In 2017, my wife was pregnant with our first child. We had just recently found out that we were going to be having a boy and we were thick in trying to come up with names for our little guy. This wasn’t just a pick-and-choose exercise, we wanted the name to have meaning and purpose. We eventually settled on the name Jackson Barret (one “t”). We chose this name after two bold and courageous, but also weak and imperfect, men of history. As Jackson grows up, we want him to know what it means to protect the weak and be bold in the face of adversity like the men he is named after but we also want him to see these fallen vessels and learn from their shortcomings. Our hope and prayer is that he would become a man who is bold and courageous not because of a cause but because of his faith. Names have meaning and significance to them. While they don’t define us or our identities, they can help us understand some important things about who we are, and more importantly, whose we are.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” -Isaiah 9:6-7
A child is born, a son is given; not in a sterile hospital room like our little Jackson but in a manger. But this is no ordinary child, this is God Himself stepped down and dwelling with us. This is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. His name is Jesus. The child that Isaiah prophesied would be born. Christ’s kingdom has no end and is established forevermore. This is what we celebrate this Christmas season; that in the midst of darkness, light came down; that in the midst of hopelessness, hope is found.
And in the establishment of His Kingdom, Christ gives us a new name. We are no longer left as sinners or aliens or enemies of God. By grace through faith, we are now citizens of heaven and children of God.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” -1 John 3:1
And to be called a child of God means something. It’s not an honorary title or a name based on our merit. There is significance and purpose, intentionality behind these words, because of the finished work of Christ. As children of God, we live to represent our Heavenly Father. As children of God we rest, secured in the knowledge that we are a part of His family. And as children of God we go, inviting others into this family, inviting others to see the kind of love that the Father has given us, inviting others to sit back in awe of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.