Names; December 23, 2022

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

I don’t know that Jesus was ever addressed as Immanuel while He walked this earth, (though it’s not impossible) but He has certainly been referred to as that many times since then. His given name of Yeshua, specified by the angel in verse 21, was likewise meaningful: Yahweh is Salvation. Whereas it is true that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” names have been expected to be descriptive in many cultures, even though they aren’t much so in current culture. God Himself is given various names in the Old Testament, and they are all meaningfully descriptive. The biggest issue for us is how we perceive and relate to the One we call Jesus. It is when we grasp that He is indeed God With Us, that Yahweh is indeed our salvation, that we open our hearts to acknowledge and obey Him as Lord. Every Christian has done that to some degree, but none of us have done it perfectly, because of our very human limitations. That’s why my father’s catch phrase, “Give all you know of yourself to all you know of Christ,” is important not just for the initial moment of commitment and salvation, but throughout our time on earth. Anyone who thinks they know themselves perfectly is mistaken, and Christ, being part of the infinite Godhead, is by definition beyond the power of our human brains to comprehend fully. Life by its definition includes growth, and as long as we are alive we are to keep growing in our self-knowledge and our knowledge of the One who gave Himself to be born as a human baby and then die to take the penalty for our sins.

Names have been something of an issue for me all my life. When I was an infant, someone hearing that my name was Jackson Max­field Garrott commented, “That’s a mighty big name for such a small baby.” My mother’s response? “He’ll grow.” Each of my names is meaningful in my family. My father’s father was Ernest Perry Jackson Garrott. Since they wanted to name me for him (having given one of my mother’s father’s names to my older brother) they asked him which of those names he liked best. I could easily have been Ernest, or Perry! I like to think he chose Jackson because it means “son of an apprentice/disciple.” My father was certainly a disciple of Jesus Christ! Maxfield was his mother’s maiden name, as well as his own middle name (and the one he used, going by Max). I like Jackson because it is clearly humble, not even claiming to be a disciple but simply the son of one. My highest dream is to hear the words spoken by the master in Jesus’s parable: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) I have more to learn of myself, and much more to learn of Christ, and my prayer is that I keep learning.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I do indeed learn more all the time, of myself and of my Lord. Thank You for Your grace to enable me to do that. May I do with that knowledge what You desire, to be an effective, useful servant indeed, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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