Bulletin-Image-wk2Last week we began a new worship series called “The Wonder of Christmas” as we focused on different areas of wonder in our lives. We looked at the wonder of a star and how we could see that wonder in our lives as we looked for signs that lead us back to God. This week we turn our attention to names. More specifically, the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord, King of Kings. There is power in that name, there is healing in that name, there is salvation in that name, there is wonder in that name.

Whether it’s given to us at birth, or one that we pick up along the road of life, our names have a meaning. Our names tell others about us. The name of Jesus is no different. So, how did Mary and Joseph find the name? They didn’t have the internet to search, or countless baby name books to reference, so how did they? Well, the name was chosen for them. What is interesting is that the birth of Jesus is mentioned in only two of the four gospels, Matthew and Luke. And while they differ on much of the story, there is one thing that they share in common; the naming of Jesus. Could this show just how important the name is? If so, what is the meaning behind the name Jesus?

Jesus means ‘one who saves.’ So, if Jesus is the one who saves, we must need saving. It is certainly written in the gospel of John that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that if we believe in him we would have eternal life. We would be saved. But saved from what? What is our problem?

I guess we could see that we could be saved from an ignorance of God. But if that were the only reason, Jesus could have just been a teacher. We could see that we need saving from our brokenness. But if that was it, Jesus would just need to be a healer. If we needed saving from only our relationships, Jesus would only need to be a counselor. Or if it was just lifting us out of poverty, Jesus could have been a financial advisor.

But we must see that our problem runs much deeper than just these things. We need saving from all of these things, and even more. We need a savior who can save us from the root of all these things, sin. We need someone to search us out and save us from ourselves.

Jesus is the one who saves, just as his name reflects. Matthew 1:21 tells us that his name will be Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. My sins, your sins, we are all saved from those sins when we call on his name, the powerful name of Jesus, and ask for forgiveness. And this forgiveness is not limited to just a few people, this is open to all who believe. Regardless of cultural or socio-economic status, race, age, or orientation, all are welcomed. This is for you, it’s for me, it’s for your neighbors, and it’s even for your enemies. It is for all of us. Jesus is the one who saves, and he saves us all!

What’s more, is that when we decide to believe and follow Jesus, we are given a new name. Sure, we still have our first names, but we are called by a new name also, Christian. There is wonder in that name. It’s a powerful name, one that you should be proud of, one that you should proclaim by what you say and do. It’s a name that you don’t want to lose.

There’s a story about Mark Cuban, one of the sharks on Shark Tank as well as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Around the year 2000, he offered a Chicago sports radio host, David Kaplan, $50,000 to legally change his name to Dallas Maverick. Kaplan declined the offer, but Mark wasn’t done. Mark Cuban raised the stakes by offering him $100,000 and another $100,000 to his favorite charity if he would change his name for one year. Kaplan thought about it, and even after many emails from listeners who said he would be stupid if he didn’t take the offer and change his name, he stood his ground and declined once again. Kaplan said, “I’d be saying I’d do anything for money, and that bothers me. My name is my birthright. I’d like to preserve my integrity and credibility.”

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we gain this new name of Christian and it is our birthright. We have a responsibility to live every day in a way that brings honor to that name. For me, that name is not for sale. That name is not a bargaining chip. That name is not something to take lightly. The name Christian has power. The name Christian has integrity. The name Christian has honesty, love, compassion, and so many other characteristics that go along with it. I am a Christian, and I wear that name boldly.

Remember, that this is a time to feel once again, the wonder of Christmas. We are reminded that once we believe, anything is possible. Today we believe in the wonder of a name, Jesus Christ.