What’s in a name?

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7 & Luke 2:8-20

Like me, you probably have many stories of how and why family members or friends received the name they did. Our eldest son’s middle name is after my husband’s best friend Garry who died of cancer 2 months after we were married. Our son’s first name was chosen based on the very important fact that it had to sound OK when said out loud with this middle name and our surname!

Our second son … well we just worked our way through a whole range of names we thought sounded OK … again when you patched them together with the surname. I can still hear Mathew lamenting over many years about the fact there was no relational connection or special story behind his name. He would constantly tell us he was going to change his name to Thomas Henry, after his great grandfather. Today yes, he is still Mathew (note we only put one ‘t’ in his name, which has also caused him grief over the years with the spelling).

And to make matters worse, for some reason we didn’t even think it important to consider the ‘meaning behind’ either of our boys names. Who would have thought? Parents!

At the start of Luke’s gospel we read of Mary’s amazing and miraculous story of her baby; the baby whose birth we have just stopped to celebrate and rejoice in.

‘You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name of Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’ Luke 1:31-32

Today, one of the questions often asked of expecting parents is, ‘do you know the gender of the child?’ or, ‘are you going to find out?’ … very much 20th century questions.

For Mary, she knew the answer to both gender and name from the beginning of conception, not through medical technology or personal choice, but by divine revelation. But more than this, it’s almost inconceivable, but these details had been known for centuries!

Isaiah’s words to the people of God, the Israelites, were written around 680 to 700 years BEFORE the birth of Christ. Isaiah spoke about a hope and a future to be fulfilled through a promise of God.

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6

The message from Isaiah was more than the name of this son or the meaning behind the name.

This was about the Son of God and what he would mean to the world, in WHO he would BE.

I recently read a very simple reflection on this passage, and found it most encouraging for remembering the personal nature of this Son of the Most High, and in all this, what He means to me personally.

Wonderful Counsellor …. being one would listen and guide
Mighty God …. being one who rescues
Everlasting Father …. being one who is outside of time, and in this timelessness, still one who would ‘care personally as a parent’
Prince of Peace …. being one who leads in bringing justice and peace

Isaiah was a prophet who never saw the accomplishment of what had been revealed to him. For us this side of the cross, we have the privilege of living in a time that celebrates annually this prophecy fulfilled and through knowing Jesus as Lord and Saviour, can give personal testimony that ALL Isaiah testified, came to fulfilment.

So as we remember this baby born to be King, can I encourage you in the business of all your Christmas celebrations to also stop and take time to think about how Jesus has fulfilled all the promises to you personally, as spoken about by Isaiah so many years ago?

Wonderful Counsellor ….
Mighty God ….
Everlasting Father ….
Prince of Peace ….




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