Name Above Every Name
Tuesday of Pentecost 13
10 September 2019
We miss the lively sense of the power in the name of God, who is Christ our Lord. In Scripture, sometimes the term "the name of God" refers to the divine speech on the lips of the prophets and apostles, such as in 1 Timothy 6:1, in which Paul requires us to honor authorities "so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled." Yet, even here there is more than a hint that the name of God is none other than God Himself. To attack God's teaching is to attack God. This is why the second commandment forbids us to misuse the name of the Lord our God. To misuse the name of God is to abuse God Himself because He is His name. The worst misuse of the divine name is when it is used to cover false teaching with the pious sounding, "God has said..."
The divine name par excellence is none other than the second person of the holy Trinity. Christ is the divine name that does the work of God in the world. The Psalmist says, "We trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Ps 20:7). To trust in the name is to trust in Christ Himself. The Psalmist also says, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving" (Ps 69:30). First, to praise the name, if it is not God, would be blasphemy. Second, the parallel of the Hebrew poetry makes Him equivalent to His name. The apostles baptized in the name (Acts 19:5), cast out demons in the name (Acts 16:18), preached in the name (Acts 9:28), suffered in the name (Act 5:41), called the gentiles into the kingdom God in the name (Acts 15:17), and were willing to be put to death for the name (Acts 21:13). Of this name the apostle Peter says, "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This name does what Christ Himself does, because He is His name.
This name is the eternal Word of the Father, who spoke light out of darkness (Gn 1:3). This is the same name who for a season bore all human woe by being born of the Virgin. He condescended to our desperate need. He had no need of our human nature, but He assumed it for our good. He does not arrive at His divinity by some labor or work, but is the living name of God who was humbled at His incarnation by taking the form of a servant. Because He is God of God, He could not be exalted any higher than to be God, so He chose to be humbled for us men and our salvation. Here is the true word of the Name in the world. He needs not to make a name for himself like our faux celebrities and too-clever politicians. He has the name that is above every name. No other could be named like it. He hides the glory of His name, so that the glory of His name might become ours through faith in Him.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Athanasius of Alexandria
"It will be well to cite the divine oracles that the unalterableness of the Son and His unchangeable nature, which is the Father's, may be still more fully proved. The Apostle then, writing to the Philippians, says, 'Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father' (Phil 2:5-11). Can anything be plainer and clearer than this? He was not from a lower state promoted. Rather, existing as God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not promoted but humbled Himself. Where then is there here any reward of virtue, or what advancement and promotion in humiliation? For if, being God, He became man, and descending from on high He is still said to be exalted, where is He exalted, being God? For it is plain that, since God is highest of all, His Word must necessarily be highest also. Where then could He be exalted higher, who is in the Father and like the Father in all things? Therefore He is beyond the need of any addition. For though the Word has descended in order to be exalted, and so it is written, yet what need was there that He should humble Himself, as if to seek that which He had already? And what grace did He receive who is the Giver of grace? Or how did He receive that Name for worship, who is always worshiped by His Name? Certainly, before He became man, the sacred writers invoke Him, 'O God, save me, by your name' (Ps 54:1); and again, 'Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God' (Ps 20:7). And while He was worshiped by the patriarchs, concerning the angels it is written, 'Let all God's angels worship him' (Heb 1:6)."

Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1.40
Psalm 20

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call. (ESV)
Lord, You have a name above every name. Help us to attribute all good to it and that all good comes to us from it. Amen.
For Eliana Hardaway, that she would continue to recover and have the peace of God that surpasses human understanding
For Joyce Murray, who is celebrating her birthday today, that the Lord of the church would give her much joy
For clement weather, that the Lord would grant us the fruit of the field
For the conversion of all unbelievers, that they might come to know Christ as the only Savior from sin
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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