Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

            My name is Adam and after doing a little bit of research, I found that my name means, “Mankind.” Pretty boring, unless you are talking about the wrestler. My wife Rebekah, on the other hand, her name means, “Bound, Trap, or Snare.” The name implies that she is so beautiful that she will be a snare or a trap for her man. Carrie’s name means “melody,” or “song.” Juliette’s name means “soft haired.” And finally, there’s Caleb. Caleb means, “faithful,” or “bold.” It comes from the Hebrew word for dog. Dogs are awesome now. They are part of or families, but back then they were scavengers. Whoever named the Biblical character Caleb was not doing him a favor. It’s almost like that song made famous by Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue.”
            What’s the name of that guy I talk about every week? That’s right Jesus. I talk about Him every week. God help me if I don’t. Jesus’ name is very important. There was an old woman who lived in Alaska. A missionary visited her and told her about Jesus when she was about 90. She was illiterate, but asked that man to teach her how to spell the name of Jesus. When he came back to visit her, she had written the name of Jesus on everything she owned—tabletops, countertops, oatmeal containers, scrap paper, everything. She couldn’t stop writing the name of Jesus.
            The Bible is pretty clear about its importance, too. In Acts 4:12 it says, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And later in Philippians 2:9-10 “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 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.
            So let us start with His name. Jesus Christ. Jesus is His first name. Christ is not His last name. And His middle initial is not “H.” Jesus’ earthly father was named Joseph. Both Jesus and Joseph’s name mean “God will help.” What a perfect name. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the fact that God, bankrupted heaven and took on flesh to save humanity from its sin. “God will help.” God did help.
            So if Jesus is His first name, what is “Christ”? Christ is His title. It’s like Pastor Brian. Brian is his name. Pastor is his title. Christ comes from the Greek work cristo, which means “anointed one.” Anointed means “dedicated to the service of God.” Generally, there would be a service or a ceremony where a priest would rub oil on a person’s forehead and dedicate them. Jesus—God will help, and Christ--He was dedicated to God’s service.
            When I was a kid, I would watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special, other school and church plays, and I would listen to preachers tell the Christmas story and they would always quote this prophetic verse from the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” I used to get so confused, why didn’t they name Jesus “Immanuel”? Just because He would be called Immanuel (which He was literally God with us) doesn’t mean He had to be named that. I’ve been called many things in my life, but that doesn’t mean that any of those should be my name. I’ve been called, “awesome,” “amazing,” “super cool,” but none of those are my name. The Dallas Cowboys, as much as I disagree with it are called what? “America’s Team.” Green Bay, Wisconsin is called “Title Town” but they haven’t officially changed the name, and most likely never will. There’s a difference between being named and being called.
            We could look a few chapters later in Isaiah to see a few more names that our Lord will be called. Isaiah 9:6-7, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; (What’s the difference between a Child and a Son? Child speaks of His humanity, Son speaks of His divinity) and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.” That’s the Jesus we can get with, right? Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, taking care of the government for us? We can move deeper into Isaiah and read all about how God would redeem His people and give us all kind of warm feelings inside, but lets talk about something that doesn’t give us warm feelings. Let’s read a passage that the High Priests in Jewish synagogues have removed from their yearly calendar for readings. The reason they removed it from their reading schedule is because it obviously pointed to one person, and they didn’t want to deal with that reality. In fact, there was a young Jewish man that talked his father into letting him attend a Christian college. Part of his required classes was to take Biblical classes. He was required to read Isaiah. When he read Isaiah 53, he was sure that the Christians wrote their own version of that passage, and went and looked it up in his Jewish version of the Old Testament. It was exactly the same. He then had to come to a decision. Would he ignore what he found? Or would he embrace it? He had to embrace it. That young man is Jay Sekulow, founder of American Center for Law and Justice, one of the principle opponents to the ACLU.
Let’s look at Is 52:14, “Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage (appearance) was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Isaiah 53
Who has believed our report?
      And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
       2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
      And as a root out of dry ground.
      He has no form or comeliness;
      And when we see Him,
      There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
       3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
       4 Surely He has borne our griefs
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.
       5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.
       6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
      We have turned, every one, to his own way;
      And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
       7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
      Yet He opened not His mouth;
      He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
      And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
      So He opened not His mouth.
       8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
      And who will declare His generation?
      For He was cut off from the land of the living;
      For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
       9 And they[a] made His grave with the wicked—
      But with the rich at His death,
      Because He had done no violence,
      Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
       10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
      He has put Him to grief.
      When You make His soul an offering for sin,
      He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
      And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
       11 He shall see the labor of His soul,[b]and be satisfied.
      By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
      For He shall bear their iniquities.
       12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
      And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
      Because He poured out His soul unto death,
      And He was numbered with the transgressors,
      And He bore the sin of many,
      And made intercession for the transgressors.

            I believe we are all here for a specific reason. I believe we were all born for a specific purpose. Nobody has ever been born by mistake. God knew you, made plans for you, and formed you. We may not know what our purpose in this life is, but God does. And as weird as it may seem, we celebrate the birth of a little baby boy, who was born to die. He was born to be humiliated, tortured, and eventually killed to take away our sins.
            We talked about the name of Jesus, and what He would be called, but one question remains, what are you going to call Him? Good teacher? Prophet? Lunatic? Some guy who died a long time ago? Savior? Lord? Jesus asked Peter 2000 years ago, “Who do you say I am?”