December 17, 2018
I am fascinated every year to see the popular names of the babies for a given year. The list changes every year and usually reflects names associated with famous people and celebrities or names that were once popular and have re-emerged as a name for this generation of children. Some of the names which are projected to be popular in 2019 include Abigal, Easton, Gabriel, Harper, and Madison. It is interesting to note that when God created the first man he named him Adam. The name Adam actually means “red” and is fitting since many newborns are really very red. When God created woman he named her Eve, which means “life” because she was to be the first mother of all human beings to come. When Adam and Eve became parents they named the first son at birth Cain, and their second Abel. Today we name our children at birth also, but maybe it would be a good idea for people to wait and name them after they learn a little more about their personality. The name Cain means “a possession” and Abel means “exalted,” and although Cain and Abel were named at birth, they both actually fulfilled the meaning of their name.
In Genesis we read the story of how Cain was a man who prided himself in growing fruits and vegetables, while Abel was a shepherd. God required an animal sacrifice of them to acknowledge their trust in him. Abel obeyed, and brought a firstborn of his flock, while Cain chose to bring the fruits from his field. Because Abel obeyed him, God looked with favor on him which made Cain so unhappy that he committed the first murder. Cain lived up to his name by becoming self-centered and self-sustaining, not believing he needed God in his life. He directed his anger at God toward his own brother. He is not unlike any person today who rejects the idea of a personal God, a Creator, a Supreme Being to whom we owe our allegiance. Cain epitomizes the person who doesn’t believe he needs God to save him or help him in any way. Abel’s life is characterized by being obedient to God and acknowledging that he needed to confess his sin and offer the blood sacrifice by faith to God for the forgiveness of his sin. Abel reminds us of the person who lives an obedient Christian life, who consistently does what God asks him to do in His Word.
Jesus birth and his name were announced to Mary by an angel. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” or Jeshua in Hebrew or Joshua (which mean the deliverer or the savior),“ Luke 1:26-31. When Jesus, who the angel proclaimed as the Messiah King, came into the world that first Christmas in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a room to stay in and were relegated to spending the night in a stable. Throughout his life Jesus found that most people, especially the religious leaders of the day, had no room for him or his teachings. In the New Testament the apostle Paul clearly gives us a look into the future and the fulfillment of the name given to Jesus so long ago. He wrote that ultimately every person, whether they live their life as a Cain or an Abel, will bow their knee to the one whose name is above every name. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus surely fulfilled the meaning of his name through his life, his death, and his resurrection from the grave, that proved he was the Savior announced by the angels.
During the Christmas season the whole world hears the name of Jesus, but sadly they don’t recognize him as the one God sent to save them. The world does not fear a baby in a manger that the Christmas carols mention and nativity scenes portray. Some grow to despise the name of Jesus and use it as a curse word. Others just have no room in their life for God, who holds them accountable for their sin, and don’t believe that they need a savior. Scripture reminds us of the importance of Jesus coming to this earth and fulfilling the plans that God had for mankind from eternity past. 1 Corinthians15:1-5, “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Jesus Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”
If you have never trusted Jesus as your only hope for the forgiveness of your sins and eternity with him in heaven, why not bow your head right now and receive his forgiveness and his promise of eternal life. Trusting Jesus is simply accepting by faith the gift God offers you through Jesus. When you place your trust in Jesus, you will make a whole new name for yourself.