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What’s in a Name?

[Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph. Luke 3:23

In God’s timing, our son Kofi was born on a Friday, which is exactly what his name means—boy born on Friday. We named him after a Ghanaian friend of ours, a pastor whose only son died. He prays for our Kofi constantly. We’re deeply honored.

It’s easy to miss the significance in a name if you don’t know the story behind it. In Luke 3, we find a fascinating detail about a name in the ancestry of Joseph. The genealogy traces Joseph’s line backward all the way to Adam and even to God (v. 38). In verse 31 we read: “the son of Nathan, the son of David.” Nathan? That’s interesting. In 1 Chronicles 3:5 we learn that Nathan was born to Bathsheba.

Is it coincidence that David named Bathsheba’s child Nathan? Recall the backstory. Bathsheba was never supposed to be David’s wife. Another Nathan—the prophet—bravely confronted the king for abusing his authority to exploit Bathsheba and murder her husband (see 2 Samuel 12).

David accepted the prophet’s point-blank rebuke and repented of his horrific offenses. With the healing passage of time, he would name his son Nathan. How appropriate that this was Bathsheba’s son, and that he would be one of the ancestors of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly dad (Luke 3:23).

In the Bible, we keep finding God’s grace woven into everything—even into an obscure name in a seldom-read genealogy. God’s grace is everywhere.

What unlikely places have you seen God’s grace showing up in your life? How can focusing on God’s big story help you find the grace in your part of that story?
Dear God, help us to find Your grace everywhere we look.


Gospel writers Matthew (1:1–16) and Luke (3:23–38) both include genealogies of Jesus. Several interesting genealogical gems are worth noting. Luke lists seventy-six generations; Matthew includes just forty-one. Each writer’s list is consistent with the purpose and emphases of their gospel. Matthew’s account begins with Abraham (v. 1) and ends with Jesus. Luke’s record begins with Jesus and is traced all the way back to Adam (v. 38). Matthew’s list highlights Jesus’ Abrahamic and Davidic roots. Luke, emphasizing Jesus as the Son of Man, takes his readers back to Adam, the father of mankind. It’s interesting that in Matthew’s account five women are listed among the names: Tamar (v. 3); gentiles Rahab and Ruth (v. 5); the wife of Uriah (v. 6), and Mary (v. 16).

By |2020-05-11T12:05:56-04:00May 17th, 2020|
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