How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear… In an unbeliever’s ear–not so much!
“King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known.”
My dad had a good ‘name.’ Not everyone liked him, but in the communities where God privileged him to live, he gained a reputation, as we all do. When I returned to Northern Ontario many years ago, and served in pastoral ministry in the same community, I was blessed to meet many people who had known him. When I preached earlier this month in a community where he and mom lived for several years, again I met several who knew him ‘by name.’
Dad loved the Bible and had many verses memorized. Two of his favourite books were certainly Psalms and Proverbs. He attempted, on a variety of occasions, to impress upon us various Biblical texts from these books, as life-guiding principles. One of them I heard a multitude of times was Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
Jesus Christ had and has a good name. The ‘name’ of a person in Hebrew culture was given as a summary of all that they were and would become. Jesus, was ‘named’ on the 8th day after his birth (Luke 2:21). Joseph and Mary had no long discussions, it seems, about the name selection process. Angelic messengers had carried the news – “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Named before birth, he carried this common name throughout the communities where he lived. By the time we read Mark 6, Jesus is a fully grown adult (in his 30s), and his reputation has preceded him. King Herod hears of his teaching and his authority and the ‘followers’ Jesus has deployed, particularly in Northern Israel. The conclusion of this monarch – “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead…” In Herod’s logic, there was no other explanation for the “miraculous powers…that were at work in him.” Herod’s troubled conscience kicked into high gear–but we’ll pick that up in a later post.
Herod had a name, a family name, a reputation which still dogs his name in history books. Jesus has a name, but what a different reputation. We may or not become ‘well known’ for our name, but we carry with us the name of Jesus, the name above all names.