“If I’d known what my children would be like once they were grown, I could’ve chosen more appropriate names for them,” she said.
Although that’s true, none of us have that kind of foreknowledge, do we? Thus, we simply choose a name we like or one that’s been in the family for generations or one that’s the same as someone we admire. Sometimes we create a new one.
However, some parents mentioned in the Bible were told. For example, an angel appeared to aged Zacharias to tell him he and his wife Elizabeth would have a baby and that they were to name him John. (That name means “Jehovah [God] has been gracious, has shown favor.”)
An angel also appeared to Mary, a young virgin, and said to her, “…you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.” (A name derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means “to deliver, to rescue.”)
Jesus’ life matched the meaning of His name. He did deliver us from our sins and rescue us from being cast into Hell, forever separated from the One who loves us more than we can conceive.
He also lived up to another name given to Him centuries before His birth: Immanuel. That name, which means “God with us,” refers to not only His deity (God) but also His identification with and His nearness to mankind.
As Henry Barraclough’s beautiful hymn (1915) says:
Out of the ivory palaces
Into a world of woe
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.
He came down to us in order to provide the way for us to go up to live with Him throughout all eternity. In the meantime, we who know Him can come to Him with our praises, with our gratitude, with our confessions of sins, with our pleas for help, with our brokenness, with our….
Because God the Father knew exactly what His Son would be and do, every name He chose for Him is appropriate, each one describing who He was and is and forever will be.
Oh, blessed be every name given to our wonderful Savior and Lord!
Note: A longer version of this was published in the Chapel Hill News and Views magazine in December 2019.