Asking someone their name is not something we do just to get a piece of information to store away in our memory banks. When you ask a person their name, the underlying intention is always to know more about a person, to begin some sort of relationship with them that did not exist before their name was asked. Before the coming of Jesus Christ to earth in the flesh, people wondered for millennia what the name of God was, as they searched for truth about life, and about the existence of God. Many men and women have asked this question, and not gotten an answer, or perhaps attempted even to supply a name themselves, in vain.
In the Bible, I think for example, of Jacob.On that night as he wrestled with the mysterious figure—whom I believe was the pre-incarnate Christ—as dawn was about to crack, he asked of the man, “Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.” (Genesis 32:29) He never got an answer, just a rebuke, and a large blessing after that. Then I think of Moses, who when he was asked to go to the Israelites by God, said to Him, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:13-14). No specific name was revealed to Moses, but certain attributes of God—His unchanging and eternal nature—were revealed to him. Then in Proverbs 30, Agur the son of Jakeh says, “Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One. . . What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!” Whoever he was addressing at the time, surely did not know! Maybe other examples can be cited to illustrate this penchant of human beings to ask God to “Tell me Your Name.”
While in the Old Testament God is known by names like Elohim, Yahweh, and many other names, nowhere does He reveal His name in specific terms of “My Name is. . .”, so that there is a humanness to the Name. No one in history had this privilege of knowing this Name of God that would establish a personal relationship between God and man. Until that is, sometime in 6 or 5 B.C., when obscure yet righteous Joseph and Mary are visited by angels, who announce the birth of God in the flesh, and tell them His Name. The angel says to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High . . .” (Luke 1:31-32). To Joseph the angel announces, “ . . . you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Joseph and Mary did not ask God (or perhaps they did and we don’t know) to tell them His Name like Jacob, Moses, and Agur did. Yet at the right time, His Name, and His coming to earth in the flesh were announced to them.
Shakespeare is known to have famously quipped, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Maybe so for roses, but not so for the Rose of Sharon, the Lord Jesus. In the announcement of His Name to his earthly parents are revealed His character, His identity, and His mission: He is great; He is the Son of the Most High; His mission is to save “his people” from their sins. And with this, there is great power in the Name of Jesus. But there is also great attractiveness in that Name—an invitation to relationship, for He came to save “his people” from their sins. He is the God who came for people, His people. He gives us His Name and invites us to be His, and tells us He is ours, in a love relationship.
Have you ever known God personally? If not, perhaps it is because you do not know His Name. His Name is Jesus. Behind the giving out of, and the asking for a name, lies the intention of relationship. Here, Jesus tells us His Name so that we may better know God and relate to Him personally. Come today, in Jesus’ Name, so that He may save you from your sins, and that you may be reconciled into a relationship with God. And if you already are reconciled, still come in Jesus’ Name, to know Him even better. There is a lot more to know once you know His Name!
© Kenny Damara, 2014