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Immerse: Messiah - Week 11, Day 51

What's in a Name?

My name is Peter. Actually, my full name is Peter Stephen Ramsey. I was named after my grandfather. His name was Simon Peter Heilig.  I don’t know much about him except that he liked the Dolphins and loved my grandmother.  That’s where the “Peter” part of my name comes from.  My middle name even has a story.  When I was born, my dad was overseas serving in the army and the original plan was to spell it “Steven,” but my mom had other plans and wanted to follow the biblical example so she filled out my birth certificate by spelling it “Stephen.”  I’m proud of my name.  It has meaning. It has stories attached to it.  I have even passed some of those stories onto my son Joel, whose middle name is Simon, from that same grandfather. There can be a lot of meaning in a name. I’m sure many of you reading this have stories about who you were named after or why your parents chose your specific name for you.  It has meaning and serves a purpose.

So, what’s in a name?

This week, as you started the Gospel of Matthew for our week 11 reading, you came across a challenging and cumbersome list of names. Some of you may have recognized only a few (uh, Joseph and Jesus!! That’s all I’ve got!), while others might recognize a few more from Sunday school stories from your childhood (I feel like I should know who this Hezekiah guy is, but can’t quite put my finger on it).  I’ll be honest with you – a quick glancing at the list and I can only recall about 2/3 of the names.  Any way you look at it, this list is full of long unpronounceable, seemingly insignificant names.  Or at least that’s what it looks like.

In reality, what we have is a beautiful tapestry of God’s faithfulness through all generations. You see, some of those names we might classify as “good names” – David, Hezekiah, and Josiah – while others could best be described as “not-so-faithful” – Manasseh, Rehoboam and Jehoiachin, to name a few. It shows us how clearly God intended to work through his Son, Jesus, by working through the lives of some of the most evil kings in the history of Israel while at the same time, knowing it was all a part of the plan.  I wonder how Manasseh would have felt if he had been told by an angel or prophet or someone of spiritual significance that his descendant would be the Messiah. Think it would have changed his actions?  Doesn’t matter, does it?  God works things according to His purposes, no matter what kind of leaders there are in power.

Speaking of which…. I hope you voted today, but that’s not the point I want to make.  The point is this: whoever our next President is does not even know the work God will accomplish through them.  Yes, you heard me – both candidates will do exactly what the Lord has planned for them, regardless of what they think they may be accomplishing according to their own desires.

So, what’s in a name? Trump or Biden? Donald or Joseph?  Doesn’t matter because God will use them to continue to weave His will into the hearts and minds of humanity until the day of the Lord’s return. On that day, there will be a name of the utmost importance and that name is Jesus.

May we all do our best to remember the names of those who mean so much to us, but may we do even more to remember the name that is above all other names; a name, when announced will bring about two things: every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

- Peter Stephen Ramsey