What’s in a Name? A Christmas Eve Sermon from Concordia (Matt 11:18-25)
What is in a Name?
† In Jesus Name †
May the Grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, prove to us He is Immanuel, God WITH Us! AMEN!
I’m confused – Do I call him Jesus or Immanuel
Once upon a time, I managed a fast-food restaurant. It was the rule back in those days to call the managers by Mr., or Mrs., or Ms. and their last name, and cooks and cashiers by their first name.
That was always a challenge for me because, at 22, I had a closing crew that was all older than I was at the time. And having my elderly 40-year-old cashier Su-lin from Thailand, or Maximino and Guillermo, two brothers in their 30’s from Oaxaca call me Mr. Parker just didn’t seem right.
Su-lin had a problem with pronouncing Dustin, so as we were talking one night, she asked me what the name Dustin meant. I told her and Max piped up – so we can just call you Pedro. Fine with me, don’t like Dustin that much.
But it made it confusing for the rest of the staff, looking around when one of the three of them called out – Pedro – help!
As I read the story about Joseph from Matthew’s gospel, I thought of the confusion!
Matthew tells us the angels told Joseph to name his foster Son, Jesus. But then says that this was to fulfill the prophecy that he would be called Immanuel.
So which is it, Jesus or Immanuel? Which do we call him? Which is the proper way to address the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Maybe looking at what why would call Jesus will help us figure it out. Or maybe there is more to a name than how we yell at them from across the room!
The angels say, “you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Pretty simple, and that is what His name means.
Yah – short for Yahweh – God’s name in Hebrew, and Yasha – to make free, to preserve.
In that name, we hear an incredible message, that Jesus came to save us. As the angel says from our sins, from our brokenness.
That is part of the gospel message – that because of Jesus, we won’t face the wrath our sins deserve.
But as the television ads say, there is more, something greater than this life, which is found in what the Old Testament revealed that people will call Him.
The other name Matthew tells us the Messiah will be called is Immanuel! A word that reminds us that God is immanent, that God is immediate, that God is here, with us.
This is the purpose of Jesus saving us, to spend time with us, not just on Christmas and Easter, but every moment of our lives. This is His goal in saving us, His goal in the incarnation and birth, the life and death on the cross, it all ends up with this simple concept,
God with us.
His dream, His desire, repeated over and over in scriptures, “for I will be your God and you will be my people.