Yeshua or Jesus?
When coming to a Messianic Congregation, one of the first things I noticed was they worshipped in the name of Yeshua, and questions arose in my heart as to what name I should use – Yeshua or Jesus? I am a Christian and it was puzzling and new to me as I wanted to know more, so I began to meditate and research the ancient roots of my faith and both names. What’s in a name? In our society, we do not look at the meaning behind the name, but Judaism thinks about what the name means, as a characteristic of that person. So, when we think about the name of God’s only Son, we have to look at it from different perspectives. The most confusing scripture to me, as it relates to what His name should be, was Acts 4:12.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12 (NIV)
In the English Bible He is referred to as Jesus. But in the Complete Jewish Bible, He is referred to as Yeshua, wherein this same scripture and the one before it states:
“This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!” -Acts 4:11-12 (CJB)
One of the questions I had coming from a Gentile (Christian) background is, “What name do I call Him by?” He was called “Jesus”, in the Bible I used, which was the NIV (New International Version). I chose this one after I had difficulty with the KJV. Before coming to Beth Adonai, I had rarely heard the name Yeshua and suspected it was His Hebrew name, yet I didn’t know much more than that.
I decided to look at the meaning of those names, and briefly what I discovered was: To the Christian, Jesus means Savior and He is their Christ. To the Messianic Jew, Yeshua means Salvation and He is their Atonement and promised Messiah. Then more questions arose – Are they not one in the same? Do they not mean the same thing?
I dug a little deeper and found that, “Yeshua” is a Hebrew name which has been transliterated into Greek. The English “Jesus” comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name. While some might argue that the name Jesus was mis-translated, you will be pleased to know that I will not bore you with 100’s of pages of information I have researched on this subject, but suffice to say, there is much controversy surrounding which name should be used. Still, it is most proper to call Him Yeshua, for it was indeed His proper name, given to Him by His parents.
After this discovery, I wasn’t satisfied with whether I should begin to call Him Yeshua and not Jesus. I still had questions. I had grown up hearing the name of Jesus as the only Son of God. It was the name used for God’s Son and the Messiah in the Bible I read; and the name that I was baptized in (as well as the Father and the Holy Ghost), after accepting Him as my Savior. Wait a minute I just realized I have another question! I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There it is again, “name of the Son” – but which name? Good question isn’t it?
It was very hard for me to feel comfortable calling Him any other name, since that is the only name I had ever known Him by. I wanted more proof that this was in fact His real name and that is what I should call Him. Then I remembered a story of the Tower of Babel. I went and read Genesis 11:1-8. The short version of the story says, “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. (11:1) Because of what they did in building a tower and disobeying God to fill the earth versus settling in one place, “The Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (11:8)
Did you catch that? He “confused their language so they will not understand each other.” (11:7) God confused their language, so that they would not understand each other, and that is why you can’t just look at a mis-translation of a word and say that one is right over another. Things began to take on new meaning with the names.
It is difficult to give an exact figure of the number of languages that exist in the world, because it is not always easy to define what a language is. The difference between a language and a dialect is not always clear-cut. It has nothing to do with similarity of vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation. Sometimes, the distinctions are based purely on geographical, political, or religious reasons. It is usually estimated that the number of languages in the world varies between 3,000 and 8,000. But there are 6,912 cataloged known languages in the world. Wow! Add to that the miscommunication between husbands and wives when one says “tomato and the other hears tomatoe”, then you’ve got even more differences on your hands!
It occurred to me that the God who created the universe and all that ever was separated us and confused our language for a purpose beyond what we can understand. I don’t think it was just because of our disobedience alone. I believe it had to do with teaching us how to truly communicate and become one again. When I think about what caused me to come to a Messianic Congregation in the first place, it was because I was seeking to learn more about the Hebrew roots of my faith, and I felt drawn by the Spirit there so strongly. But, when I stepped into the doors something happened to me that I wasn’t expecting. The first thing I heard was liturgy and blessings in both Hebrew and English, and then I saw such awe and reverence for the Torah. It’s hard to explain it but I was able to, for the first time, actually see Him as the Messiah through every word written about Him. For I felt that I had stepped back through the pages of history and see Him as they actually did. When they said the name “Yeshua”, it was as if lightning hit me. My heart leapt into my throat, and I knew I’d never be the same or look at things the same. It was a feeling like I’d returned from a long journey in a distant land and had heard the name of my Lord for the first time! I was thirsty and hungry when I walked in and was suddenly filled.
When the blessings were recited I joined in and it was familiar to me but I didn’t know how. As the music played and the words to the music were on the screen, I opened my mouth and sang Hebrew as if it were my native language. I couldn’t believe my own ears! My heart overfilled with joy and felt as if it were about to burst out of my chest. And when I said, “Yeshua” I cried, for I felt that He was standing right there beside me. It was then that I knew without any doubt, that I was where I was supposed to be. I was standing amongst my brothers and sisters and it was different than I’d ever felt before.
We all were truly speaking the same language and worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. I experienced something I had searched my whole life for – complete and total acceptance and belonging. It wasn’t anything anyone did or said, it was observing and participating in worship of God and Yeshua, the way that has been done for thousands of years that touched my heart. The love for our Messiah and honor of His Word (especially the Torah), which I witnessed, was more than I could fathom. Never had I seen the likes and felt it so powerful. It was as if I had come home! I felt like a prodigal child that had returned home and was bathed in love by Yeshua Himself, and this happened as I sang and recited blessings in Hebrew.
As I stood there Jew and Gentile worshipping together as one, I finally understood what it meant to be grafted in and equal heirs of His promised inheritance in Yeshua (Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 2:14-3:6, Titus 3:3-7, Hebrews 6:17-20, Romans 10:12). We were fulfilling His prophecy to be gathered together in His name (Romans 11:11-24). I finally felt completed and that’s all I needed to know, He became Yeshua to me that first day and I will never be the same! For that I will eternally Praise Adonai from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same! From this Gentile’s perspective, I testify, there is no other name by which we are saved, and Yeshua is His name!