Jesus' Victorious Name
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9. Jesus' Victorious Name

Early Church Christograms

ICXC symbolEach Early Church Christogram is a combination of letters that form abbreviations for the name of Jesus Christ. One of the oldest Christograms is the Chi-Rho. It consists of the superimposed Greek letters chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ), which are the first two letters of Greek for "Christ." Constantine I displayed this Christogram on his military standard in AD 312. The IX monogram is a similar form, using the initials for "Jesus (the) Christ." The ΙΗ monogram uses the first two letters of the word "JESUS" in uppercase. In Greek, the name "Jesus Christ" is indicated by the letters "IC" and "XC." "NIKA" is a Greek verb used in this particular Christogram, which means "conquers," or "conqueror," or even "is victorious." Thus "ICXC NIKA" means "Jesus Christ conquers." In the Christian tradition today and particularly in Eastern Orthodox churches, we find the letters IC and XC in many church decorations, stained glass windows, and wooden icons showing Christ's person. "IC XC NIKA" is technically called "a prosphoron." These letters are so important in the Eastern Orthodox Church they are stamped upon every loaf of altar bread. In this way, the church invites Christians to share in Holy Communion and be part of Jesus' victorious name. Saint Paul refers to our winning role as Christians in Romans 8.37, where he writes, "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

Jesus Conqueror

Christogram on CoinJesus Christ's victory is over the works of the devil and Satan himself. Therefore, Saint John can say in 1 John 3.8, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." Jesus is the victor and destroys the Devil's word! How did the historical conqueror Jesus Christ appear? What sort of person is the carpenter from Nazareth? The holy innocence, Jesus Christ, who is always one with the Father, comes to personally dwell in a young teenaged woman (called a virgin) named Mary. Mary's name in the original manuscripts of the New Testament comes from her original Aramaic name "Maryam" or "Mariam," both of which appear in the New Testament. In the Orthodox Church, the three main titles for Mary are "Theotokos," "God-bearer," or loosely "Mother of God," "Aeiparthenos" or "Ever-virgin," and "Panagia" meaning "All-holy." An angelic messenger tells Mary in Luke 1.35, "the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Highest power will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Jesus, the child of Mary, is the very first personal Body of Christ.

Body of Christ

Body of ChristSaint Paul interchanges the term "Body of Christ" in 1 Corinthians 12.12 with the name "Christ." He writes, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." In Paul's mind, the Body of Christ succeeds the work and presence of the historical Jesus. When Jesus Christ ascends to the Heavens, the Body of Christ continues and today works on earth in the Holy Spirit's power.

Historical Person

Jesus PictureWhat was Jesus like as a historical person? Was he lanky or smallish, smiling, or glum? Does it even matter to us? Strangely, there is little in the New Testament of a physical description of the historical appearance of Jesus. Except for the birth narratives and the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple, there is hardly anything of his childhood. John the Baptist traditionally describes Jesus as "rather bald but with a thick, flowing beard." Saint James describes his brother Jesus as "a young man whose beard was just beginning." Wikipedia writes, "As a Jew in 1st century Judea, Jesus probably looked like a typical Judean man of his time. Research on ancient skeletons in Israel suggests that Judeans were biologically closer to Iraqi Jews than any other contemporary population. Thus in terms of physical appearance, the average Judean of the time would have likely had dark brown to black hair, olive skin, and brown eyes. Judean men of the time were, on average, about 5 feet 5 inches in height. Some scholars have also suggested that Jesus had short hair and a trim beard, following Jewish practices of the time." The earliest depictions of Jesus from the Roman catacombs depict him as free of facial hair, but this may have been a Roman interpretation of what Jesus would probably be like if he were Roman! Who knows?

Fake Reports

Head of ChristJesus' appearance does not seem to be overly crucial to Early Church Christians. They are so concentrated on preaching the Gospel, little else matters. The Early Church Fathers, sometimes described as the "Christian Fathers" or the "Fathers of the Church," seem to have little interest in Jesus' appearance. One early Roman source originated from a letter of dubious origin published in fifteenth-century Italy. It was from a certain Publius Lentulus in Rome to the Senate concerning Jesus. Publius portrayed himself as a Roman Consul during the reign of Augustus (BC 27-14 AD.) Publius describes Jesus as "a medium-sized man, and comely with a very reverent countenance, his hair the color of chestnut, his hair parted in the midst like other Nazarenes, his beard thickish and his eyes gray." The letter was probably fake, for no Governor of Jerusalem or Procurator of Judea is known to have been called Lentulus. However, the "Deeds of the Divine Augustus" lists a Publius Lentulus as a Roman Consul during Augustus's reign (27 BC-14 AD). Therefore, this description is extremely doubtful as I suspect that Jesus' disciples were so completely immersed in the new Faith's life and ministry that preoccupation with Jesus' appearance would have taken away from the relevance of their gospel mission.

Like Him

Jesus Wall MuralJesus' disciples aspired to be like him in works, personality, and character rather than in any other way. He is no ordinary human being anyway but God himself. Jesus' Body was the primary inspirational model for the New Testament church and today's church too. Jesus himself is the source for our being at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century. When rediscovered, this model will provide each of us personally with a clear and focused example for our own Christian lives to follow. Jesus, himself, is the archetype for our lives. We discover the universal purpose of Jesus' life when we see his mission as the Father did. When we view Jesus' career from a distance, we find out his life journey is somewhat like a shapely chalice or footed cup intended to hold a drink. It is like a drinking vessel consisting of a bowl atop a stand with a wide lip, a narrow stem, and a broad base. In the cosmic realm, Jesus' life portrays a progression from glory (at the chalice lip) to humility (at the stem) and from lowliness to majesty (at the base.) We see Jesus one way, maybe in our mind's eye as a likeness of him, but God views him in another way altogether because of his divine mission and Trinity relationship.

Jesus God and Man

Malcolm MuggeridgeMalcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), the renowned British journalist and author, puts it this way, "Jesus, in the eyes of God, a man, and the eyes of men, a God." At the Creation, Jesus has complete equality with God. He is divine in every respect. God makes the crucial decision in Heaven that the Deity should become a tiny, helpless baby on earth. Jesus volunteers. He lays his mantle of glory aside, leaves behind the angels' worship, and undergoes a self-metamorphosis into a helpless human baby. What a beautiful Savior is Jesus!

Super Male Sperm

Sperm and EggJesus' name and its meaning place him in the eternal realm. His earthly life produces the Body of Christ, the Church. The Holy Spirit transports Jesus as a super male sperm to the womb of a young teenaged girl called Mary with her permission to fertilize her egg. Taking the shape of a baby, Jesus astonishes his Father and draws forth the ecstatic worship and praise of the multitudes of angels in being born as a human. From this humble beginning, Jesus relies utterly on his human stepfather Joseph, and his mother, Mary. Mary gives him the name of "Jesus" or "Jeshua" from to the Bible name "Joshua" in obedience to the angel. Jesus sets his eyes on his ultimate purpose and becomes obedient even to his death on a cross. He hangs there like a common criminal, vulnerable, defeated, or so it seems.

Time and Eternity

Malcolm MuggeridgeMalcolm Muggeridge, in his book "Conversion," explains it this way, "At the intersection of time and eternity, nailed there, you confront us; a perpetual reminder that living, we die, and dying, we live. An incarnation wonderful to contemplate, the light of the world indeed." Then the supreme switch takes place. God, the Father, elevates Jesus from the tomb. His natural body rises as a spiritual being in a newly transformed body. The Father acclaims Jesus with supreme honor in a unique cosmic happening! Jesus' name was and is now above every other name.

Jesus' Name

NapoleonNames are significant in life. An infantryman once approached Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French general, saying, "I am pleased to meet you, Emperor Napoleon. You see, my name is the same as yours." Knowing this man's bad reputation and character, the Emperor, is incensed and exclaims, "You must either live up to your name or change it." God calls Christians similarly to live up to Jesus' name. Philippians 2.7-11 tells us that at Jesus' name, "every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord." We must live up to this most powerful name!

"Jesus' Victorious Name"
by Ron Meacock © 2020

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