Summary: This morning we’re going to zero in on four names, given to Jesus, 700 years before He was even born!
Do you know what an aptronym is? It’s a compound word consisting of the adjective “apt” meaning aptitude and the Greek word for “name.” An aptronym is when someone’s name and occupation line up perfectly, when what they’re called describes what they do. Here are some examples:
* Dr. Bowser Veterinarian
* Roy Grout Bricklayer
* Dr. Whack Chiropractor
* Dan Druff Barber
* Dr. Pullen Dentist
* Otto Nogo Mechanic
* Dr. Smiley Orthodontist
* Sonia Shears Hairdresser
* Dr. Whitehead Dermatologist
* Dr. Smellsey Podiatrist
Have you ever stopped to realize how important names are to God? Right from the very beginning of the Bible we read: “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night’…God called the expanse ‘sky’…God called the dry ground ‘land.’”(Genesis 1:5, 8, 10). He also gave names to different people, with the meaning of the name often characterizing their character. Isaac implies “laughter.” The definition of Jacob is “deceiver.” Moses means “drawn out.” And Jesus means, “Jehovah saves.”
Many parents spend significant time trying to decide what to name their children. Why is that? Because we know that a name is more than just what someone goes by. Some of us are very strategic and specific when it comes to the giving of names. I have some relatives who obviously spent some time determining what to call their kids. This did not happen by accident. 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 bunny named Bertha (OK, I made that last one up!).
This morning we’re going to zero in on four names, given to Jesus, 700 years before He was even born! There are over 100 names in the Bible associated with Jesus and numerous others that are given to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. It has been said that “Every name He bears is a blessing He shares.” Our next sermon series will be called, “What God Goes By” as we study ten of God’s names in great detail. Why does God have so many names? Missionary E.A. Ruskin was once asked this very question by the people of Congo (now Zaire). This is how he answered their inquiry: “The beauty and the fullness and the magnificence of His matchless person cannot be expressed by just one name” (From a sermon by Hans Nicoley). Each name unlocks an aspect of His attributes and a portion of His personality.
Please turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 9:6-7 so that we can focus on four names of the Nativity, complete with four astonishing adjectives to help us get a better picture of the matchless Messiah born in a manger 2,000 years ago: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Several times this week I listened to Handel’s Messiah and was moved to tears by the beauty and majesty of the song, “For unto Us a Child Is Born” that is based on this passage. I encourage you to get a hold of this and allow these words to penetrate your soul this Christmas season.
From Gloom to Gladness
Let’s quickly set the context. This original birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom. Look at verse 1: “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.” 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. We learned two weeks ago that the Genealogy of Jesus proves He is the Messiah; this verse teaches that Geography is also important because Jesus will bring joy to Galilee when He takes up residence there.
Don’t miss this about Christmas. Christmas was, and is, birthed in the middle of great grief. While the angels were proclaiming “peace on earth,” Herod was preparing to annihilate infants; while Mary was worshipping, other mothers were weeping for their children (see Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18). Friends, Christmas joy is best understood when the junk of life is all around us; gladness comes when we’re grieving. Is that where you’re at today? That’s OK if you are.