I love it when people use my name. “It was really nice to meet you Christina.” “Thanks Christina.” “Christina, where are my shoes? Give them back.”
There’s something so affirming and personal about it. My name represents me – who I am. When someone says my name, I know I’m not just another face passing by. I matter.
I got to thinking about the name of our Savior – Jesus. At Christmas time we hear the Gospel story of the angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. Let’s recap for a minute what’s going on here. Mary’s pregnant; Joseph’s shocked. He’s going to divorce her because he still loves her, and doesn’t want her to be stoned. Joseph goes to sleep. An angel appears to him and says, “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Can you imagine his excitement, running to Mary and telling her, “It’s okay, I understand now . . . you’re carrying the Messiah and I know what we should name him!”
But Mary interrupts him. “Yeah, I know . . . Jesus,” she says. The angel Gabriel had said to her “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31) Our God taking on a human name meant that He was taking on a human nature, along with His Divine nature. Isn’t that amazing?
In the Old Testament, God revealed his name as simply, “I AM” or “Yahweh.” His name was so holy and unapproachable that the Israelites didn’t even say it out loud, and when they wrote it, they abbreviated it. (HP fan reference: It’s like he-who-must-not-be-named but in a good and holy way!)
But Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10-11: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
At the birth of Jesus, God became approachable and relatable.
What could be less intimidating than a little baby? His name not only brought peace to Joseph and Mary, but to the entire world. The reality of his person, represented by his name, has the power to bring peace into your heart and life too.
You know that famous line from Romeo and Juliet? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While this may be true for a mere flower, it isn’t for Jesus. His name is the holiest of all names. It just wouldn’t be the same if Jesus’ name had been Brad.
What we’re celebrating this season is that our God took a name – one that means, “God saves.” Approach Him today. Thank Him. And use His name while you’re at it: not in blasphemy, but in reverence. He didn’t have to become a man . . . but He did. And you know why? Because He loves us.