In my last post, I discussed the Song of Hallel, where Psalms 113-118 were sung as part of Jewish Passover tradition. There’s an interesting phrase in the middle of Psalm 118:
“Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the LORD.”
What does that mean?
Scholars point to two things which are true and yet I believe somehow insufficient to capture the essence of this verse.
First, Jewish scholars point to the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6, where Aaron is told how to bless the people of Israel.
23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24 “The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ‘
27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Essentially, as a priests, Aaron and his sons are being given authority to bless the people of Israel in the LORD’s name. God is giving the priests authority to speak to the people on His behalf.
Secondly, scholars point to this verse being a Messianic prophecy. Based on the gospel accounts, this also appears to be true. These are the words being spoken upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, on Lamb selection day in preparation of the Passover.
8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna originally meant God save me, but the phrase had turned into some kind of cheer. From the context of what people were cheering, we see a connection to the son of David and a coming Kingdom. The people expected that Jesus was going to be the anointed redeemer of the nation of Israel (Messiah), only that wasn’t God’s plan for this time in history.
What’s in a name?
We live in an age where personality or charisma is considered more important than character. It has been said that in America in the 1800s, your name was associated with your character. Your character was who you were when things mattered, and not about putting on a good show. American culture shifted in the 1900s with the focus on how you presented yourself and how to sell (e.g. Dale Carnegie – “How to win friends and influence people”). Essentially we learned how to pretend.
Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
So what does it mean to use someone else’s name? That is a concept that may feel somewhat foreign to most of us now, since we don’t live in kingdoms in this world. Yet, examples are still present.
South African minister and writer Andrew Murray suggests that using someone else’s name occurs legally (in business), in life (family blood lines and adoption), or in love (taking the name of a spouse).
While use of someone’s name granted authority like the priestly example above, the greater understanding was that a name represented someone’s character or what they were like.
One of the most profound revelations that I have personally received was that Jesus came to show us the Father. Specifically, He came to show us what the Father was like.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…”
Jesus would go on in this dialogue to invite His disciples to ask for anything in His name.
Come ask me for the things you want or need:
13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
This also shows the character of a good Father. A good father want their children to be able to come and ask them for the things that they need or want. Even if the answer is no, good fathers want their children to be comfortable enough in their relationship with to come and ask. It’s about children being able to express their hearts in the context of a loving relationship and trust.
To be clear, Jesus wants relationship versus being used for power. For instance, the sons of Sceva got their proverbial lunch taken when using His name without a relationship (Acts 19:13-17).
The following verse is one of my favorites in scripture, not that I have obtained understanding yet, but it gives me a sense of direction:
23 “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
“You have seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
I would suggest to you that Jesus was blessed because he came in the name and character of His Father. He did what His Father would do. In every reference to God except one, Jesus referred to God as My Father (Avi in Hebrew, Abba in Aramaic). The Hebrew for Avi (translated my Father) is shown below:
You won’t find that kind of relationship anywhere in the Tanakh (old testament). No wonder the Pharisees wanted to stone Him.
The one exception to Jesus calling God His Father was when he felt abandoned by God on the cross bearing the weight of the sin of this world, along with the shame and scorn of his crucifixion (Matt 27-16). Here, he only called him, “My God.” Jesus came to know our feelings of what it felt like to feel cutoff or abandoned by God. Most of us can relate to this feeling in some season of our journey, whether it’s really true or not.
I want to give you some examples in scripture of how Jesus showed us the character of the Father.
I came to serve, not be served, and I will love and embrace those considered least:
35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
I reward the smallest things done for the sake of my name which exhibit my heart:
41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
I will never abandon you and will teach you the things of the Spirit:
16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–
17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
I am gentle and humble, learn from me:
29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This morning, we had a mourning dove just sitting on the railing of our back deck. It was resting peacefully even as my wife and I moved around in our kitchen. Normally doves are easily startled and fly off.
Much has been written about the I AM statements of Jesus. They too show us the heart and character of Jesus (e.g. I AM the good shepherd), but they also show us the heart of Jesus’ Father.
I want you to know that I love you and want you as my own child:
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
1 John 3:1
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
My personal challenge to you is to ask for an understanding heart to know the heart and character of Jesus, and by inference, that of His Father. When we do things by the spirit and with the heart and character of God, then we too, are truly blessed.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name and character of Jesus and our Father.