As a parent there are some moments when you think, “wow, I am doing ok, my kids may not need counseling after all.” Just the other day, my middle daughter Kenzie, wanted to show me something that she had been working on. She was very proud of it. She was persistent too. “Daddy, you need to see this!” When I got to the dining area, she had a piece of notebook paper in which she had written down 37 names of Jesus. She had been on her own looking up the names of Jesus in her Bible.
It was a proud dad moment! Jennifer and I want our girls to grow up loving Scripture. We want them to grow up to know how to dig into God’s Word. We want them to go to the Word for answers, for encouragement, and to have their lives wrecked for God’s glory.
While Kenzie’s list of names isn’t exhaustive, it got me thinking…she’s on to something important. There is power in names. In the Bible, especially, names often reveal key things about a character, sort of setting the trajectory of their unfolding story and how it fits into God’s unfolding Story! Remember Abraham, his name means “father of many.” His new name reflects one of the central plot lines of Scripture. Isaac too, his name means, “he laughs,” and recalls God’s promise to aged Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son! Jacob’s name means, “heal grabber,” and for much of his life he was known for his deceit. One last example, before Benjamin got his name which means, “son of my right hand,” his dying mother named him, Ben-oni, or “son of my trouble.”
Some times names can be associate with the bad some one has done as well. How many girls growing up have had the name, Jezebel? Or Bathsheba? There are other names too that you don’t generally don’t hear very often either, “Adolph,” “Stalin.”
All of this brings us back to the most important name of all, “Jesus.” In Luke’s Gospel you are thirty-one verses into his account of what God is doing in and through Jesus before the name of Jesus is even mentioned. I like how Luke tells his story by starting with an aged priest named Zechariah from the line of Abijah and his barren wife Elizabeth also from the line of Aaron. If God can make the barren fruitful, and he has, can and will, think what he is about to do the announcement to a Jewess teenager named Mary:
“26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:26-33)
The name of this baby promised to Mary would be a name for all people (Luke 2:10). This name will be above all other names (Phil. 2:9-11). This name is the name of our salvation (Acts 4:12). What is this name? It is the name, Jesus, “the Lord saves.” As Luke’s gospel unfolds, we need to keep ears and eyes open for Jesus. He is everywhere in this story. And yet there are many in the story who miss what God is doing in and through Jesus. There are many who miss it still. May all we all slow down and re-capture the wonder of Jesus and what his arrival means for us, and for the world!