May 07, 2016

Naming Rights

Luke 1:57-66

“His mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

—  Luke 1:60

There is a trend among celebrities today to give their children strange names—like Blue Ivy and North West. That’s quite the opposite from the practice in ancient Middle Eastern cultures, where names had profound meaning and pointed to future outcomes. Names were passed down for generations. Zechariah meant “the Lord has remembered.” Elizabeth meant “consecrated to God.” Both names were connected to a powerful theme: God’s promises. When God promises, he delivers. Every time their names were uttered, the gospel was preached, and God’s promises fueled hope for the future.

Elizabeth made breaking news when she said her baby’s name would be John, meaning “God is gracious.” This was God’s name for this child, as the angel had told Zechariah many months before (Luke 1:13).

Sometimes a miracle of God has to break tradition in order to remind people of the undeserved, unpredictable grace of God at work. Grace becomes amazing when we stop trying to force it into our old models. 

Do you need to break old habits? Where do you need to practice simple obedience this week? How are you living out your name as a child of the King? You and I are preaching the gospel with every act of obedience to the Lord’s work in our lives. God will always keep up his end of the promise.

Thank you, Lord, for writing my name on the palm of your hand. I trust in your faithfulness today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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