Introduction (March 9) - Living into His Name
Posted on: March 8, 2019
by: Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor
by: Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor
Your name is the desire of our soul (Isaiah 26: 8).
The earliest devotion to Jesus was the same as that given to God. His name was reverenced. Titles quickly became associated with his name. “My Lord and my God!” cried out Thomas (John 20: 28). “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul called him often (Eph. 1: 3, Rom. 5: 11). So did Peter (1 Pet. 1: 3) and Luke (Acts 28: 31). In another letter Paul went even further, speaking of “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2: 13). More than 80 times, though, he uniquely used the address, “Christ Jesus.” The title “Christ” magnifies the name “Jesus” with both adoration and awe. What man has ever evoked such ardor across the centuries?
From the beginning Jesus inspired hymns to be written about him full of ascriptions of majesty (See Col. 1: 13-20 and Phil. 2: 5-11). His birth was sung by angels, “For unto you is born this day . . . a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 11). And in the book of Revelation a combined earthly and heavenly choir sings: “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5: 12). The words and works of Jesus of Nazareth have awakened the mightiest powers of adoration in human language.
Exalting the name of Jesus brings us into relationship with him in the most intimate way. While no ordinary human could live up to such praise, nor handle the worship, with Jesus it is most appropriate. In fact, we know that no matter how much we say about him, we have never said all that he is, nor proclaimed his glory sufficiently.
So exploring the names associated with Jesus will necessarily engage our minds and hearts, our thoughts and affections. We will seek to gush over the titles for Jesus revealed to us in Scripture. We will stretch our minds to reach toward the heights and depths to which he has gone to save us. We will strive to sync our daily lives up with the will of the Lord Jesus Christ for his creation.
When I began this study, I wondered if I could find 42 names for Jesus in the Bible. Now I am sorry we are limited to just 42! I’m glad you’re along for this journey of praise of our only Redeemer and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
How to Use This Study 20 Minutes a Day
I invite you to spend the next six weeks exploring day by day 42 of the many names in Scripture for the person and work of Jesus. Each day we will take up a new name. Plan to spend about 20 minutes in the process. The day’s work is always divided into three sections:
1) Explore the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we will read Scriptures that include the day’s name. We will use our minds to ponder the significance of the name through comments and questions. The daily names are grouped into themes for each week. I was astounded to see the rich tapestry of revelation and praise contained in the Biblical titles for Jesus.
2) Pray the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this middle activity, we want to let what we learned sink down into our hearts even as it rises in our praise. I will invite you to take up specific prayers exalting the name of Jesus. This, I believe, will be the most formative part of our daily work.
We will use daily the ancient Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer fits naturally into the rhythm of breathing. Repeating it several times actually opens our souls. The testimony of millions of believers is that this prayer takes us far beyond any fear of “rote repetition” we might have into deepening intimacy with Jesus.
Then, we will add a prayer in the same style that expresses the particular name of Jesus for that day. Again, we will pray it for about a minute straight so the words sink deeply into us.
3) Live into the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we will read Scriptures that direct us to the application of the particular name of Jesus in daily life. And once again I will invite you to pray, this time using the reliable words of hymns both ancient and modern.
Often, I will invite you to sing (!) during these prayers. I have consistently found that my experience of connecting to Christ Jesus strengthens as I sing as well as say prayers. Don’t worry, no one will hear you! We provide audio recordings on the church app should you want to hear or sing with the tunes.
The Challenge: What Can You Get for 14 Hours of Your Time?
The most striking thing I am going to ask you to do each day this Lent is read and pray repetitively.
I’m going to ask you to trust the process. To keep going past the strangeness until this becomes a natural way to pray. To realize this ancient method is not “too Catholic” or “too spiritual.” It arose in the Christian soul long before we were separated into Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant believers. I’m asking that you ask the Spirit to form you through the repeating of Scriptures and prayers just as much as through study of the new passages each day.
By the end of Lent, I want you to have studied over 100 passages teaching you the meaning of the names of Jesus and how these titles apply to your life in Christ today.
I want you to have memorized two passages of Scripture because you have read and prayed them every day for 42 days. Trust that these two verses are potent enough to bear 42 days of exploration. And when you are finished, they will belong to you, for they will reside in your memory!
I want you to have prayed the ancient Jesus Prayer more than 200 times so that it will always be a part of your life, part of your very breath.
I want you to have prayed each of the 42 names of Jesus multiple times as you meditate on the Biblical meaning of these titles and thus allow the knowledge of Jesus to move from your head to your heart.
All of this in just 14 hours! That’s 20 minutes a day for 42 days.
I promise if you take this challenge, you will know Jesus in a fresher and deeper way.
Because the Scriptures are that powerful.
The Spirit is that faithful.
These forms of prayer are that reliable.
And Jesus is that worthy of our attention.
Fare forward, beloved congregation! How great will be our joy Easter morning when we sing of the Risen Savior after these 42 days of prayer together!
A Word About This Year’s Art
Each of our six images come from churches in Ravenna, Italy which date back to the fifth and sixth centuries. They are mosaics: pictorial representations created from thousands of tiny pieces of colored glass. Their vivid colors have endured through the centuries.
Ravenna is a small city in central Italy, near the Adriatic Sea. Beginning in 402, this little metropolis became for several decades the imperial capital of the western Roman empire as the pressure of “barbarian” invasions made Rome itself unstable. In the 500s Ravenna came under control of the eastern Roman Empire for several centuries. East and West met with this infusion of Christian artistic energy and imperial wealth. So in the century between 450 and 550, stunning churches were built which contain unsurpassed mosaic art.
Today, little Ravenna contains eight buildings designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The spiritual impact of the Ravenna mosaics surpasses even their technical artistic beauty. Pilgrims feel caught up in the worship of Jesus Christ when surrounded by these mosaics. Personally, I experienced a mystical quality of being taken up into the world of Scripture and the adoration of the Triune God. The theme of offering flows across the individual churches. In the mosaics, we see in dozens of ways how God offers himself to humanity: through his prophets, the revelation of his Word and above all in the life, death, resurrection and reign of Jesus Christ. In the mosaics we also see how we give ourselves back to God through the offering of faith and worship, especially from those who sacrifice their lives in martyrdom.
I hope you feel drawn upward to Christ through the reproductions of these six beautiful mosaics.
Posted in: Living into His Name - 2019 Lenten Readings