You shall call His name , for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21
I performed a wedding for a couple who lived in Tacoma’s hilltop area and they had a baby in which they wanted to name the child from the bible. Know what they named the little fella? Messiah. It’s in the Bible, alright.
What does this naming event of Jesus tell us? In the Bible, a person’s name was never just a label. Kids never got names because their parents just liked the sound of it. Kids never got a name because the name was the name of the favorite soap opera character or of the mother or the father’s uncle.
Whoever gives you your identity is your authority. Your name always shows you your purpose. It tells you what you’re to live for, what you’re here to do. If you know these two things, the Bible says, you know who you are.
Now let’s apply it to Jesus. Who is Jesus’authority? The reason God will not let Joseph or Mary name this child is because they are not allowed to think they have authority over him.
Do you remember when God brought the animals to Adam and said, “I want you to name these animals?”Was God just out of ideas? He says, “Creation is a hard work. I’ve named all the various botanical species and there are just thousands of them. But I need someone to name these animals. I’ve run out of ideas. Would you give these things labels?”
No, he wasn’t saying that. When he asked Adam to name the animals, he meant, “I want you to take charge of them. I want you to take care of them. You’re not here to exploit, but to care for. You’re responsible for these.”
Therefore, it was normal for parents to name their children, because at least in the early days of the child’s life, a parent was responsible, had authority over the child. But what we have here is God showing up and teaching us that Jesus Christ is not JUST a human being. No one has the right to name Jesus.
Because the minute he was born he was already older than his parents. He was not a mere human being. His parents were supposed to, from the beginning, recognize that. He is the King of Kings. He’s the Lord of Lords. No one has authority over him.
What is Jesus’Purpose? We’re even told in the passage, “You shall call his name Jesus.”Why? Because of his life’s work. “…he will save his people from their sins.”His name was Joshua, and Yeshua breaks down into: “Ye,” the Lord; “shua,” saves.
He is the Redeemer. He is the Restorer. That is His purpose. Think about it: Jesus had what today we call a strong sense of identity. Nothing rattled him …nothing. Whenever you read about him, you have this sense. He knew who He was. There are a lot of things Jesus wrestled with. He was a man of sorrows. He was a man who felt pain. He was a man who felt grief. He was a man who didn’t trust people. He experienced all these sorts of things, but the one thing you don’t see in the Bible at all is that he ever wrestles with his identity. He has the clearest sense of self you could possibly ask for. It unnerved people. It intimidated people everywhere.
He knew who he was. Why? Because he knew these two things: He knew where his name came from, his Father, and he knew what he was about.
God wants to name you. What that means is as a Christian you can have a last name and a first name.
Your last name is God’s family name.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1: 12
We must stop trying to name ourselves. What it means to become a Christian is to say, “Jesus is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Restorer, and my King.”
That is the foundation for your new identity. Your last name is not so much a label as it is an identity. Until you say, “Jesus is my Savior, my Lord, and my King. He is the One who gives me validation. He is the One who makes me acceptable. He has done it all for me. In him, the Father loves me and accepts me completely,”you’ll go on being unhappy.
I wonder how many of us are Christ-followers but our lives are filled with angst and pain and worry and insecurities. Why? Because we have forgotten Whose we are. And we have tried to have too many names. I’m here to remind you of who you are. You have a last name: “You are the “Favored daughter or son of God—Beloved.”
Christians also have a first name. (Or as my Cajun friend Mark Hebert says, “Your Front Name”)
The first name comes from finding your gifts and finding the kinds of people God wants you to help, finding the kind of ministry he wants you to do. The first name comes as time goes on. The longer you walk with God the clearer your “front name”will become.
How do you find your first name? How do you find your niche in the kingdom economy? Only by getting down to obedience, getting down to serving. It takes all your life.
Slowly, incrementally your first name is revealed to you. It’s only by obeying, it’s only by reaching out, it’s only by submitting to him completely and saying, “The most important thing is to serve you and know you,”do you find your first name, in increments.
I’ve been walking with him for over 50 years and am still learning my “front”name. But unless you let God name you, you’ll never find out who you are.
Let me remind you that for all of eternity Jesus and His father had known divine intimacy and oneness. And, if you remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized over what was coming on the cross. Jesus said, Father let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will be done, but Thine.
Then on the cross he cried out, My God, My God why has Thou forsaken me?”
He lost his name so you could find yours.