There Is Something about that Name

By Rev. Heidi L. Barham |  April 11, 2022

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Philippians 2:5 – 11
Today is Palm Sunday, the sixth Sunday in the season of Lent and the start of Holy Week… and it is the last Sunday before we get to Easter or Resurrection Sunday. 
This is a time when our hearts and spirits are filled with the anticipation of the return of Christ the King… of His second coming… which is sometimes referred to as the Second Advent.  It is the opposite end of the spectrum, so to speak, from the Season of Advent which we celebrate in the weeks leading up to Christmas when we reflect on the birth of Jesus.
Both the season of Lent and the season of Advent are marked with a sense of preparation, expectation, and anticipation which could conceivably be compared to that season of expectancy when parents are awaiting the birth of a child. 
Thanks to modern technology in the form of an ultrasound, often the first question asked of expectant parents is, “Do you know what you’re having?”  To which the response may be “Yes, it’s a girl,” or “Yes, it’s a boy,” or maybe even, “Yes, but we want it to be a surprise for everyone else.”  And still others may say, “No, we chose not to find out what we are having.  We want it to be a surprise.  As long as it is healthy… whatever God gives us will be a blessing.” 
Now, before we had all of this modern testing equipment which sparked the advent of those rather creative gender reveals… we used to rely on some very “scientific” methods to determine a baby’s gender. 
I don’t know about all of you, but I am old enough to remember being at baby showers when the expectant mother would be told to lie down on the couch while one of the guests dangled a string wrapped around a dime over her stomach. 
If it moved side to side, it meant the baby was going to be a girl and if it moved up and down, it meant the baby was a boy or maybe it was the other way around.  In all honesty, I think it really just depended on who was in charge of doing the games for the shower.
But then there was there was the even more scientific “baby-knows-best” test.  You remember that one, don’t you? 
If a little girl baby allowed the mother-to-be to hold her but little boy babies cried, then the baby she was carrying was assumed to be a boy. 
And if the opposite occurred and the little girl babies cried while the little boys snuggled close, then it was determined that she must be having a girl. 
All of this was based on the well-documented theory that opposites attract.
Now, the second most frequently asked question of expectant parents is, “Have you picked out any names yet?”  And because many people choose to use the modern technology that is available, parents generally only have to choose one name if they have made the decision to find out the baby’s gender ahead of time. 
But in days gone by, the response to the name question might go something like, “Well, if it’s a boy, we planning to name him Jack or Frank and if it’s a girl, we are going to name her Susie or Sally.”  
Sometimes the names that are chosen are based on family traditions.  Sons and daughters are often named after fathers or mothers, grandfathers or grandmothers, or aunts or uncles. 
Some names are chosen because they follow a theme.  In my mother’s family, for example, they like to use the same first initial – Virgil, Vance, Vanessa and Vernon, Steve, Sean and Scott, and Wendy and Wayne.
Sometimes parents pick the names of popular people in sports or entertainment or some other arena of public life like Brittany, Adele, Justin, LeBron or Beyonce.
Many times, names are chosen from the Bible.  My younger brother’s name was Steven and I have several cousins who are also named Steven.  My two nephews’ names are Daniel and Matthew and my grandfather, my uncle and my uncle’s son were all given the name Jesse.  And then right here at Ledgewood we have an Eve, two Ruths and even an Elizabeth.
But regardless of the selection method parents may choose, naming a child is important… because the name we give that child will follow them for the rest of their life and can often determine how well they will succeed and potentially how they will be perceived by others.   
Even before we meet a person, we often form an opinion of them based on their name.  It makes me think of that old Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue” and that John Wayne’s real name was actually Marion.
For many job applicants, the name they were blessed with at birth may subject them to hidden biases in the selection process as screeners consciously or unconsciously skip over those with names they believe to be of a particular ethnic background. 
Screeners at airports in the aftermath of September 11 and other terrorist attacks since have often been accused of profiling passengers chosen for “random” security checks… some people believed the choice of passengers was really not random at all, but was based on a person having an ethnic or foreign sounding name.
Now, in the play Romeo and Juliet, the playwright, William Shakespeare, posed the question, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Well, when we study the Scriptures, we find that there is great significance attached to a name.  In the Old and New Testaments, names were used to reflect personal experiences or even to influence a person’s character. 
For example, in the book of Genesis, we find the story of Esau and Jacob.  The name Jacob means supplanter… and he was given that name because although he was the second of the twins to be born, he stole the birthright and the blessing that rightfully belonged to his older brother, Esau.
In the book of Ruth, we encounter Naomi, whose name means, “delightful one” or “my delight.”   However, when she returned from Moab after losing her husband and both of her sons, she no longer felt delight and told everyone to call her “Mara,” which means bitter… because she had suffered such bitter losses in her life.
Over in the book of Acts, a man named Joseph was given the name Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation” because he was so busy caring for and encouraging others.
Now as we think about what is in a name, we are reminded that names can often be a reflection of one’s character.  How many of us have had to deal with the legacy of an older brother or sister in school when a teacher recognized our last name? 
And how many of us were reminded by a parent to behave ourselves as we walked out the door because we carried a certain last name and we should not do anything to bring shame upon that name?
Names really do have significance.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, and to Joseph, as we read in the Gospel of Matthew… he told them both that they would have a son and that they were to give Him the name, Jesus. 
The angel told Mary that this son “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,” and He would reign forever and ever (Luke 1:32).  And he told Joseph, that “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
And when the baby was eight days old, Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple to be circumcised and He was given the name, Jesus.
And let me just say, THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME, Jesus.
As it says in our text for the morning:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” And Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Jesus told His disciples in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
In John 16:23-24, Jesus told the disciples, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” 
In Luke 10:17, the disciples were so amazed at what they were able to do in Jesus’ name that they told Him, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 
In a nutshell, there is power in the name of Jesus.
And yet there are some who do not recognize the power and authority that is in the name of Jesus.  Therefore, it is up to us to go out and tell them about it.
It is why we are told in the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to go out and make disciples, baptizing them, how?  “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, let me pose the question, what’s in our name?
Do we call ourselves Christians?  A child of God?  A joint-heir with Jesus?
And let me ask this, do our lives accurately reflect the name that we claim?  Because the reality is that there is much more to this than simply calling ourselves “Christian.”
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and take on the name “Christian,” we must be willing to accept all that goes along with it.  In fact, the first few verses of our text for the morning as they come from the Message Paraphrase say:
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Now I am not insinuating that we all ought to give our lives over and be crucified… but I am suggesting that we have been called to live lives of surrender… being selfless and obedient to God.
As Christians, we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength.  And to love our neighbors as ourselves… even putting the needs of others ahead of our own.   Simply put, it’s what comes with claiming the name of Jesus.
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME, and there are some things that we should be reflecting… in the name of Jesus.
And just what might some of those things be?  Well, how about “faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). 
As Christians we can have faith in the name of Jesus… trusting that by His name and no other name, we have been saved. 
As Christians we can put our hope in the name of Jesus… praising God because, “in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
And there is love in the name of Jesus… because “God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Now when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and begin to live as a Christian, God commands us to love one another.
It has been said that love is an action word… which is why we should show our love for one another through our actions. 
But not only are we called to love one another… we are called to forgive one another.  And while forgiveness can be a difficult thing at times… the Word of God tells us we are to forgive one another… just as God has forgiven us through Christ Jesus. 
Jesus himself tells us that if we forgive, we will be forgiven.  In other words, forgiveness is not an option for Christians.  It is a requirement.
Now beyond loving one another and forgiving one another, God also commands us to bear one another’s burdens.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” 
Love one another, forgive one another, bear one another’s burdens…
This is what God calls us to do when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior… when we surrender ourselves to living like Him and humbly call ourselves by the name Christian.
Now when we try to answer that question “What’s in a name?” particularly the name Jesus… let me just say, there is so much more than we can ever imagine…  When we talk about the power and authority in the name of Jesus… and reflect on the faith, hope and love, that we find in the name of Jesus… we have barely scratched the surface.
So, let me ask you this … has there ever been a time when you have been at your wits end… when you didn’t know how you would make it through… when you didn’t know if you even wanted to make it through?  And the only thing you could say was “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and suddenly you felt lighter?  Suddenly you didn’t feel quite so hopeless?  But you could not exactly explain why?
The circumstances hadn’t changed.  You were still in the middle of whatever it was that had you at the point of despair only moments before.  And yet, there was a peace and calm that had washed over you.
Just saying the name Jesus in the midst of a storm can bring about a peace that surpasses all understanding… and that really should come as no surprise… after all, He is the one who can calm the winds and the waves simply by saying, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
Which is why, I can say… beyond a shadow of a doubt, THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME
I think the songwriters, Bill and Gloria Gaither, said it best:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name.
Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain;
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that name.
(There's Something About That Name by Bill and Gloria Gaither © 1970)