What’s In A Name?

“But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: ’Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they shall name Him Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:20-23 (NASB)

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 (NASB)

When I was born, my parents wanted me to be a girl.

They already had a boy 3 years earlier, and my mother had a difficult pregnancy and delivery with my older brother. In fact, the doctor advised my mother not to have another child. However, such was my mother’s longing for a daughter, she got pregnant and had me instead.

My parents did not have names for a boy and so my dad suggested they name me after his father. How thankful I was that my mother won the argument and gave me the good Scottish given names Gordon Bruce to please her father Robert Marshall—of Scottish ancestry.

Maybe, in the 1870’s when my paternal grandfather was born, naming a boy Percival Bamlet was acceptable, but in 1942—when I was born—it was not popular!

Names we give our children can be very meaningful at times. Certainly in our Lord’s day, Hebrew people saw names as highly meaningful. Hence, we read of Joseph naming the child Jesus—for a very profound reason.

The child Mary was carrying would “…save His people from their sins”. But the name Jesus means Jehovah saves. So, Who is the Saviour? Jesus or Jehovah? Only one explanation will do. The child Joseph would help Mary raise was truly Jehovah in human form.

Then the angel told Joseph that Mary would call the Child “Immanuel”, which means “God with us”. So both parents of Jesus—His legal father Joseph and His birth mother Mary—gave Him names that declare the child Jehovah.

What’s in a name? It could be nothing or it could be everything. In the case of Jesus, His names mean everything. But what—I ask—do the names that Jesus bears mean to you? Do you bow before Him this holy season and joyfully declare with the apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God”? If you do you are truly a child of God.

If you have not called Jesus your Lord and your God, some day you will. Every knee shall bow and confess Jesus as Lord (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). But in that great day your confession of Jesus as Lord will not confer eternal life. That truth which you denied in life will condemn you to eternal death. Will you confess Him now? If not, why not?

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.

Let every tongue and every tribe
responsive to his call,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.

Oh, that with all the sacred throng
we at his feet may fall!
We'll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.

- Edward Perronet

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