“WHAT'S IN A NAME?”
Text: Luke 2:21– Circumcision of Our Lord
Sunday January 1st, 2023
Trinity – Creston/Mt. Ayr
Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Our text for this Circumcision of our Lord is the Gospel lesson – Luke 2:21 that was just proclaimed.
Let Us Pray: Dearest Jesus, send your Holy Spirit to remind us that you gave us your name in Holy Baptism connecting us to your saving work. May the use of your precious name point others to your saving work. Amen.
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:
What’s in a name? What do people think of or assume once they know the name of a person?
Who would you rather be, John Wayne or Marion Morrison? Marilyn Monroe or Norma Jean Baker? How about Hulk Hogan or Terry Bollea?
Now for the most part names are just supposed to be labels that help us identify someone. Names are supposed to be neutral. Never the less, a person’s name often influence’s our attitude toward that person – our minds’ image of that person.
It is parents’ responsibility to name their children. Most parents don’t want to saddle their children with a lot of psychological baggage when they give them a name. They don’t want the name to be so unique that it is bizarre.
On the other hand, maybe they go a little too far wanting the name to be special. For example, someone whose last name is “Bar” maybe does not want to name his children Candy and Clark. If you have the last name, Cross, you probably wan to avoid the name, Chris.
I heard of a couple who are big Iowa Hawkeye fans that named their twin boys Kinnick and Carver. Generally speaking though, most parents want their children to have names they can live with for the rest of their lives.
Although naming someone in our culture today is still important, our names don’t have near the significance they have in other cultures and at other times.
Although there are some important exceptions, most of the names we hear in today’s culture are fairly neutral. When we read or hear someone’s name, we generally don’t know a whole lot about them until we meet them and interact with them a little bit.
Mary and Joseph didn’t have such issues with Jesus. God was in charge of naming Mary’s first born. When Gabriel appeared to Mary He [Luke 1:30–31] said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
An angel also appeared to Joseph [Matthew 1:20–21] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
God sent angels to both Mary and Joseph. They had no choice. God told them to name the child Jesus.
It was the tradition in those days and in that culture to name a son on the day of circumcision. God gave circumcision as a sign to Abraham that every male shall be circumcised on the eighth day. [Genesis 17:12-13] 12
He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised.
We have now entered the eighth day of Christmas – the day of circumcision and naming for our Lord and savior. Since Jesus was born on December 25, then today would be the anniversary of His name.
As we might expect, the name of Jesus has a very special meaning, but to get to that meaning we need to drill down from our English Jesus through the Greek and into the Aramaic or Hebrew. Then we find the name Yeshua.
Yeshua is a combination of the Name of God, Yahweh, and the verb “to save.” Jesus, in the original language means Yahweh saves. Jesus’ name and His mission were one and the same. As Gabriel said, “He will save his people from their sins.”
Jesus’ name is more than just a label. Jesus is God and God’s name is more than just an abstract representation of God. The name of God is genuinely the presence and power of God in all its fullness. That is why his name is to be hallowed, to be treated with great care for its holiness.
It is the name of the Lord that Holy Scripture tells us is to be praised, rejoiced in, feared, ascribed glory, trusted in, called upon, and exalted. This could only be true if the name of God is fully and truly an expression of God himself.
So important is God’s name and the need to keep it holy that it ranks second in all the Commandments, ahead even of keeping the Sabbath, ahead of respecting those in authority, ahead of murdering, committing adultery, stealing, lying, or being envious of others.
Hallowed be Thy name is the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer. It should be obvious that God’s name is holy, but we sometimes forget that. So we pray that God would keep us mindful of the holy nature of His name.
But do we? O we are all pretty aware of that string of words that escapes our lips from time-to-time. It is easy to come to God and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake when we mess up that way.
What about the not so obvious ways we profane God’s name? Those of us who do a lot of text messaging – what does O-M-G stand for? Do we always use those initials in a God pleasing way?
What would happen if God acted every time we used His name? What if He did exactly what we told Him to do? How many screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, and other innocent household tools would be roasting away in hell right now?
How many red traffic lights would be in hell? How many fellow drivers who cut us off in traffic would now be in eternal torment?
Perhaps there are some of us who have better control of our tongues. What about our other behaviors? The world knows that we are baptized children of God. He has put His name on us in baptism.
Are we always honest in our business dealings? Do we keep our promises? Do we protect that reputation of others from gossip and rumors? Do we always bring honor to the name we bear through baptism?
It is for this very reason that we need another name, the name that is above every name: Yahweh Saves, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus the Anointed One. He whose names we heard prophesied by Isaiah, [Isaiah 9:6] “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
In coming weeks and months, we will hear his name called in many other ways: the Lamb of God, the Son of Man, the Redeemer of Israel.
Ultimately, Jesus would live up to His name by being Yahweh’s salvation as He died for our sins on the cross. His holy, precious blood and his innocent suffering and death paid for our sins and rescued us from the power of sin death, and the devil.
God even worked through Pontius Pilate to tell us the name of our savior. When Pilate ordered Jesus’ crucifixion he [John 19:19-20] also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. Jesus lived up to His name with His death on the cross.
Because Jesus has lived up to his name, God has raised Him up from the dead. [Philippians 2:9-11] God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Baptism joins us to Jesus and places God’s name on us. Because the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is written on us, our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
And because they are written there, we will not be thrown into the lake of fire. Because our names are written there, we are made pure and will enter with the heavenly throng into that city of light and life. The Shepherd calls us each by name, and his sheep follow him.
Children of God:
What’s in a name, then? I
f the name is Jesus, then there is power, love, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. In the name of Jesus, our name is written in the book of life.
What’s in a name? As we remember the circumcision and naming of Jesus, we remember that this is the name that gives us life.
Because of our baptism into Christ (Romans 6), Jesus name is written on our hearts. Amen
Now May the Peace of God which passes all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.