What’s in a Name?

A message from Bishop Desmond Inglesby

A person is identified by their name. In one sense your name separates you from other people. It would be difficult to be in room full of people all with the same name. Although we might not own the name exclusively, our name makes us unique.

Names are important in the Bible. Jacob means ‘supplanted’; Naomi means ‘delightful one’; Samuel means ‘heard of God’; Barnabas means ‘son of encouragement’. Nowhere is a name more important than when it comes to the person of Jesus Christ. Joseph was told “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 1:21 NIV)

700 years earlier, Isaiah prophesied “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

The child that is born and the son that is given is the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. The name given to Him describes the kind of person He will be. They describe His character and mission. A Hebrew name not only described the person, but also predicted what his or her life would be like.

He will be called Wonderful – the word means “a marvel”, that is, more amazing than any other person or gift that God has ever given. He is unlike any other person. He is God’s unique gift to our world.

Counsellor because He will be the embodiment of all wisdom. ” …….  that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.(Colossians 2:3 NIV) Christ is in every respect the personification of all wisdom and therefore the ideal and perfect teacher.

Mighty God because He will be endowed with divine strength and power. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9 NIV)

“Everlasting Father” or ‘the father of eternity’. It is Christ who bestows immortality on us. He brings the gift of eternal life – an endless succession of ages and perpetual duration. Jesus said “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life”. (John 5:24 NIV)

“Prince of peace” – Jesus said ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’. (John 14:27 NIV) Christ brings full and perfect happiness. Of all the blessings in life, nothing is greater nor more desirable than peace. Through Christ we have peace with God. It is this peace that rules in our hearts through times of hardship and tribulation. Without Christ, there is no peace.

In the Old Testament children were often given a name for a specific reason. Parents gave children names that described their hopes and future expectations regarding that child. A name stood for a person’s reputation, their fame and their glory.

Jesus lives up to His predicted name. Notice the verse uses the singular ‘name’ and not ‘names’. Jesus is all these things, all the time.

So what’s in a name?  Everything about Jesus is bound up in His name!  His name is everything.

In His name we find hope.

In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21 NIV)

In His name we find help.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8 NIV)

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

In His name we find salvation. 

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:21 NIV)

As we celebrate Christmas let us remember God’s greatest gift to us is His Son Jesus Christ. Have you received Him and trusted in His name. It is the name at which, one day in the future, every knee shall bow.

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).