Here’s a thought for Jan. 3

Jan. 1 is the Feast of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. This short reflection will thus focus on this portion of Luke 2:21, “He was called Jesus.”

There is far more associated with a name than we could imagine. Image, personality, personhood, reputation are all attached to one’s name. A name evokes everything that one knows and thinks about a person.

So the name of Jesus is no small matter. It tells you everything you need to know about him. The meaning of Jesus’ name is the totality of his identity: He saves.

This is how Jesus wants to be known to you. He wants you to attach the act of saving to his name and only to his name. In Acts 4:12 we are told, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

That is why worship is done in the name of Jesus. This becomes quite evident in a number of common liturgical formula. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The service begins in the name of the triune God because everything in the service will testify to what the triune God has done for us. “Beseeching him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” Absolution is done in the name of the Trinity. “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” “Hallowed be thy name.” And the Benediction, which again reminds us that the Lord’s name is upon us.

Everything within the Divine Service is done in the name of Jesus. Why? Because only his name saves. Everything done in the life of a Christian is done in the name of Jesus. Why? Because that is the name put upon every Christian in their baptism. It’s the name put on you. Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and your will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Given how important names are, what do others think of when hearing your name? What do you think of?

Liar? Cheat? Scoundrel? Adulterer? Gossiper? And would they be wrong? If not in deeds, then probably in words. If not in words, then definitely in thoughts. And all of these wrongful thoughts, words and deeds defile and defame the name of Jesus.

Still Jesus’ name has been placed upon you. And that means that salvation is yours. The name of Jesus placed on you does exactly what it means: it saves.

So who are you? The sign of the cross was made upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. Your name and identity is firm in Christ.

The name of Jesus makes all the difference for you. It means life with him. It means a new life. All the past wrongful thoughts, words, and deeds do not belong to your name. They are no longer attached to you. They are all on Jesus. They were put to death with him. And you arose a new creation with him.

With the name of Jesus placed upon you, the old has gone and the new has come. Who are you? You are Christ’s. Your name is written in the book of life. You are saved, renewed, and restored. All in and all because of the name of Jesus.