“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder, And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “~ Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
I remember when I learned I was pregnant with my first child. In addition to wondering if the baby was a boy or a girl – and what he or she would be like – I started thinking about to call the newest member of the family. Should we name the baby after a relative? Find an original and unique name to be butchered by teachers for years to come? Select a name because of its meaning or because it sounded good with our last name? Reject a name solely because we used to know somebody with that name and didn’t like them?
The process of name selection took time and a lot of debate. In the end, our kids all carry short names from the Bible and share middle names with their parents or grandparents.
This past weekend, our church choir sang a song based on this verse and it got me thinking about Jesus and His name. Or should I say names? In the opening verse alone, He is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. That doesn’t include other names like Savior, Redeemer, King, Friend, Healer, High Priest, Fortress, Light, and Shepherd. (And the list goes on and on.)
Why so many names? I think perhaps it is because God doesn’t fit into a box and a single label can’t adequately describe Him. In fact, language in general falls short. Yet, somehow, in the middle (or muddle) of a pile of names, a hazy picture emerges of who God is and how He relates to His creation in their individual circumstances during different seasons of life.
So, as I continue to reflect on the Christmas story and the reason for the season, I’m reminded that there is a mountain of meaning in a name. Because even the seemingly simple name of Jesus means “Jehovah saves” and that is a name to change the world.
What about you? What importance do you place on names? What names for God mean the most to you and why?