In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet famously asked, “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell just as sweet.”
That may be true for flowers. But for people, names make a difference.
In the Bible, names mean something. Parents often named their children in honor of events that took place at the time of their birth. Or, they named their children for their unique physical characteristics.
For example, the name of the first man, Adam, means “earth” because God formed him from the dust of the earth. Esau’s name means “hairy” because he was hairy. His twin brother, who hung on to Esau’s heel as he was born, was named Jacob, which means “heel catcher.”
One woman went into labor when she heard that her father-in-law and husband had died and the Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant. She named her child Ichabod, which means “Where is the glory?” (1 Samuel 4:21).
Yet the name that is above all names is the name of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah told us some important things about the name of the Messiah who was to come and also gave us some insights into the character of Jesus: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NLT).
Each name Isaiah used to describe Jesus portrays a different aspect of the work that God wants to do in our lives. “Wonderful Counselor” means that we no longer have to look to the cheap substitutes this world offers to bring us fulfillment because Jesus Christ makes life wonderful. The problems we face in life do not need to baffle us; we know that God will reveal His will to us because Christ is our Counselor.
“Mighty God” takes care of the demands of life that can overwhelm us. “Everlasting Father” means that because Christ came to Earth to die on the cross, pay for our sins, and rise from the dead, we have an everlasting Father who will be with us forever. “Prince of Peace” takes care of the disturbances of life. And how we need that peace in these frightening times.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. In one sense, it was that. But in another sense, Jesus never was technically born. In one sense, He was born as a human and died some thirty-three years later on a Roman cross. But in another sense, Jesus has neither a beginning nor an end.
Jesus is God. He is eternal. He is part of the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To us, Christmas represents the entrance of Jesus to Earth. For God, it meant the departure of His Son from Heaven. “A child is born to us.” That is Earth’s perspective. “A son is given to us.” That is Heaven’s perspective.
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