Sermons

Summary: The names of Jesus assure us that God saves us and is with us.

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Title: What Is In a Name?

Text: Matthew 1:18-25

Thesis: The names of Jesus assure us that God saves us and is with us.

Introduction

When I was a kid, some brave souls dared to call me Sir Isaac or Fig, which I did not appreciate. In our first church, an elderly German lady could never remember my name so she just called me, Pastor Cookie.

My first name is Monty. The Dictionary of First Names, Oxford University Press says that Monty is the short form of Montague or Montgomery, which have gone through the cycle of transformation from French place name, to Norman baronial name, to noble British surname, to modern given name. The full forms of these names are now rare. The name Monty means “of the mountain.” I remember doing a name search a few years ago which appropriately stated the meaning of Monty is “small mountain.”

Newton is an English habitational name from the Old English, which means “new” and “tun” which means enclosure or settlement. It is said to be the most common of English place names because new settlements were often called Newton (or as we might say, Newtown). (Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press)

Earlier this year, Dr. Kelsie Harder died. He was a student of names and their origins. His interest in names was inspired by his own given name. His older sister was named Elsie and when he was born, his parents wanted to give him an unusual name, so they just added a “K” to Elsie and he was dubbed, Kelsie. He was teased a great deal as a boy who had, what many believed to be, a girl’s name. In the books he authored on baby names, “he encouraged parents to give their children names that did not set them up for problems.” (Homiletics, December 2007, PP. 62-63)

In our story today, Joseph had a dream and in his dream an angel of the Lord encouraged him to go ahead and marry Mary and then to name their son, Jesus.

• “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus…” Matthew 1:21

The angel went on to quote from Isaiah 7, which speaks prophetically of the birth of the Christ saying,

• “a virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel which means, God is with us.” Isaiah 7:14

The names “Jesus” and “Immanuel” did indeed ”set him up” or define who Jesus was and what he did… and does.

One of the things parents do, is name their children.

1. Parents name their children.

And she will have a son, and you are to name him… Matthew 1:21

Kelsey Harder said in an interview, “We are at the mercy of our name givers. These things influence us for the rest of our lives, and we have nothing to do with it.” (Douglas Martin, The New York Times, April 22, 2007)

I don’t know how you went about naming your children. Perhaps you chose an old family name. One of our grandsons is named Newton. Newton being our daughter’s maiden name. One of our grand daughters is named Morgan. Morgan is a maiden name from her father’s side of the family. Another grand daughter is named Lorraine… Lorraine is the given name of her great grandmother and her mother. For some reason our children have been reluctant to name their children after my grandmother who was named Goldie Fern.

The most popular name given to boys in 2006 was Jacob and the most popular name given girls was Emily. I checked to see where my name ranked and discovered that Monty is not ranked in the top 1,000 most popular names in any year for the last fifteen years. What was my mother thinking?

On a web site where prospective parents post the names they are considering for their children in order to get some online feed back, one family chose to name her children after cities: Denver, Carson, and Cody. Another wanted to honor Native Americans so he wanted to name his kiddo Lakota Sioux. Others were out there with names like Paris Jewel, Wild Flower, Legend Derry, and Ocean Blue.

Parents agonize over the names they are considering for their children. The name needs to mean something and be unique or unusual. So they tweak spellings and bend pronunciations for effect. Names are important and we want them to mean something.

One day Jesus asked his disciple, Simon, Who do you say I am?” And Simon answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon, son of John… Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the power of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:15-18

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