Jesus as the Incarnation of G-d's Name
(What do we mean by G-d's Name?)
What is a name? When a person introduces himself, he tells his name. Giving his name, he entitles the one who received it to use it and, calling him by name, elicit his attention, i.e., his presence. A human name is ordinarily a sound. It elicits the attention of the one to whom it belongs because he identifies with that sound, and, when addressed by that sound, offers his attention to the one who called him.
But G-d’s Name is not merely a sound. No combination of sounds could suffice to bring His Presence before us because the mind of man cannot recognize the presence of a being that is infinite and simple (so perfectly one that it has no parts). To understand the Name of G-d, we have to distinguish between the Name we call which elicits His Presence, Infinite and Simple Divinity Itself, and that through which the Infinite and Simple G-d is made present to a mind which is blind to infinite simplicity. That, too, is called G-d’s Name, for, like a name, it serves to bring the Presence of G-d before us.
The Name of G-d: Is it divine or created? It must be divine, for no created thing could mediate the infinite simplicity of G-d. To do that, it would have to be commensurate with His Infinite Simplicity, which no creature is. Moreover, if a creature mediated the Presence of G-d, the Divinity it mediated would remain infinite and simple, and therefore “invisible” to the human intellect, and, so, not present to it. Therefore, the Name of G-d must be Divine, something attributable to G-d Himself that communicates His Presence to man even though He is Infinite and Simple and the human mind has no grasp, cannot even acknowledge, the presence of an infinite and simple thing. If G-d has placed His Presence among us, and we know, of course, that He has, it can only be because He has a name and has revealed His Divine Name to us.
“And he who sees me sees him who sent me.”
Is Jesus the Son or is He the Father? He’s the Son, of course, so how can he say that to see him is to see the Father? He should say, “He who sees me sees the Son.” The answer lies in the concept of what the Son, the Name, of G-d is.
When a person introduces himself and says his name, “I am Joe,” what he means is that calling “Joe,” will elicit my attention, my presence, my self. He might have said, “Call Joe and you get me.”
G-d’s name—not the sound we recite when we address Him, but that of G-d through which He makes Himself present to us—can be understood in much the same way. It is that of G-d through which He offers us His Attention, His Presence, His Self. The Name of G-d exists for only one reason: to communicate the Presence of the Father. A person who recognizes G-d’s Name knows it by the Presence of the Father which it communicates. Jesus says, “he who sees me sees him who sent me,” because, even though He is the Name, he can also be seen as an ordinary person. The person who sees him in that way, of course, is not really seeing him, for He is a Divine Person, the Son, G-d’s Name. “He who sees me” means: the person who sees me for what I truly am, the Son, the Name of G-d, will see the Father, because a person cannot recognize G-d’s Name without also experiencing the Presence of the Father.
The first petition of the Lord’s prayer is “hallowed be Thy Name.” For what are we asking? G-d’s Name, whether it be the Incarnate Word or the Written Word, can be seen without being recognized as G-d’s Name. Jesus of Nazareth can be seen as an ordinary mortal, and the Written Word can be seen as a human document. They are hallowed when they mediate the Presence of G-d. The first petition of the Our Father is for His Presence: that that through which He offers us His Presence should fulfill its purpose and mediate His Presence. This petition is, of course, a veiled reference to Jesus, to the Incarnate Son, Himself.
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
Jesus is a Divine Person. His body is the Body of G-d—the Body of the Son--that will be glorified and ascend to the right hand of the Father. It is not, as the Jerusalem Temple was, merely G-d’s dwelling place having no intrinsic relationship to G-d Himself. So why does he refer to himself as a temple?
Here, too, the answer lies in the concept of G-d’s Name. The Name of G-d is like a Temple: Just as a Temple locates G-d’s Presence and offers men an opportunity to enter that Presence, the Name of G-d is the “place”—that through which-- we encounter the Presence of G-d. The Presence of G-d descends to us through His Name in much the same way that it descended into the Temple of Solomon. And just as the Name of G-d is in some mysterious way G-d Himself, the body of Jesus—the Incarnate Son—is in some mysterious way G-d Himself, for since Jesus is a Divine Person, His body is the Body of a Divine Person, the Body of G-d.
The existence of G-d’s Name is a mystery. We cannot understand how it is at once intrinsic to His Simple Divinity while yet, appear to be distinct in such essential ways. “I AM,” the Name of G-d revealing Him as Being Itself, the source and ground of the limited being of all creatures, could be located in space (in the flame of burning bush or at the summit of Mount Sinai) because the Great Name of G-d mediates the Presence of Infinite Being Itself without, itself, appearing unbounded. “I AM can communicate with man and make the Will of Being Itself known to him because it does not appear possess the simplicity of Being Itself. Nor can we understand what G-d’s Name does to make Present to man the Infinite and Simple Divinity which is, indeed, beyond his ken. We can only marvel and affirm, as the midrash says (Pirkei d'Rebbe Eliezer 5b), that “before the world was created, there was only G-d and His Great Name.”