I have one name. A first, middle and last. Yeah, my friends call me Les. And my kids call me Mama or Mom. I don't have many nicknames. And the one legal name I do have wasn't given to me with much reason behind it. My name feels more or less like a label, and sometimes it's simply a title.
But Jesus' name! Names, that is. There are so many listed in the Bible that I lose count. Each and every one is poignant and rife with meaning. Each and every name tells us something powerful about the character of our Lord.
And so many of them are associated with Christmas. Let's start with the prophecy about Jesus, spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah some 400 years before in one of the most well-known Christmas passages in the Bible. I love this verse for all it promises I have in Him...
3. Mighty God
4. Everlasting Father
5. Prince of Peace
for a child is born to us and he shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6 (yes, some translations separate the first two; I like that idea...that "Wonderful" is a name in and of itself.)
7. Christ the Lord
today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord
she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
10. Son of the Most High
he will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High
11. The Word
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God with us.'
These 12 names each reveal a deep truth, a promise about who this baby was and is. But the last is my favorite. I saved it for last. If you looked in my December blog archives, you'd see I've written about Immanuel and all this name has meant to me many times. Because it's not just that He's with us. We can all roll those words off our tongues to anyone, "God is with you!" Or, "You know, we are having some issues, but God is with us." No. I mean, yes, that is true. He is omnipresent. But Immanuel is so much more than that.
It's that He didn't HAVE to come down here, to earth. But He did, to be WITH us, to walk in our shoes. Our dirt between his toes. Our every emotion, every pain, every tear staining his cheek, piercing his heart. Our sin stealing his breath.
Phillipians chapter 2 says that even though He was God, He didn't cling to His divine privileges. Instead he "became nothing," assumed the role of a slave, and took on flesh.
Immanuel was what He was called because He was God - the God who hung every star in place - who came to live WITH us. Imagine what it must have been like to be alive then. You could have hugged him. I can't even wrap my mind around it. If I get choked up simply reading about Lucy hugging Aslan's neck in the Chronicles of Narnia because of what it symbolizes, what is going to happen when I finally see him face to face in heaven? When I am literally, physically with Him? And by the way, Jesus didn't go back to heaven and become an ethereal creature. Jesus still has a body. A resurrected, fully human, man's body. One day, I'll get to hug Him.
Sorry, I get a little excited about that, and I just realized I've written three paragraphs more than I planned. I just want to hold these names in the forefront this Christmas season. I want to talk about them with my kids. I want you to think about them as you lie in bed...
12 names, 12 promises, and visions of Immanuel twinkling in your head.
I hear sugarplums are overrated, anyways.