I used to really hate my name. It was hard being named Chip when I was little. I’ve heard it all: Chips Ahoy, Chip ‘n Dale, Chipmunk, Potato Chip, Chipster, Chippie, Chipper, and even Vanilla Chip (my buddy Nate told me I was too white to be Chocolate Chip). The names used to really bother me. It was just more ammo for the bullies. I was already a nerdy kid. Having the name Chip, I might as well have had a bandage on my glasses and worn suspenders.
But now I love being named Chip. It’s different, which suits me. I don’t meet many Chips. I occasionally run into someone that knew a guy once, but for the most part when someone says, “Hey, Chip!” it’s a safe bet they mean me. I like that assurance, just in case they’re warning me about danger ahead like a giant pothole or a Buckle salesperson.
If we were to make a list of the most unique names in history (and by “unique” I mean, those that became revered because of who held it not because it was spelled with unnecessary letter y’s) the list would include names like Mahatma, Elvis, Plato, and Jesus. These names point us to the person and all they said and did that goes along with it. Hearing these names brings thoughts, emotions, and memories. But specifically when it comes to Jesus, why is his name so recognizable and unique?
The name Jesus isn’t unique. In fact, Jesus is just the Greek version of Yeshua or Joshua. There were probably lots of guys named Yeshua during Jesus’s time on earth. So how did such a common name become such a big deal?
We could point to his success with the Christian movement. As the founder of the religion with the most followers in the world, Jesus is clearly a revolutionary. Who else can put on their resume that they have billions of followers, friends, or volunteers in their organization? Jesus was definitely a leader.
We could point to his teaching. Instruction such as “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” and the Golden Rule are more than just clever. Their truth has not only stood the test of time but has transcended culture and society for 2,000 years. Jesus was definitely engaging and wise.
We could point to his way of relating to the marginalized. His love for the outcast is well-documented. He touched lepers with his bare hands. He included tax collectors and prostitutes in his inner circle. And wherever he went he spread hope to others in their brokenness. Jesus was definitely kind and compassionate.
The picture starts to emerge – Jesus, caring and kind but strong and wise. Is it enough to say that Jesus was a good man? He was, after all. If you want to know who Jesus was, look in the Bible at his biographies: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They provide us with details about Jesus’s birth, life (including his ministry, teaching, and beliefs), and his death on a Roman cross.
Within these books you’ll see that Jesus was a revolutionary, that he was a teacher, and that he was a warrior for the outcast, but is that all he was? Our calendars use B.C. and A.D. as a way of counting down to a point in time then starting over at 1. That point on the timeline is Jesus and his time on the earth. How is it that the timeline of history turns on his life? Of all the people to affect human history, why is a homeless Jewish carpenter the epicenter of the earth-changing events of the last two millennia?
He created a following for sure. But what was it Jesus said to his followers? He must have convinced them to continue the movement after he was gone. Not only did they continue it, but they died for it. What kind of voodoo magic hypnosis did Jesus pull on them to get them to submit to torture, imprisonment, and death? And not only did his initial followers submit, but for the last 2,000 years followers of Jesus have been murdered for believing in Jesus and his teaching. Surely the last 2,000 years’ worth of followers couldn’t also have been put under some spell by a long-dead revolutionary. No one is that charismatic. Except Kanye. I’m sure his followers will stand the test of time.
Jesus said some extraordinary things during his time on earth. When given the chance to condemn a woman caught in adultery he said, “If there’s anyone here who has never done wrong and needed mercy, you can throw the first stone.”
When asked how to love he said, “Love God first. Then love your neighbor as yourself.” And then he continued by teaching that our neighbor is anyone who shows us mercy, even if they’re not someone we would show mercy to ourselves.
We read about how Jesus did miracles. He healed blind people, sick people, lame people, epileptics, psychotics, and even dead people. Yep. Dead people. As in 4 days, wrapped in bandages, already rotting, inside a tomb, dead people. That’s pretty unusual, don’t you think?
So if it wasn’t his charisma that earned worship, what was it?
Of all the strange things Jesus said and did, in the book of John we read this in chapter 10.
30 The Father and I are one.
Sprinkled throughout the stories about Jesus are insinuations about where Jesus came from, where he got his authority to tell us how life should be. Sometimes he dodged the questions from the skeptics. Other times, like this one in John, Jesus came right out and said who he was.
If there’s anything that sends a revolution down the toilet, the leader saying he’s a god is definitely on the list. If he had said he was a toaster, he might have gotten some strange looks, maybe even a question, “What’s a toaster?” In this case, Jesus wasn’t just saying he was a god, like the Caesars or the Pharaohs of Egypt did. He was telling other Jews that he was the one God, the Creator of the universe. That wasn’t just shocking. That was angering. That was the height of arrogance, dishonor, and blasphemy. How could a man claim to be God?
So they murdered him for it.
What does it mean for Jesus to claim he was God? Please respond with comments below.