What’s in a name?
Many of us have a story of how our names were given to us. My Father’s family have a long history of using the names John and Andrew and my Mother’s family have rather a lot of James’s! These names have been used from generation to generation-yet often without us really knowing how or why these traditions started. Although my parents broke both of their family traditions, as did we when naming our own children, choosing names we simply liked the sound of!
In biblical times names were more intentional, often saying something about a person’s character or situation. We can find many examples in the Bible of names being changed to meet a circumstance or a purpose. Daniel and his three friends were given new names when captured to serve King Nebuchadnezzar, this was probably to erase their Hebrew heritage and to fully immerse them in the culture of the Babylonians. There are also occasions where God gives people a new name, Sarai and Abram became Sarah and Abraham to reflect God’s Covenant (Genesis 17) and Jacob becomes Israel (Genesis 32) after he wrestled with God. When we come to the New Testament we read about Jesus giving 3 of his disciples a new names (Mark 3) and then later after the Holy spirit sets him apart for the work to which he was called, we see Saul becoming known as Paul (Acts 3).
Psalm 23 written by King David is often used to bring comfort in times of distress or worry, it gives such a beautiful picture of who God is. David was a shepherd before he was a king, so he knew the importance the role of the shepherd has on the herd and the wellbeing of each individual sheep, hence him using this relationship to illustrate how important our relationship with God is.
In John 10:3-4 Jesus says:
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all of his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”
this is then followed by one of the great “I Am” statements of Jesus,
“I am the good shepherd “(John 10:11)
We can sometimes find it difficult learning and remembering people’s names, how awesome is it that Jesus know’ s each and every one of us and calls us by name? What then can we do to be prepared to hear Him and respond?
I leave you today with Stuart Townends version of Psalm 23