WHAT’S IN A NAME? - December 13, 2022
Tuesday, December 13th
Advent Devotional #17 written by Pastor Shawn Thornton
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
I was born just five days before Christmas, and my name, Shawn, has a distant connection to the Christmas story. Shawn is the Irish version of John. The story of our Savior’s birth in Luke chapter one begins with Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah being told by an angel that they would have a son in their old age and that they should name that son “John.” He would be the forerunner of his cousin, the Messiah, the baby born to Mary and Joseph.
In the Christmas story, the angel Gabriel visited Joseph and gave him two directives: marry Mary and name the baby Jesus. According to Jewish tradition, like many cultures, the father held the responsibility of naming his son. Often, the father would name the son after himself or another man in the family. In doing this, the family name and legacy was carried on through the name of their baby boy. Joseph broke from this tradition, and in doing so, he drew more attention to what others perceived to be the illegitimacy of Mary’s baby.
In Joseph’s case, he was told by the angel to give his son the name “Jesus” because he would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name “Jesus” came from the Hebrew for “Joshua” and means “Jehovah’s salvation.”
I am not quite sure that as Joseph gave his son the name the angel commanded, he knew the complete fulfillment his son would be to the prophecies of the Old Testament. As Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph may not have made the link to Isaiah’s prophecy that Jesus would be the “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). Gabriel told Joseph that his son would be “called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Even today, it seems odd to call the Son of God the “Everlasting Father.” We must be careful not to confuse the role Jesus carries out as the Son of God as part of the triune God with his function as our “Everlasting Father.”
Isaiah’s descriptive title tells us that Jesus reveals to us the loving characteristics of a protective, providing, and patient father. Jesus expresses to us these same characteristics of God the Father as we walk with him. For the Jews, at the time of Jesus’ birth, they longed to hear from God. They longed to see God at work in their lives. As they struggled under Roman oppression, the people of Israel longed for God to provide for and protect them, as a good father provides for and protects his children.
In Jesus’ name, we have salvation, freedom, love, and forgiveness. We have power in the name of Jesus. With the same power, protection, and patience of a good, good father, Jesus is our everlasting, never-ending provider and protector. He patiently shepherds our lives as we cling to Him.
Prayer for Today: Jesus, thank you for being my protector and provider. Thank you for being my patient and eternal father. Help me reflect your goodness and kindness to others. In your name, Amen.