Summary: Inductive sermon speaking about names, possible names for Jesus' followers, and then settling on "Christian" and its meaning for believers.


Acts 11:19-26


Today we will be talking a lot about names. As you came in, you received a nametag. Hopefully it is a nametag with your name on it. If you have someone else’s nametag, just pretend to be them while you are here today. As I said, today, we will be talking a lot about names. Hopefully everyone here knows theirs, if not, help will be provided after church for you. One of the neatest things to look up about names is the popular names and what people are naming their children. Sometimes people name their children with unique names and sometimes with popular names. I know when Kelly and I were naming kids we looked up what names were popular and what trends were happening with names.


The Social Security Administration keeps records of what children are named each year and publishes those lists for us to consult when naming a child. I looked up some neat facts:

2009 Jacob, Ethan, Michael

2009 Isabella, Emma, Olivia

1990s Michael, Christopher, Matthew

1990s Jessica, Ashley, Emily

1910-2009 James, John, Robert

1910-2009 Mary, Patricia, Jennifer

Florida 2009 Jayden, Michael, Joshua

Florida 2009 Isabella, Sophia, Emma


When it came time to name my children, we had a specific plan that we were going to stick to. A person is generally stuck with their name their whole life unless you get married or enter the witness protection program or are a famous athlete, so naming a child is an important responsibility for a parent. Our plan was to have meaningful Biblical first names and family middle names.

We first had Abigail Jo. Abigail is a godly woman from 1 Samuel 25 and her name means “My father’s joy.” Jo is Kelly’s middle name and the name of her maternal grandmother. We then had Nathanael Marc. Nathanael is one of the disciples of Jesus about whom Jesus said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false” (John 1:47) and the name means “Gift of God.” Marc is my middle name as well as my dad’s name. Then we had Ian Jeremiah and it gets all confusing. Here we flipped the Biblical and family names. Ian is an English form of John which is Kelly’s brother’s name as well as her maternal grandfather. Ian/John means “God is Gracious” and Jeremiah means “God has uplifted.” Jeremiah was a prophet of God in the Old Testament who followed God all the days of his life.

So you see, Kelly and I named our children with purpose and with meaning. You may have stories to tell of how you got your name or a nickname. Names are powerful. They identify for us who we are. I have found there is always a reason or a story behind why a person is named.

You know, those of us who follow Jesus have a particular name. As I began to think about that name, it occurred to me that…


Matthew 1:22-23 tells us, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."

Jesus had a very special and precious nickname that fit who Jesus was quite well. The name Emmanuel means “God with Us.” Why is this name significant? It is significant because it tells us that Jesus was God on Earth.

God was incarnate among us and God was living and breathing among His Creation.

God was reconciling everyone and fixing that which was broken since the Garden of Eden.

God was fulfilling old promises made to His prophets.

The verses in Matthew 1 and the name “Emmanuel” communicates to us that Jesus’ appearance was not some kind of accident, but that He came on purpose. Jesus was the plan all along. God had planned to come Himself and fix our brokenness and pay for the sins and you and I commit. I hope you realize that there is absolutely nothing anyone could have ever done to fix the human race’s issues with God. We are sinful and have gone our own way and have done this since the beginning. But Emmanuel was the plan.

It might be fitting that followers of Jesus would be called “Emmanuelans.” It would signify the promises of God that came true in Jesus and we worship a God who keeps His promises. It would signify that we follow a God who sacrificed Heaven for us. It would signify that we follow a God who lived a life as we have lived it and did so perfectly… that kind of God truly understands us. But, in the end, that is not what people who follow Jesus are called.

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