Shakespeare posed this question in his tragic play, Romeo and Juliet. When Juliet learns the man she loves bears the name of her family’s enemy; she has a dilemma. So she poses an argument with herself,

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.”

A simple and poetic truth.

Yet, the meaning of a name more often than not carries great weight.

Parental Involvement

Expectant parents wrestle with the naming of their children. Many factors go into choosing the names of the unborn. A name can be a blessing or a burden for a lifetime and must entail careful consideration. Traditions of passing down names from generation to generation exist in many families. My family is one.

Yet others choose names, untethered by family obligation. A new name for a new life. A name designed to create character and hope for a new generation.

Our name is the first thing someone learns about us. It is the initial introduction to who we are as a person. When Juliet met Romeo, there were no names exchanged. Their attraction and connection bloomed without the burden of family history. Love flourished. Then, Juliet discovered Romeo was a Montague. She had to decide, would that name stand in the way of her happiness.

Women often think of names they would like to give to the children they might one day have. I was one of them, yet, as much as having a family was part of my future hopes and desires, I never married or gave birth to a child. I never had that conversation with a spouse.

Likewise, consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. Did she have these thoughts as a young woman, promised in marriage? And her fiancé, Joseph, what were the obligatory names children born to him would carry?

But the child Mary carried was not of his blood.

Divine Involvement

Then, when he was ready to end the engagement, God intervened. God’s angel spoke to him in a dream, telling him to get proceed with the marriage. Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would have a son and Joseph was to name him Jesus – God saves – because he would save his people from their sins. This would bring the prophet Isaiah’s prediction to fruition, (Isaiah 7:14), “A virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for God is with us.)”

Consequently, in the naming of Jesus, God has covered both his Son’s temporal and eternal existence.

When Jesus came, God dwelt among mankind, revealing the Father in heaven. When Jesus left this earthly life, he promised he would be with us.

The prophet Isaiah foretold of the saviour’s coming. The angel of God reminded Joseph his son would exemplify God is with us. Jesus is Emmanuel.

Jesus who is the Lord. The one who saves. The one with us.

Before he was born, these were the names chosen for him. During his human existence, they called him Jesus. But his eternal name, the name which carries the full weight of his mission and message, is Emmanuel. A reminder that God is with us.

What of this name, Emmanuel?

Throughout the Bible, there are many names for God, and time spent researching them would be a boost to any believer’s faith because they reveal His character.

In this one name, Emmanuel, I find strength.

It is a time of grief for me. My dear, sweet, mother passed from this life the morning of March 25th. Her empty chair greeted me that afternoon as I walked into the apartment I had shared with her for the last ten years. I wandered in the quiet of our home, in shock at the loss. For forty-eight years I have lived with the grief of losing my father at a very young age. Balancing that loss, was the blessing of having my mother live for nearly 103 years.

I feel out of balance.

Now, during this time of mourning, the full depth, breadth, and height of that name Emmanuel resonate with me.

Above all else, He is with me. I am not alone.

2 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?”

  1. Kelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. You are and will be in my prayers during your time of grief.

    What a beautiful post and such a profound truth to remember during this time: God is with you. He is with us always, never leaving or forsaking us, because that is who He is.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *