Deut. 26, Ps. 117, 118, Isa. 53, Matt. 1

What’s in a name?

I remember just before my two daughters were born, the arduous process of selecting just the right name for our unseen treasures. First, a list of names was created and thought was given to which sounded right. But, I recall one night having a dream… perhaps I was overthinking the name selection process. In the dream, I was asked what the baby’s name was, I couldn’t speak… and I remember having a handful of index cards intended to hold the names being considered, and when I offered the cards as possible options, each card was blank. It was then that I realized that this name selection process had a much deeper meaning… that perhaps we needed to consider something more than how the name sounded. After researching a number of names for their meaning, it became clear that there was a definite connection between the name given to a child and the destiny of that child. God’s Word speaks of the tremendous power of the tongue. As such, the choice of names for our children has the power to impact their journey in life more than we can imagine!

Names were especially important to the Israelites. Often times throughout the Bible, babies were named to symbolize events surrounding their birth or for prophetic reasons affecting a circle of influence wider than one family, even as great as an entire nation. While reviewing the passages for today’s posting, I found it interesting that Matthew began his Gospel with a long list of names leading up to Jesus’ birth. Going through the genealogy had me wanting to get past the long, unpronounceable names in order to get to what I thought was the real reason of Matthew 1. I learned that genealogy should not be scanned too casually as, in this case, it led to the crescendo in the announcement of our Savior’s birth and naming.

The genealogy in Matthew 1 reveals a very unique and important slice of history… many generations who waited for their Messiah to come. Finally, in one unassuming night in Bethlehem, our Savior was born. Of all the names God could have chosen, He selected one with exceptional meaning for His precious Son… Immanuel… God is with us! (Matthew 1:23) With the simple act of naming His Son, God sent a message to His people that he would be with them forever. Immanuel wasn’t just a name, but a promise, a hope, a fulfillment of prophecy, and the beginning of a legacy… the turning point of eternity.

Even in the midst of terrible tragedy revealed in Isaiah 53, the name of Jesus evoked great hope over death. The spikes that pierced His wrist left holes that He filled with the souls of those who accept His salvation. And in a beautiful twist of irony, those holes made it possible for Him to fill up our emptiness with His wholeness. We are all living in Immanuel’s legacy… today, many generations after Jesus received His name, God is still with us. Even the psalmist attests to this and praises God, calling upon us to give thanks to God for the grace and blessings bestowed on all of us… that there is a Redeemer that is with us always (Ps. 117, 118)!

So… what’s in a name? When it comes to Jesus’ name… everything!

Sweet Jesus… with the simple speaking of your name… thank you for being the hope of the world. May my life point others to its meaning for them… Amen!

P.S. What’s in a name in my world? My daughter Brianna’s name means strong… a name characterized with a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause. If any of you know my daughter, you know how true this is of her… incredibly strong willed; recently graduated and certified as a teacher, wanting to devote her life to teaching and inspiring elementary age children… what better calling than to positively influence the mind of a child. Julia, has a name characterized as youthful with a desire for order and physical creativity. Not sure I agree with the order characteristic, but her creative outlook on life helps to balance an otherwise overly analytical family!

Greg (gstefanelli)

From the archives. Originally posted June 21, 2013

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