The Uber Name
The Masonic Lodge claims to know the secret name of God. Judaism regards the 4 consonants that spell Yahweh as the sacred 4 letters never to be spoken. There is, says Philippians 2, a name above every other name, the Uber Name, and it's no secret and it's meant to be spoken loud and often.
The Uber Name is Jesus because He has absolute titles. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, not a way, a truth, a life as if there were others.
Contrary to fallen human reason, many world religions, and even some Christian denominations. You can't feel, think, work your way to God the Father. Romans 8 says that man as he comes from his mother, is an enemy of God. Enemies don't feel kindly towards their foes. 1 Cor. 2 says the natural man can't think his way to God because he doesn't accept the things of the Spirit, thinks they're foolish, and is utterly blind to them. Ephesians 2 says all men come from their mothers dead in their trespasses and sins. Dead men do no work back to God or to anywhere else. Apart from the Uber Name no one comes to God.
The Uber Name, Jesus, has the absolute title of the Truth. At this point, hear the refrain from Three Dog Night's "Liar." "Liar, liar" drives the truth Romans 3 states home to your very soul. "God is true and every man a liar." Nothing contrary to the Truth can be true and is in fact a lie. The Devil says Jesus in John 8 is the "father of lies." The wrath of God from heaven says Romans 1 is specifically revealed against "all who suppress the Truth." You can't go against the Uber Name without bringing uber wrath upon yourself.
The Uber Name, Jesus, is the Life. What the soul is to the body is Christ to the soul. Without the soul, the body does not live. The soul does not live without Christ. Apart from Him says an Early Church father the stench of unbelief, the decay of sin, the worm of guilt, the ashes of emptiness, and loathsome horror enter the soul (Peter Chrysologus, ACC, IVb, 125). Like an animal shot through the heart keeps on moving for a remarkedly long time till it drops as if suddenly realizes "I'm dead," so the soul outside of Christ one day awakes to the horrible reality "I'm actually dead."
Ephesians 1 says the name above, beyond every name that can be named in this age or the next is not only given absolute titles but winning ones. Hilary of Poitiers says, "He Himself has chosen these winning names" (ACC, IVb, 124).
The Way is winning to someone lost in a trackless wilderness. You can't just think you might be lost. You have to know it. The realization that you are lost outdoors comes home when after walking for some time in the direction that you know is the way out you come to a place you know you've already been. If you don't know which direction is a merciful Father, Jesus being the Way is amazingly winning. If you know that left to yourself, you'll do what the sheriff department says drunk people on Lake Travis do. You'll swim down, down till you drown. If all you can see around you is Sin, Death, and Devil and no way out, how winning is it to hear Jesus say, "I am the Way."
Into this fallen world Satan has not sent 1 lie but 10,000 x 10,000 lies, and he doesn't care what lie you believe. He doesn't even care if you don't believe any one of them. Just don't believe there's any one truth, or that truth can be known, or do believe that truth is in the heart and mind of the believer. Truth is whatever is true for you. If you don't believe something is true, it can't be true. This is the guy confronted by a demonic monster saying: "I don't believe in you, so you can't be real." With a roar the beast jumps on him, and what the guy didn't believe to be true devours him.
"He who is the Truth doesn't mock us with lies." So says Early Church father Hilary of Poitiers (Ibid. 124). But that's how we feel in this wrongly named "information age." There are a thousand contradictory truth claims. You especially feel this in the realm of Christianity. There are over 20,800 Christian denominations world-wide; these can be reduced to 5 confessions of faith and further reduced to 3: Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed. But still each one claims to be true and says the Bible supports them. These divisions didn't come about 100 years ago, or even 500 years ago, or even 1,000. They happened as soon as Christ ascended to heaven. John says many false spirits had already gone out into the world by 100 A.D.
Jesus is the Truth is a winning title to the person who has reached 2 conclusions. God has not left the world without the Truth and the Truth can be known. Think about it. Would any loving parent do less for a child? You hear him crying in the woods or even a grocery store, "Where are you?" And you don't answer? You don't show him the way out? Do you think the God who gave up His only beloved Son to find you, who shed His blood mercilessly on the cross to reach you is less loving than you? No, the One who declares Himself to be the Truth doesn't leave you mocked with lies, lost in a morass of contradictions. Don't you dare think He would do to you what you would never do to a child.
Jesus is the Life is winning to the soul who wakes up to the horror that he is locked in a body of death (Ibid. Chrysologus). Saint Paul so awakened in Romans 7. "O wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death." People have such a fear of being buried alive that in the past they were buried with long horns that they could blow after the casket was closed. They might have merely swooned and feared waking to the horror that everyone believed them dead and were about to bury them. If you've awaken to the horror, that your life is death, Jesus hears that fear and says, "I'm the Life." He's the Life for sinners dead in their trespasses and sins because He, being innocent of any trespass or sin, died to pay for yours.
Jesus is the Uber Name because the titles He claims for Himself are unbelievable. The correct translation of the opening sentence is, "You believe in God; believe also in ME." It's easy to believe in God. It's acceptable to believe in God, a Higher Power, a Nameless One of a Thousand Names. America proclaims belief in this god on her money and claims to be under this one god in her pledge. You sound spiritual, pious, deep, when you speak of a god so high above us that no one can understand him. You sound down home wise when you refer to him as the Man Upstairs. But if you believe that Jesus born of the Virgin Mary is that Man that's divisive, unreasonable, and unacceptable to Muslims, Jews, Unitarians, Mormons, and American Civil Religion.
2 Corinthians 4 trumpets that it's in the face of Jesus you see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. This is what God looks like. The God who says in 1 Timothy 6 that He dwells in light unapproachable, the God Hebrews 12 says is a consuming fire, the God who John 1 says "no man can see at any time" is revealed in this Man Jesus. You see Him and you see the true God.
I can say to you what Jesus says to Philip, "Don't you know God the Father after He has been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father." All that you can know, need to know about God is in Jesus. Cease to be bedeviled by the myriad of why questions you have: why did God do this or not do that. Cease to be bewitched by the myriad of how questions you have: How can God do this? See Jesus and know that you have seen all of God that you can see, need to see, will see.
Jesus who says He clothes you in Baptism is revealing the God who doesn't want you to stand before Him naked in your own ways, your own truth, your own deadness. Jesus who says your sins are forgiven before God in heaven by the mouth of a man on earth is revealing a God who wishes to speak forgiveness into your ears today and not leave you in doubt as to what He thinks about you. Jesus who says this Bread and Wine is the Body and Blood He gave on the cross for you to eat and drink for life not death, in truth not in a symbol, for forgiveness that you can touch, taste, smell, hear, and see, reveals that God wants a physical, personal relationship with you a sinner.
Jesus is the Uber Name because the titles He claims for Himself are unbelievable. No one could reason there way to the fact that a Man born in 1st century Palestine is the eternal God. But that's what Jesus says, and He says an even more unbelievable thing. "Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." What greater thing than creation, redemption, and sanctification could there be?
It's proclaiming the truth called Universal Atonement, Objective Justification. When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead He was declaring the sins of the whole world were atoned for; He declared He was reconciled to the world. The work of God, says Jesus in John 6 is to believe in Him. Faith in Jesus receives all that He won on the cross which was the Way to the Father, the Truth that God receives sinners, and the Life that is in His name.
It's a great work to believe this but a greater work is to believe what Romans 5 says: that God justifies the ungodly. This just blows the mind. There is not a single person you know, meet, see no matter how ungodly that God in Christ has not justified. Hear this clearly. This is not saying that everyone goes to heaven. This says what Jesus does here. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life for all. The Way has been paid for all to go heaven. The Truth is no one is automatically excluded from heaven. His flesh was given for the Life of the whole world not just for some.
If you regard Jesus as the justifier of only those who believe in Him. You're saying less than Scripture does, and there's nothing uber about that or a Name that does only that. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Fifth Sunday of Easter (20170514); John 14: 1-12