Summary: Characteristics of Jesus that we can associate with His name.
AT (@) THE NAME OF JESUS
We can only imagine how carefully God chose those who would be the earthly parents of His son…the ones who would do for this most holy child what all parents do for their children: feed them, clothe them, protect them. Yet one of the most common responsibilities of parenting God did NOT assign to them: they did not name their child. On separate occasions the angels said to Mary and Joseph that heaven had determined the name of the Messiah:
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21
One of the important decisions that is made for us is our name. Expectant parents will wrestle with that identifying title which probably will designate their child for the rest of his or her lives.
It is interesting to watch how names fluctuate in popularity. According to the Social Security Administration, some of the most popular names today are Jacob, Ethan, and Michael for boys and Isabella, Sophia, and Emma for girls. While the boys have stayed more consistent, girl’s names are more fluid. Ten years ago the most popular girl’s names were Emily, Hannah, and Madison. Of course some prefer to give their child a unique name like Garrick, Princeton, Jazz, Calico.
But the most creative parents I know about was from several years a Chinese couple attempted to name their baby “@.” That’s right. The kid’s name was the symbol @. But when you think about it, it was a brilliant name on many levels. Every time we sent an email we would pay homage to their baby. And given that texting has brought us to reduce lots of words to symbols, maybe this is just the beginning.
A child from an unexpected pregnancy could be named “!”
An expensive child could be named “$” or if it is a girl “$$”
The second-born child of twins could be “&”
Imagine a child so frustrating, the parents name him %
But we are not here to talk about abbreviated texting, but rather the Biblical text, specifically Philippians 2 where Paul declares:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11
If we back up several verses, it tells us some things that we find @ the name of Jesus
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God Philippians 2:5-6
Here is something unique that separates Jesus from all others: in the form of God…equal with God. You can say that of no other baby. History records names of great people of government, athletics, entertainment, business, religion, etc. But NONE achieve this unique distinction. Jesus’ birth is so significant because there has never been any birth like His.
Recently I read about another challenge to a nativity scene displayed on a courthouse property. I certainly believe that religious speech should have the same rights as all other expressions. Still, it concerns me that the legal justification for the nativity’s presence is that it is only a part of an entire seasonal display. But when we put the story of Jesus on par with Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph, we drain it of its uniqueness, because it is not the same. It is the story of our hope. A beautiful but rarely sung Christmas song says The great creator became my Savior. And all God’s fullness dwelleth in Him
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Philippians 2:6-7
He became “like” us even in name: The name Jesus was a common name. The equivalent to the name Joshua. There were at least four people in the Old Testament who shared this name: Joshua, Son of Nun, successor of Moses, Joshua the high priest, Zechariah 6:9-14, An owner of a field, A governor of Jerusalem in the time of Josiah
In political campaigns it is asked of the candidates, Can he/she identify with the common, average person? In countries with royalty, those outside the royal circle are sometimes referred to as commoners. In Jesus heaven’s royalty became a commoner. Great God Almighty became a human. Theologically we call this the incarnation and it is one of the most amazing concepts to try to understand. But perhaps a familiar story will help.