Jack Graham - Name Above All Names
This is the beginning of something I believe is going to be epic and that is a message series on person and work of Jesus Christ. We're calling it "TELL ME THE STORY OF JESUS". Something does happen at the very mention of His name. The atmosphere changes; everything changes at the very mention of His name. I've been knowing this name - Jesus - since I've known my own name. And I'm so very grateful for parents and family who taught me early-on, who whispered in my ear the name of Jesus, who sang the songs of faith, "Jesus loves me; this I know for the Bible tells me so".
So throughout my life I've been hearing the story of Jesus. Like some of you. You're blessed if someone shared the name of Jesus with you early in your life and you came to follow Jesus as a child. Some of you met Jesus as a teenager or a university student, or a young adult; and you've been discovering since that day the power of Christ in your life. Some of you came to Jesus later in life and you're doing a little bit of catch-up perhaps of the story of Jesus. The title of this very first and introductory message to the series is "The Name that is Above all Names".
And, of course, that’s taken from Matthew chapter 1, and I want you to see verses 21 to 23 because we meet Jesus in the Gospels 9 months before He was born. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, she conceived, and Joseph her espoused husband, her husband-to-be was stunned by this news that she was expecting a child. What was he to do? An angel appeared and gave him this word. Verse 21, Matthew 1 and following: "'She will bear a son, and you shall call his name (say it) Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' And all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and ye shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).'"
And so the Child was born and the Scripture says Joseph called Him Jesus. Mary and Joseph, the parents, the first to hear that name. That name is a Hebrew name. Actually, a common name in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Joshua or Yeshua which means "Jehovah saves, Yahweh saves, God saves". So it is clear that in the very name of Jesus is the nature of Jesus and the mission of Jesus who came to seek and to save the lost. "He will save His people from their sin". He came to forgive us and to set us free from the power of sin and death and hell. And so it's Jesus, whose name is above every name.
The great theologian and missionary, the Apostle Paul said it in Philippians chapter 2, "That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God". Wonderful name! Powerful name! Beautiful name of Jesus! What is there so special and supernatural about this name? John Blanchard who is an apologist for the Christian faith suggests that there are about 60 billion, 70 billion maybe, we don't know exactly people who have lived since the dawn of human history. Billions and billions of people who have lived. And of the 50-60 billion people who have lived on the face of the earth, there's just a handful of people who have really made a mark, really made a difference, really changed history. Just a handful.
And among those who are just a handful, Jesus stands above all. His name is the most quoted name in history. If you're interested in knowing what the other nine on the list were, that the people came up with: Napoleon Bonapart, William Shakespeare, Mohammad, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Adolph Hitler, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Thomas Jefferson and maybe you could add to the list, the great people in history. But here’s the point that I want you to know and make today. You can’t include Jesus on any other list of human beings! Because Jesus Christ is not just a good man, even a great man or the greatest man: He is the God-Man! He is the God of heaven and earth! He is the Lord of life!
What is it about Jesus of Nazareth that sets Him apart from everyone else so that He is the incomparable Christ? You can't compare Him to anyone. What about it because when you think about it, He never traveled but a few miles from His own hometown, never left the country except when His parents in an interlude took Him over to Egypt for a few years and then brought Him back. He never traveled very far; just a few miles from this hometown of Nazareth, and yet His name has traveled to the ends of the earth! His message, the story of Jesus is everywhere on planet earth; virtually everyone on the earth can now know His name. He never wrote a book, not one! And yet He is the author and the finisher of our faith.
Jesus wrote His own story. He's the author of this story! And we're praying that His story will be your story and my story. But all the books in the world that contain, the libraries in the world that scrutinize Jesus, some who criticize Jesus, who speak of Jesus, who theologize and eulogize Jesus. All these books of the world. He never wrote one and yet there's been more written about Jesus Christ than any person in history! He was a carpenter's son on earth. Grew up in His earthly father Joseph's home and carpenter shop. He had no formal education. His little town of Nazareth, kind of a funky little town. Oppressed by the Romans in that day. It was a wild town in many ways. At the time of Jesus there would have been 4-500 people living in His hometown. Just a few people.
I preached one of my first revivals as a young preacher at Pickle's Gap, Arkansas, near the Toad Suck ferry right outside of Conway. I mean, a little town. So Jesus is from Pickle's Gap. He's from Nazareth, this little hick town. And yet He is known throughout the centuries and throughout history. His own people wanted to kill Him. People who lived in Nazareth. At His inaugural message in the synagogue there in Nazareth they heard Him claim His deity and His messianic ministry and mission, and they took Him to the edge of town and were about to throw Him over a cliff when He just walked right through them and passed right through them. Many people have tried to destroy Jesus and take Him out but you can’t stop what God has started. What God does in Jesus Christ. The world's great art and literature.
You know, Jesus never painted a painting. He never wrote a drama or musical, and yet literature and drama and music and media. The recent popularity of Chosen, The Chosen, I hope you're watching it, from every generation from art to drama to stage production is Jesus, Jesus and more Jesus! He never wrote a song and yet there have been more songs written about Him, more melodies than anyone else in history. He lived 33 years, most of what is recorded in the Gospels is His 3-year ministry on earth. And of the 3-year ministry of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, something you may not have thought about but there are only parts of 26 days in the life of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, the eyewitnesses. Twenty-six days. Part of 26 days. Yet in 26 days or less Jesus changed the world.
What is it about this special, this supernatural name? He never started an educational institution or a seminary or a synagogue; He started a church and the world has heard the message of Jesus. He’s the most important person. He has been studied, He has been analyzed, He has been talked about more than anyone on earth. And why is this? What is this that has happened? Who is this one? That’s what we’re going to be talking about week after week. Why is He so unique and compelling? Why Jesus? First, the name of Jesus. I told you it means Jehovah saves. Our God saves. There are actually in the Bible many names that describe Jesus because one name could not describe Him.
My friend Robert Morgan the author did a study. He scanned all the Scriptures from beginning to end, looking for the names of Jesus. The names, the illustrations, the appellatives, the descriptions, the titles of Jesus and he came up with over 350 names describing Jesus, because no one name can describe the infinite God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. But His name embodies His nature, and therefore, His mission. Our God saves. He came to seek and to save the lost. And it is that name that we proclaim. The name that was given to Him by God the Father. And it’s that name in which there is power and there is prayer and there is presence and there is authority. It's all in the name of Jesus!
The great hymn writer and pastor John Newton put it this way: "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear; It soothes his sorrows, heals is wounds and drives away his fears". How many have cried out to that name in times of fear and death and sorrow and grief? It is that name in which there is power and there is healing. It is all in the name of Jesus! His name is for everyone. You can't limit Him with language r socio-eco, I mean Jesus is for everyone. His name to the ends of the earth! His name is not for one group or one race or one kind of personality. The name is for everyone and anyone, whatever you do, whoever you are.
To the artist, He's the altogether lovely; to the architect He's the Chief Cornerstone; to the astronomer He's the Son of Righteousness, He rises with healing in His wings; to the author, the writer He is the Author of eternal salvation; to the baker He is the Bread of life; to the banker He is the hidden treasure; to the biologist He is the Life; to the botanist He is Rose of Sharon; to the builder He is the Sure Foundation; to the carpenter He is Door; to the educator He is the Truth that comes from God; to the farmer He is the Lord of the harvest; to the florist He is the Lily of the Valley; to the geologist He's the Rock of Ages; to the horticulturist He's the True Vine; to the judge He is the Righteous Judge; to the juror He is the Faithful and True Witness; to the jewelry He's the Pearl of Great Price, to the lawyer He's the Counselor and our Advocate.
To the newspaper editor, even to the media He's Good News of Great Joy; to the philanthropist He's the Unspeakable Gift; to the philosopher He is the Wisdom of God; to the preacher He's the Word of God, to the sculptor He is the Living Word, or the Living Stone; to the servant, the laborer He is Good Master; to the shepherd He's the Chief Shepherd; to the soldier He's the Captain of the Lord's Army; to the statesman, to the governor, to the president He's the Desire of all nations; to the theologian He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith; to the sinner He's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; to the Christian He is God of very God; He is Son of the Living God. He is the Savior, He is the Redeemer, He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Hope of Glory. Our precious Lord Jesus, our coming King!
There's just something about His name! The name of Jesus! Yes! No wonder then we can speak of His fame. Because of His name, His fame; because of who He was. Jesus of Nazareth. In Luke chapter 18, verse 37, Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, He was just passing through one of those small villages around the Sea of Galilee, and the crowds would gather. Some rejected Him, His own rejected Him. But the common people heard Him gladly. Multitudes gathered. Miracles were performed. Lives were changed and His fame grew and grew and grew. Just a boy, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth. How odd of God to do it this way! He lived a perfect life. He spoke like no one else has ever spoken, words that... You know, Jesus was not just a teacher who came from God; He was God who came to teach. And the crowds began to follow Him and they listened and they hung on every word. They experienced His holy presence.
And His fame spread from the little towns around the Galilee to the city of Jerusalem and all the way to the temple, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. Just a small band of believers and followers and eye witnesses to His resurrection took the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. His fame is unparalleled to the degree that on this day one third of the world’s population believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him, and profess Him as Savior. Millions will tell you from every background of life that Jesus changed my life. That’s His fame. Many have predicted the death of Christianity through the centuries. They thought they took His life; He gave His life. They put Him in that tomb and said it's over. It wasn't over.
And here's why we still speak His name. This is the reason for His fame, forever fame. He came out of the grave. And the message of Jesus is that "because I live, you will live also". And because He lived and because He lives. He lived and He lives! If Jesus was still in that grave, you would have never heard of Him. He would have been gone forever; just another one. But Jesus came out the grave and we know His name because it is true, He is the inescapable Christ. He is the one and the only one who can be your Savior.
Larry King, the great interviewer was being interviewed by Bryant Gumbel, and they asked Larry King, Gumbel asked Larry King who is Jewish, was Jewish, "If you had one question that you could ask God, what would you ask"? And Larry King said, "I would ask Him if He had a Son". Good question. The question. Jesus asked it. "Who do men say that I am"? Jesus took on the names of God. The great I AM. What were His claims? He claimed to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sin. He claimed that God had given Him all authority in heaven and in earth.
Jesus claimed that "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". Jesus claimed that "I am the Light of the world, and if you reject Me, you will walk in darkness and judgment". Jesus claimed that "If you do not believe Me and follow Me that you will die in your sins". Quite a claim, isn’t it? He said He came down from heaven as "the Bread of life". He claimed, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he be dead, yet shall he live". Jesus claimed (John 14:10) "I am the way, the truth, the life and no man comes to the Father except by Me". Jesus said, "I will judge the nations" in Matthew 25, and determine the eternal destiny of billions of people.
Quite a claim. He experienced and accepted worship as God. For example, when Thomas after the resurrection, said "My Lord and my God". And Jesus accepted it. He didn’t say, "No, don’t say that, don’t say that". He accepted the skeptics confession, doubting Thomas’s great confession of faith. I think Thomas sometimes gets a bad rap. I think he was just a man with some questions and he wasn’t afraid to look for the answer. Jesus claimed that "Heaven and earth with pass away, but My Word will never pass away". All authority in heaven and earth is given to Me.
Now, you have a decision to make. Is He right or wrong in what He named and what He claimed? When He said He was Jesus Christ are you who they say you are? Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. And the reason that Jesus deserves and demands our full allegiance, therefore, and obedience is because He is preeminent. Doesn’t want a place in our lives, prominence in our lives, but preeminence and obedience in each of us. How are you going to know God? You say, "I want to know God. If there's a God, how can I know Him"? Not by religion; not by reason, though our faith is a reasonable faith with evidence, but not by reason. Not by the rules of human effort and self-discipline. Not by rules, not by religion, not by reason!
How will we know God? By revelation! And the revelation is Jesus Christ! John put it this way: "In the beginning was the Word (the revelation), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the same was in the beginning with God. And all things were made by Him. Without Him was not made anything, that was made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men". His revelation. Jesus is the revelation of God and that’s how you know Him. So the question then that we all have... Jesus answers the question who am I. But we have another question. It was the question raised by Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus. And he said, "What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ"?
Will you accept Him or reject Him? Will you say yes to Him who calls you and follow Him all the days of your life? Will you give Him the proper place of preeminence and Lordship in your life? What right does anyone have to call themselves a Christian if Jesus is not Lord of their life? So is Jesus Christ your Lord? Have you confessed Him as your Savior and your Lord? I want to give you that opportunity right now. Just right where you are, watching on a screen somewhere, watching on PowerPoint television, listening on radio, right here in this room. The Spirit of God is speaking to you. What will you do with Jesus? Say yes. Just say:
Jesus, I invite You to come into my life. I turn from my sin and I trust in You and You only to save me. I believe; I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life, Lord Jesus.