Summary: Names meant something in the Bible.What’s in the name of Jesus? There is Salvation, Preservation and Glorification in the name of Jesus.
What’s In A Name?
There is one thing in our lives over which we have little control--our names. We were given names by our parents before we even knew who we were. Some of us were named for our parents as in the case of a boy who is named for his father and must go through life carrying the ascription Junior behind his name. This can create all kinds of psychological problems for the boy in his attempt to live up to the name of his father or in some sad cases to live down the name. Some of us were named for a Bible character, or a movie or television personality.
What does your name mean? What’s in your name? I dare say that most of us don’t even know what our names mean. You might want to do some research to discover what your name really means. But the Hebrews of the Bible always named their children for a particular purpose or meaning. The Jews were very careful in choosing a name for a baby. They gave it much thought. They chose a name for a baby usually for its meaning in God--to acknowledge his gift or to express some hope or aspiration in Him. The name always meant something, and they were aware of its significance for each particular child.
But in today’s text in the first chapter of Matthew we find the story of how God himself named a child. God could not leave the naming of this child to the whims of human understanding. This child was so unique, his mission so compelling, his birth so unusual, his gifts so amazing, and his wisdom so profound, that God himself had to name the child. For His name would have special meaning and significance for generations yet unborn. So God dispatched an angel in a dream to a man named Joseph to explain to him certain marvelous truths. Joseph was betrothed to a young girl named Mary.
So the angel appeared and had a little talk with Joseph. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary for your wife because it is not as it appears to be. This baby in her womb has been conceived by the Holy spirit. Mary has not been unfaithful to you. But God has blessed her exceedingly abundantly above all she could ever ask or think. God has blessed the fruit of her womb. She will give birth to a son. But this is no ordinary child. This child is something special. He will have to be given a special name. When Mary gives birth to this Son, God wants you to call him Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
In a mysterious and unique way God had decided to come and be with his people for a while. God had chosen to reveal himself to humankind in a way undreamed of by saints and sages of all the ages. In fact, God had to give himself a name for his coming in human flesh. God had always had this habit of revealing Himself to His people in the midst of their cry for deliverance and liberation.
When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He told him to tell the people that He had heard their cry for deliverance from the heels of the Egyptian oppressors. Moses said, “But what shall I tell them?. What shall I tell them if they ask me what your name is?” God said, “Tell them I am who I am. Tell them that I am God almighty forever and forever. I am who I am, I am Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth.”
Back in the book of Isaiah in our Old Testament text, King Ahaz, the king of Judah was troubled with enemies surrounding his country. Isaiah told him not to worry, but to depend on God. God would be with him, and as a sign of this, a young woman would bear a son and call his name Immanuel, meaning God with us. Before that child had been weaned, God would deliver Ahaz from his enemies. God would be with him.
The angel uses this story saying that this is now being fulfilled in a new and marvelous way. The child that Mary shall bear is the sign that God has come to tabernacle with humankind. God is with us in a way that had never been experienced before. It wasn’t anything new for God to reveal himself to His people. Every now and then God would stop by in a strange and mysterious way to show his people that he was still with them, to show them that he would fight their battles, to show them that he was still on their side, to show them that he was still a way maker and burden bearer.