The Value of a Name

The most stressful decision that young parents make is not what doctor or hospital they will use, but rather it is the name of the child. The young parents may begin by recalling family names and eliminate the obscure or odd names. They will discuss their own ideas and names, but generally will remain divided among themselves. Sides will begin to form and additional friends and family will be called to help narrow down the choices. Finally, the day comes and the child is born and the nurse asks the question – “What’s the name of the child?” As the mother is still recovering from the day’s activities, the dad responds with his initial choice - “Benjamon Colby Junkin Jr.”.

The greatest name ever given among man was announced by an angel who told Joseph – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The value of Jesus’ name is not simply found in its letters or syllables, but rather in what was accomplished through His life, death, burial, and resurrection. The apostle Paul summarized the power and authority of Jesus’ name, when he wrote –

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

The name of Jesus is much more than just a family name passed down from generation to generation. The value of Jesus’ name is emphasized throughout the New Testament, but it received special attention during the early days of the church.

In the days following Pentecost, the apostles, Peter and John, were entering the temple, when a lame man began to ask them for alms (Acts 3:1-8). The apostle Peter turned and responded to the man – “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you; In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” One can only imagine the lame’s man initial response to such a statement from Peter, but then he felt the nerves and muscles of his legs come back to life. The lame man did not gingerly respond to Peter’s proclamation, but rather Luke recorded – “With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” The lame man was healed by his faith in Jesus’ name (3:16).

The reaction of many that day in the Temple was amazement, but there remained those who were fearful of the apostles and the name of Jesus. The rulers and elders and scribes were once again finding themselves in opposition to the name of Jesus. What they thought would have been crushed by the crucifixion of Jesus has not stopped, but rather is seeming to grow in momentum. The number of Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem had grown to about five thousand men and this had to be stopped (4:4). Their fear of Jesus’ name caused them to arrest Peter and John and while they could not deny the miracle, they commanded them to no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus (4:16-17). These men allowed their own pride and arrogance to keep them from yielding and submitting to the authority and power of Jesus’ name.

The apostles responded to the threat of the council – “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (4:19b-20). These men were commanded by their Lord to preach the gospel and make disciples of every nation and this minor imprisonment would not stop them from fulfilling their Lord’s command (Matthew 28:18-20). The apostle Peter understood the value of Jesus’ name, when he told the council – “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (4:12). The message of the gospel in Jesus’ name offered mankind the only source of forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life. This message would not be stopped by the wiles of the devil and his disciples, but rather the apostles prayed for boldness to speak the Word of God (4:31).

The apostles were emboldened by this trial and continued to preach and teach daily in Jesus’ name. The results of their work is recorded by Luke – “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,” (5:14). The growth of the disciples of Jesus caused the high priest and all his associates to be filled with jealously (5:17). This must be stopped and again the apostles were arrested and thrown into jail (5:18). The Lord’s faithful would not be in prison for long, but an angel was sent during the night and instructed the apostles – “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life” (5:20). When the apostles were found in the Temple preaching the next morning, they were again arrested and brought before the council. The council again warned them to no longer speak in Jesus’ name and flogged them (5:40).

The apostles’ reaction to this persecution demonstrates the power and strength that is attainable in the name of Jesus. Luke recorded – “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (5:41). These men were not discouraged by their predicament, but rather were encouraged, but how/why? The name of Jesus becomes for all who faithfully submit to His authority a source of strength beyond human comprehension. In the midst of Paul’s Roman imprisonment, he wrote – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). This is not a promise to be able to win in sporting events or overcome some physical obstacle, but rather that no matter the circumstances of life we have victory over sin and death through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57; Hebrews 2:14).

The value of a good name cannot be diminished or overlooked. Solomon wrote – “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). Our name is what makes us unique and distinguishes us from our brothers/sisters. It becomes intimately associated with who we are and how we live. There is a second name that similarly should be intimately associated with who we are and how we live. This name was first given to the disciples in Antioch - Christian (Acts 11:26). Am I living in such a way that I would be recognized as one of His own, or does my lifestyle contradict my profession? May God bless us in our efforts to wear the name of Christ with honor and humility.