I’ve always been drawn to the stories behind people’s names. Whether it’s a familial story, or they were named after a song, a book character, etc., or their parents named them a certain name to call out a specific quality in them, I’m obsessed with the meanings of names. My daughter’s name is Myla which means merciful and her middle name is Sage which means wise. We loved her name because it’s pretty, but more than that, we named her that because my prayer for her life is that the truth she speaks would not only be filled with wisdom, but also filled with love and mercy. My son’s name is Nathan. We decided to name him that because we love the story of the prophet Nathan and how he spoke into King David’s life in the Bible, but his name also means gift. And, oh what a gift he is to us. He came into our lives during a time full of grief and pain, and his entrance into our life was definitely a gift from God. He completed our family in the most perfect way.
When Jesus entered the world, his name wasn’t hugely significant. It was actually quite a common Jewish name at the time. People surrounding his parents probably weren’t astonished as much by his actual name, but at Joseph’s decision to call his newborn son a name that had no connection to their family lineage. While a common name, it most definitely seemed random. But, of course, Joseph named Jesus out of obedience to God. The angel of the Lord told him to name the baby boy Jesus (meaning to deliver or rescue), and he did as he was told. While the name Jesus was a common one, all the other names given to Jesus by others and even himself throughout Scripture round out all His name encompasses making it the Name above all names.
This Advent season my prayer is that I would be able to more fully grasp a tiny bit the immensity of the names of Jesus. On Woven, we’ll be spending 6 weeks exploring some of the names Jesus is called in the Bible. Last week, we discussed what it means that Jesus is called the Word and the Truth. John’s Gospel tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-3)
In the very beginning, before earth even existed, Jesus was with God. John says that the Word (Jesus) was with God and even that he (the Word) was God. He was with God when our world was created by our Father. Not only was he there, John says he was the Word that God used to speak creation into being. Paul explains this phenomenon even further in Colossians 1. He says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
God, the Father, spoke all that we know and experience into existence through the Word which is Jesus. They were also all created for him, the King of Kings. And, the Word not only creates, it holds all things together.
Practically speaking, what does all this mean to us? Jesus, the Word of God, can also call new things into existence in you and for you. When we abide in him, He calls out the truth in us and breathes new, extraordinary life into us in the midst of our ordinary, everyday. Our Father also holds all things in our lives together by Jesus, the Living Word. No matter the fires, the pain, the dark roads of life, the Word speaks light into the darkness, and he holds all things together when it seems to all be falling apart.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.“ (John 1:14, 16-18)