patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Monday, March 11, 2013


At my conference, someone directed my attention to a postcard featuring a photo of one tattooed man embracing another from behind with the caption, “Mexico: Where ‘Jesus Loves You’ takes on a whole new meaning.”

That got me to thinking about how, in English at least, even Jesus’ name has lost almost all of its original meaning. For one thing, it has lost, as most names (both in the Bible and out) have, its meaning as a regular word—in this case, as a diminutive form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which once meant Jehovah saves.

I don’t know how common Jesus was as a name in Jesus’ time. Apparently not nearly as common as Simon or Joseph or Judas or even Joshua, since the Bible offers many with these names but only one person named Jesus. (A magician mentioned in Acts 13 who was blinded for trying to pervert a new convert from the faith comes close with Bar-Jesus, or “son of Jesus,” but he may have intentionally taken on the name in order to cash in on Jesus’ reputation, as another sorcerer named Simon the Magician, mentioned in Acts 8, tried to do.)

For most people today, though, the name Jesus isn’t really even a name in any normal sense. Few (with the important exception of Spanish speakers) would even consider naming their son Jesus. It is a name reserved for one and only one person who lived here over two thousand years ago: Jesus of Nazareth.

All of which I find interesting. That God chose a diminutive form of Joshua—that is, a nickname, along the lines of Joshy!—as his son’s name. That no one else in the Bible gets called that. That Spanish speakers name their sons after Jesus, but virtually no one else does.


  1. It is interesting that while every other attribute of Christianity seems to be under open attack and defiled in some way or another, the name of Jesus is still relatively untainted (except that it is probably most often used as a expletive). Even the use of Jesus as a name in Spanish speaking countries is often an attempt to honor him. I like that God has protected this name.

    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Also note that Barabbas' name was also Jesus - see Mat 27:16-17. The crowd could choose to let go either Jesus the Son of God or Jesus the son of the father.

  2. Wow. I didn't know that about Barabbas. Indeed, most translations leave out the Jesus part. Another one of those things. It often worries me how much our theology is shaped by translators with agendas.

  3. I like to think that when we earnestly search for God and truth, he is faithful to provide us with what we need. What worries me more is what we choose not to see/read/understand/acknowledge in the Bible because it doesn't mesh with our worldview or is inconsisitent with the god we created.