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What’s in a Name?

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:21

“Gip” Hardin, a Methodist preacher, named his son after the famous preacher John Wesley, reflecting Gip’s hopes and aspirations for his baby boy. John Wesley Hardin, however, tragically chose a different path than his ministry-minded namesake. Claiming to have killed forty-two men, Hardin became one of the most notorious gunfighters and outlaws of the American West of the late 1800s.

In the Bible, as in many cultures today, names hold special significance. Announcing the birth of God’s Son, an angel instructed Joseph to name Mary’s child “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The meaning of Jesus’s name—“Jehovah saves”—confirmed His mission to save from sin.

Unlike Hardin, Jesus completely and thoroughly lived up to His name. Through His death and resurrection, He accomplished His mission of rescue. John affirmed the life-giving power of Jesus’s name, saying, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The book of Acts invites everyone to trust Him, for, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

All who call on Jesus’s matchless name in faith can experience for themselves the forgiveness and hope He provides. Have you called on His name?

Thank You, Father, for providing salvation through Your Son, Jesus. I love You.

Jesus’s name is also His mission—to seek and to save that which was lost.


In the Bible, people’s names often end up calling attention to their failures. For example, at birth Samson’s parents gave him a name that meant “like the sun.” By the time he died, his name reminds us of one who lived a dark and troubled life.

The names of God remind us of one whose character never fails. He is named, described, and remembered not only as the self-existent one (Exodus 3:14), but as the all-powerful Creator (Genesis 1:1), the Lord who provides (22:13–14), the Lord who gives peace (Judges 6:24), the Lord who is present (Ezekiel 48:35), and ultimately, the God and Father of our Savior (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3).

Mart DeHaan

By |2018-09-11T16:30:28-04:00September 13th, 2018|
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