Hated for His Name (Luke 21:5-28)

A person’s name is not simply a vocable, but it is linked to especially two things.  It is linked to everything about that person’s identity and it is linked to what that person does (or did).   Simply put, your name is linked to who you are and to what you do. The literal meaning of a name may not identify these things, but nonetheless these two things are linked to each name.

When Jesus promised, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake,” He was identifying the fact that His Name—identifying who He is and what He does—will make those associated with it the objects of hatred.  Similarly when anything is done “in His name” it is done in connection with who Jesus is and what He does (or has done), and such Jesus-identified workers are the objects of hatred as well.

So what is the “who” of the name Jesus that will generate such hatred?  First, His name is The Name that is above every name.  What does this mean?  Simply put, He is God.  He is Yahweh (e.g. Isaiah 40:3).  He is one of the three persons of the Godhead, each person being 100% God, (attested throughout Scripture; of Jesus’ deity see e.g. Col. 2:9.).  Such hatred is generated because this “God-with-us” is indeed a man; God now—and forever—has flesh and blood.  If we tenaciously hold to this belief—that Jesus is eternally God and man—we will not only be mocked, but because the devil is the ruler of this world, we will be hated by all for His name’s sake.  More could be said of the Name of Jesus linked with His identity as God, but branch off of this identity and find a unique reason He was hated particularly by numerous Jews:  He was identified as the Christ, the long awaited supreme Prophet, Priest and King.  Jesus did not fit the common Jewish preconception of the Christ, so those who linked the name of Jesus with the identity of the long-awaited Christ were hated by such Jews.

So the Name of Jesus not only identifies “Who” He is, but it identifies “What” He does.  The devil not only bars his teeth and goes into a frenzy when Jesus is identified as the Christ, the Son of God, but similarly Satan and his world lash out in hatred when the saving work of Jesus is identified.  Every Christian knows the “What” of Jesus—what He did:  He came to seek and to save the lost.  To accomplish this He went to the cross to bodily pay for the sins of the world, to die mankind’s death, to absorb our sin-caused misery.  Thus it is when we are asked what we preach, “We preach Christ crucified.”  This, along with His cross-verifying resurrection, identifies the primary work of Christ inseparably linked to His Name, and inseparably linked to the hatred extended to those who believe it.

Of course the cross is meaningless to a person unless that person comes to realize sin and that he/she is a sinner who was conceived and born as such.  Like King Herod who beheaded John the Baptist because John had exposed him and his bloodthirsty wife as adulterers, so also when the world has its sins exposed—for that must be done before the cross of Jesus has meaning—it, like the Pharisees facing Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel, seethes with murderous hatred.

It is no wonder then that when the Name of Jesus is shared—the Name that identifies Him as the Son of God who came to die and thus release man from sin—the world, as it hated Him, hates those proclaiming His Name as well.  May we ever be identified as those who both bear and share the Name of Jesus, and as we are hated by the “world” realize this life is only temporary, for in the Name of Jesus—uniquely bestowed in Baptism—we have the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.