What’s in a Name?

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I’m big on names. 

In biblical culture, name often represented character. Think of how many times you speak a child’s name over them. How could that not influence a child? With that in mind, I chose the names of our children carefully: 

Benjamin (son of the right hand) Russell (his father’s name) 

Richard (ruler, leader, powerful) Seth (gift, anointed)

Faith (faith in God) Elyse (after my grandmother, means oath of God)

Lincoln Daniel (named for two men, Abraham Lincoln and the prophet Daniel, who stood their ground against terrible opposition)

Now, my kids do the choosing. As soon as I get the name of the newest family addition, I look up its meaning. Once found, I note it and pray for that grandchild accordingly. 

Joseph and Mary never rifled through a book of baby names. God’s favorite pick came through an angel: 

  • “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31
  • “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:20-21
  • “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.” Luke 2:21

Note both Joseph and Mary were given God’s chosen name for His son. 

The LORD saves. 

Yeshua.

Joshua.

Jesus.

Imagine the crowd of relatives gathered for the naming of the child. To them, the name was common, the yet unfulfilled hope of Messiah. For Joseph and Mary, it was pregnant with meaning. 

Every time Mary called Him for supper, each time Joseph asked Him for a tool, whenever His siblings teased Him, He heard His name—the LORD saves. His name called Him to His task. 

Today we call Him, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).”

What’s in a name? Everything. 

Workout for the Week: What’s in a Name?

Memory Verse: 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. Isaiah 9:6

Meditation Passage: Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38

Do it: What does your name mean?