Summary: Jesus is indescribably unique.
Hope Has a Name
Rev. Brian Bill
December 14-15, 2019
Names and descriptions tell us something, don’t they?
As we all waited in anticipation for our facility to be finished, I was eager to try a decaf cappuccino from the Edge Café. After our team time one Tuesday afternoon, Pastor Kyle showed the staff how to use the coffee machine. About an hour later I went behind the counter, scrolled through the touch screen and made my selection. I took my cup of froth to the Fireside Room, turned the fireplace on and went to work on my sermon. The cappuccino was so delicious I decided to have two cups. I noticed I was unusually alert for it being so late in the afternoon.
When I got home, I had so much energy it was hard to sit still. After crawling into bed, I flopped around like a door on its hinge, so decided to just get up. I pulled out my notes and worked on my sermon again, not really sure why I couldn’t get to sleep. At 1:00 am I finally felt tired and went back to bed.
The next day I overheard Kyle tell someone the decaf wasn’t in yet, so all the coffees had caffeine in them (this has been fixed, BTW). I told him what had happened to me and he immediately apologized but also started laughing really hard. I told him an apology accompanied by a guffaw didn’t count. He just laughed some more.
Have you ever been tricked when the nature of something didn’t line up with its name? Names are important, aren’t they?
Most parents spend significant amount of time trying to decide what to name their children. Why is that? Because we know a name is more than just what someone goes by. Some of us are very strategic and specific when it comes to choosing names. I have some relatives who obviously spent some time determining what to call their kids. Here are the names of everyone in their family, starting with the parents (and I’m not making this up): Bob Bill, Bonnie Bill, Bernie Bill, Brenda Bill, Bruce Bill, and Blain Bill…and their baby bunny named Bertha (OK, I made that last one up!).
In Old Testament times, a name stood for a person’s “reputation, their fame and their glory.” The word translated “name” literally means “a mark or a brand.” Parents often gave children names to describe their hopes and future expectations regarding that child.
A study of Bible names reveals much about the personality of the person bearing that name. For instance, David means “Beloved.” Abraham is “Father of a multitude.” Jacob is “Deceiver.” Isaac implies “laughter.” Moses means “drawn out.” And Jesus is “Jehovah saves.” All of these people proved true to their names!
Today we’re going to zero in on a four-fold name given to Jesus, 700 years before He was even born! We’re going to see that Jesus is indescribably unique.
From Gloom to Gladness
Isaiah’s primary purpose was to remind his readers of the special relationship they had with God as His covenant community. The nation had experienced prosperity but now Assyria was poised to pounce on them. In the midst of this impending threat, Isaiah gives a number of glorious promises.
Grab your Bibles and turn to the opening verses of Isaiah 9. We focused on this last weekend when we learned that Jesus lights the way for those living in darkness. This original birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom. Look at verse 1: “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”
Zebulun and Naphtali are tribes from the north of Israel, making up the land of Galilee. For many years the people knew only grief because of the onslaught of enemies unleashed by the Almighty as a result of their sins. Isaiah tells of a time in the future where gloom will be replaced with gladness in Galilee.
Verse 2 describes how the birth of Christ will bring brightness to a world of despair and darkness: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
In reflecting on this truth last weekend, Mike Russell mentioned that when people are in the dark, they can’t see and end up stumbling through life with no sense of direction. In order to help those dwelling in the dark, those of us who are Christians must make sure we’re giving off a pleasing aroma. Someone might not be able to see but they can smell the fragrance of Christ coming from those who follow Him as 2 Corinthians 2:15 says: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”