Names Matter

Oh Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
Psalm 8:1

My parents named me John Vincent KellerJohn comes from the Hebrew name, Jonathan (I Samuel 13), which means gift of God.  My middle name is from my father, Vincent Keller, and comes from the same root as victorious or winner.  So my name gives me a certain amount of pride: I am a gift of God and a winner.  Then to keep me in my proper place my last name, Keller, is the German word for basement or cellar.  I need to remember my humble roots.

Names are significant in the Bible because they are not just tags that differentiate one person from another.  Names carry meaning and significance, essential characteristics of a person.  The Lord God revealed his name to Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked him for it: I am who I am.  (Exodus 3:14).  The Hebrew root of this is YHWH and means to be present or to be encountered.   Another translation of YHWH could be I will be present where I will be present, a reflection of God’s promise to be near us and yet free to be God.  Names reveal character.

Jesus is also given a special name.  In Hebrew his name is Yeshua, which means God saves or rescues.  His father Joseph is told to give this name to Jesus because he will rescue his people from their sin (Matthew 1:21).   Later during his ministry, Jesus will rename Simon, the brother of Andrew, to be Peter or Petra (Greek) which is Rock.  Simon Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah is the rock upon which the church is built (Matthew 16:16-18).  Names matter.

I think of that when I walk into Resurrection Lutheran Church.  This congregation is named for the wondrous historical event, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. With Jesus’ resurrection comes the promise that we too shall rise.  We begin the resurrected life here on earth when we die and rise with Jesus in our baptism.  Resurrection begins as we trust, live and serve God.  Our congregation’s name matters because it reminds us of the Vibrant Life of Faith in Christ.

In what ways do you call upon “the name of the Lord?”

Lord Jesus, thank you for fulfilling your calling to rescue us from our sin.

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