life. Jesus. Salvation. Name above all names.


The Hebrew word for salvation is yehowshuwa. Jacob was the first to use that word in Genesis 49:18. Why do you think he uses it?

Moses uses yehowshuwa in Exodus 14:13 and then again in Exodus 15:12. In what ways does the crossing of the Red Sea illustrate the redemption Jesus provided for us?

David uses yehowshuwa twice in Psalm 3. The word is sometimes translated “help” or “deliverance.” What does God’s yehowshuwa provide for David in times of great distress?

To listen to the lyrics of the Gaithers’ song, go to

Denise K. Loock

*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at


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