“You shall give Him the name…” (Matthew 1:21)
Have you ever noticed that, in the Bible, names are really important? Unlike our present day, names were not given because they liked the sound of them – names were given to reflect an important event, to continue a familial connection, or to inspire a fulfillment of that name. Names were attached to an identity.
Examples are numerous, but let us just focus upon on one person – the most important One. Our Lord Jesus actually comes with many identifying names. In the prophecy of His coming: “His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) We see that He will also be called by the name, “Immanu-el,” which means “God with us.” (see Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23) Jesus’ earthly father was actually told what to name the son given to his care: “You shall give Him the name Yeshua (actual Hebrew, for “Jesus”), because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21; “Yeshua” actually means “to save”)
The names given to Jesus are purposeful. They tell a story. They identify His characteristics. They speak of His life’s objectives. They equal WHO and WHAT He is.
For the Jewish people, of those days, one’s name was descriptive – and the meaning of the name was observed and understood. It carried weight. It was replete with substance and significance. The name brought, and shaped, identity.
So what does that mean to us? And how is it tied to our need for the cure?
In just this way… Somewhere along the way, we have all had an identity attached to our souls. Either we put it there (by our own conclusions about ourselves) OR it was placed there by others (usually by someone that we accept as an authority in our lives). Or it was forced upon us by the misdeeds of others (typically, some sort of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse).
Whatever it was – it had a name. And that name holds a powerful sway over our lives. Loser. Idiot. Ugly. Irresponsible. Stupid. Too fat. Weak. (You fill in the blank…)
That name, that identity, shapes our lives. It forms our decision processes. It keeps us shackled. Imprisoned – in the cell of whatever identity it brings us. And when we are alone with our thoughts… this identity is where our thoughts turn – and dwell…
And worst of all, it has kept us from being all that God created us to be. It is the impenetrable barrier to God’s best – that we are powerless to break through.
Our great problem is that we accept this name. We embrace this identity (though we may loathe it completely!). It is so accepted, that it becomes… who we are. It is actually how we see ourselves. Though we might like to be, or wish we were, something else. Though we might cover up our identity to everyone in our lives, we cannot cover up its effects upon us.
We live out what we are. We fulfill what our name demands of us. We become what our identity reveals about us.
This is the malignant malady of human beings. This is what needs cured.
The problem is… we cannot cure it ourselves. Self-help… helps – but it doesn’t cure. It can’t. Those with a lot of will-power can make some headway. But when it is a matter of our strength of will – it won’t. Because the only way to get beyond who we are, is to become somebody else. And that is just not possible.
Or is it??
Tomorrow we will turn the page, and discover something amazing…
Prayer focus: God, today I turn my heart to You… reveal the stark reality of the name I have embraced and the identity I have accepted… so that I may be truly free.