What’s In A Name

Earlier this year I went to see my ear, nose and throat doctor, only to find he was no longer my doctor.

Instead, they had assigned me a new doctor . . . Dr. Tongue. I thought his name was a good sign.

The first law clerk I ever had at my law firm had a last name of Butts. Her father was a doctor. He was a proctologist.

Those who knew Dr. Butts noted that he had a great sense of humor, but I always thought there was more to his name.

I do know that names are important to God.

John (as in the Baptist) means “God is gracious.” See Luke 1:13. John ministered a baptism of repentance paving the way so they could receive the grace of God through Jesus. The name Jesus means “The Lord is salvation.”  See Matt. 1:20-21. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Theses names were not accidents but were commanded by God.

God changed Abram’s name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of a multitude”) (Gen. 17:1-6). Abraham became the father of a nation. Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter (“rock”). John 1:42. Peter became the rock of the early Church, ultimately refusing to renounce Jesus and instead be crucified upside down.

I love watching movies and deciphering the symbolism used to convey the message of the movie. I usually start with the title of the movie and pay close attention to the names of the characters. Screenwriters do not assign names to their characters randomly. Often, the name of a character is meant to say something about the personality of the character or the theme of the story. The significance and symbolism of names in a movie is the result of the sovereignty of the screenwriter (or director) over the movie. In other words, the names have significance because the director ultimately has control over the direction of the story.

When it comes to real life, examples like the names of Jesus, John, Abraham and Peter say something not only about the individuals to whom they are assigned, but they speak to the sovereignty of the God who wrote and directs the story. GS