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.


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.

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