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What’s in a Name?

December 22nd, 2010


We certainly don’t put the same amount of stock in names as we once did.  There was a time when names were chosen specifically for their meaning.  Anymore it seems like people simply write down the first word that comes to mind when they fill out their child’s birth certificate.  At least I hope that no serious thought went into naming a child who is saddled with an appellation such as “Apple” or “Pilot Inspektor”.  If we did base our decision on the meaning of the name there would be no little boys named “Calvin”  (bald one”) and definitely no one would name a child “Kennedy” (ugly head).  I certainly didn’t search the meaning of the names we’ve chosen for our sons. Instead of “Bryce” (son of rice), I would have named him “Kevin” (Handsome) and Henry would still be “Henry” (Ruler of the Home), but I would have added “Egbert” (formidably intelligent) as well.

The wonderful truth is that there is great meaning and significance in the name “Emmanuel”.  Matthew 1:23 quotes the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  Earlier in verse 21 and later in verse 25, the Bible clearly indicates that this Emmanuel is Jesus Christ and that He would “save His people from their sins.”  We know the meaning of Emmanuel, but often we forget the significance of that meaning.

GOD
First, this name declares the Deity of Christ.  In this day and age many religious groups call into question the deity of Christ.  Many claim He is nothing more than a man – a good man, but a man nonetheless. They will say He was a prophet and some may confess that He is indeed the Son of God, but only insomuch that He is a creation of God and not actually God, essentially stripping away His Godliness and thus the efficacy of His atoning work on the cross.   We must realize that this name speaks of Who Jesus is.  He is God.  This verse clearly proclaims this truth.  He is God and has all the power and might of God, but beyond that, it also magnifies what He became for us.  Philippians 2:5-8 lays it out for us:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


WITH
This word alludes to accompaniment.  I have a limited background in music.  It’s limited in that I have been the music director at Calvary Baptist Church for almost 10 years which encompasses my entire music background, save a song leading class I was forced to take in college.  However, in that time I have learned a great deal about music and come to understand the importance of accompaniment.   I do not sing well, but I do not sing at all without adequate accompaniment.  Accompaniment serves two purposes (there may be more but for the sake of this illustration we will only deal with the two).  First, it serves to support.  It aids the singer in staying on the right note, in the right key and for those with my nondescript talents, it helps us sing the right song.  Its purpose is to help the singer sing.  Much like accompaniment, Christ helps the Christian live like a Christian.  We cannot hope to do it apart from Him.  Second, accompaniment enhances.  Once a singer is comfortable with the notes, key and timing of a song, they can allow the accompaniment to aid in dynamics and help communicate the message of the song more clearly and beautifully.  Christ has promised that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  If we are obedient and live by the principles of His Word (which He has promised to help us do), He will bless us and enhance our lives.  John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”


US
Lastly, this requires a reckoning.  We must realize that “us” means us.  We must stop reading the Bible like we listen to radio contests.  Often radio stations have prizes and giveaways that you can win if you’re the ninth caller.  We may hear what it says and even be tempted to call but we never really reckon that the you in “you could win” means us.  We know that they are referring to somebody else because “we” never win.  Conversely, when the Bible declare that “God is with US”, the “us” isn’t some nebulous group of people that we’ll never meet or know.  When the Bible says “us”, it means you and me.  We are “us”.  We must begin to read the Bible in the way God intended for it to be read – a letter addressed to specific people.  Just because it applies to everyone in general doesn’t mean that it’s not meant on a personal and intimate level as well.

We know what the Bible says, but do we allow it to shape our thinking and way of life?  Do we go about thinking that God, in fact, IS with us?  This Christmas season let’s bear in mind these truths and allow them to shape the way we view it.  You’ll find that the “true meaning of Christmas” (a thing for which the world is constantly searching) is not easily forgotten.  You will have a very merry Christmas when you recognize that God is with you.

Merry Christmas!



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