New Year’s Day is the eighth day after we commemorate Jesus birth on December 25 (counting partial days like we do when we say Jesus was raised on the third day). It is on this day that we commemorate Jesus being named. It is on the eighth day of a Jewish boy’s life that he would traditionally be named and circumcised (see Leviticus 12:3 and Luke 2:15-21 which is the appointed gospel text for this day in the church year).
For this week’s e-vo we will spend some time pondering the name of Jesus.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When you take on someone’s name or do something in someone’s name (through adoption or while acting as an emissary) you strive to do the sorts of things that would be done by or would reflect well on the one whose name you are bearing.
Jesus came in the name of God the Father. He carried himself by living as a slave (servant is too soft a translation here). He served and healed and taught and washed feet and gave up what was rightfully his. He gave his whole life to service and eventually was martyred on the form of a cross. Jesus chose to live and die as a servant to be the best representation of God the Father.
God the Father’s response was to bring Jesus back from the dead and exalt him to his rightful place. All other names are trumped by the name of Jesus. Through that name we can be saved. In that name we baptize. It is in that name that we are called to pick up our own crosses and follow after him.
We are made in God’s image. We also bear the form of God. We have been made right with God through Jesus’ work on the cross. We could rest contentedly on our salvation. We are called to empty ourselves as well and take on the form of a slave. We are to humble ourselves. We might be called to lay down our lives literally in the form of a martyr. We might be called to lay down our lives figuratively as we allow God to do with and through us what God will. We are called to follow after Jesus even if that service or that death comes in the form of a cross.
We need not worry about our name, our reputation or the commendations we do or do not receive. Those things pale in the light of Jesus’ glory and honor. When people want to heap praise and adoration on us our better response is akin to the one Jesus offers in Luke 17:10—“We are worthless slaves; we have only done as we ought to have done!” The only real evaluation that matters is from our master. May we all hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” when that time comes.
God, teach us to cherish and live into the strong name of Jesus—the name into which we are baptized; the name which saves us; the name which we confess. Help us bring honor and glory to that name—help us shun the things that degrade that name and degrade us. We pray this things in that same strong name of Jesus. Amen.