What's in a name? These days we are quick to saddle our offspring with the names of the latest pop star or cultural phenomenon. For the OK Magazine fanbase and the celebrity obsessed, there remains an increasing trend to even name the poor child after the place of their conception, as though they need that message in their head as they grow up. And so, a generation of little Britneys, Brads, Brooklyns and Broom Cupboards emerges into the world, understandably unsure of their identity!
What's in a name? In old money, a name used to express something of the true identity of the bearer. Mr Bun was actually a baker......so was Mr Baker as it happened! The name of Jesus Christ is such a name. It tells us something important about who he is, and helps us to understand what he isn't.
In the language of his day, this was a name loaded with meaning. It would be like me calling my son Geoff Hurst Junior - everyone would know my expectations as little Geoff grew up into greatness! In the same way, this Jesus was known from birth as the Saviour, the rescuer. The one who would liberate his people. No pressure then.
And the Christ. It's not like a surname,'Excuse me, Mr Christ, your table is ready now.' No, the Christ was the Messiah, the one that all of his ancestors had looked forward to, the one who would lead them into triumph.
What's in a name? With this understanding, no wonder the Jesus of the gospels waved his name around in the manner of an American policeman waving his badge. He knew his authority. An authority which could open every door, overcome every hurdle, break through every barrier.
What's in a name? With this kind of authority, it's no wonder we can begin to think about praying in the name of Jesus, being saved in the name of Jesus, getting healed in the name of Jesus, being baptised into the name of Jesus, even asking for anything in the name of Jesus.
What's in a name? So much of what has been done in his name over the centuries has been carried out by those who have not understood his true identity. To paraphrase the popular political slogan - There is a God in heaven who looks down on our illegal wars, our injustice, our unequal wealth and selfishness, and he agrees - 'Not in my name.' That's just not who he is, it's not his identity.
What's in name? It's no good just dressing up as a policeman. You can step out into the traffic and wave your badge but you will still get run over. You have no authority in yourself. Those who are learning their true identity, and that of Jesus, will also learn to exercise authority through relationship with the one who holds all the power. It's in his name where we will best understand who we are and all he calls us to be.
All this is good news which speaks right to the heart of the identity issue for the little lost Britneys, Brads, Brooklyns & Broom Cupboards of our generation.