What’s in a Name
Selected Scriptures from Mt. 1-2; Luke 1-2
December 22, 2013
When Raye Jeanne was pregnant with the girls, we spent many hours reading names back and forth to one another, trying to come up with something that we thought sounded right and would be fitting for our unknown child.
At the same time, there were people who were wanting to know what we were going to call the children, and we just didn’t want to get into the debates — “Oh, you can’t call her that, I once knew a ____ and she was just horrible…” So how do you handle that? I’m not sure that this was a sanctified response, but we gave the girls interim names. Whenever we referred to her, Elizabeth was “Cosmo” (though if she was a girl, we said we would name her “Cosmena”). And boy or girl, Emily, we said, was Balfour Trafalgor. In particular, Raye Jeanne’s father was quite worried about the whole prospect of Cosmo. (I guess we said what we did with a fairly straight face.)
Of course we couldn’t actually name our girls that way, because names are important. A name conjures up images of what a person is like. A name often reveals family history and family priorities and purposes. That is even more true about names in the Bible. And nowhere was that more true than with the names and titles of Jesus at His advent.
Biblically, identity is revealed in a name. So when God names something, He is revealing its nature and character. So when He reveals Himself, He is Yahweh, the eternally self-existent One, and He is Lord, the Master and Sovereign. And when He names Satan “the devil,” He is telling us that Satan is slanderous and a liar.
In a similar way, the names God used for His Son at His birth reveal both the identity of Christ and His purpose in coming. We read the stories of the birth of Christ and we skim over the identifiers about Christ, but the large number of names used to reveal Christ is significant — they reveal what God thinks about Him and also reveal His nature and His purpose. Consider some of the names and titles the Gospel accounts used when Jesus was born:
- The Most High
- Son of the Most High
- Holy Child
- Son of God
- Christ, the Lord
- The Lord’s Christ
- Jesus Christ
- Son of David
- Son of Abraham
- King of the Jews
This morning, I want to examine some of these names with you as a reminder of the character of the One we worship.