Due to snow, our New Year’s Eve service was cancelled. This is the sermon that I would have preached.
Read St. Luke 2:21
In the Name of Jesus! AMEN!
The other day I was reading an article online about passwords. I was initially intrigued by the article because I now find myself trying to remember 5 different passwords that go along with one of two different email addresses that will allow me access into who knows how many different websites so I can purchase things, post comments, or read the comments that others have sent to me.
The article which I hoped would be encouraging, turned out to be quite the opposite, as it said that as technology continues to develop, along with the continued aggressiveness of those who are looking to hurt and harm those who use that technology; that passwords are only going to get more complicated and layered in an effort to protect the names behind them.
Worse yet, the article gave no clear advice on devising the perfect password. One expert said use numbers, another said numbers were too easy and that you should use letters; still another expert said to use numbers and letters. It seemed that the only thing they could agree on is that no matter what; do not use your own name.
Which is actually kind of ironic; because in our modern digital age perhaps the most irrelevant piece of information that you carry with you today: is your very name. Nobody wants your name; they only want your information, whether it is the serial number off of a credit card, or the random combination of letters and numbers that you have devised to allow you to access everything from your voicemail to your bank account to your medical records to your driver’s license.
To just state your name is to basically say nothing at all.
That sounds very impersonal, but the world does not see names and faces today, it only sees numbers and codes; and the only way to get the meaning behind those numbers and codes is to enter in still more numbers and codes.
The world has not always been like this. Names used to have meaning, they used to be important, your name used to identify who you were and what you did and where you were from. Your name used to tell everyone everything they ever wanted to know about you.
Today, much of the meaning that was attached to names has been lost. Your name does not really identify your occupation or your hometown anymore. But your name still gives you meaning, it still identifies who you are to those around you.
So perhaps that is why today, in an age of nothing but technology and numbers and codes; people find a desire to be around those who do not see them as a number, but by people who know their names, and what that name carries with it. It is why there is something unique about family and about the local church; because deep inside of each of us, there is a desire to be known by our names, not by a number or a code; for in those few sacred places of the home and the church, you are still a name.
It is probably quite surprising then that there is someone else who does not view you by your name. And of all people, this is probably most surprising because this would be the one that you would think would always know you by your name. In fact it is even Scriptural that He knows you and calls you by name.
Yet, surprisingly, God does not look at you and see you by name.
Oh sure, God knows who you are and He knows your name, even when you may not want Him to look at you as who you really are.
For with all of the pride and the significance you have in carrying your name with you; as it turns out when it comes to God, you do not really want Him to know who you really are.
If God knew who you really were, then He might know how you sometimes use His name. If God knew who you truly were, then He might know that it was you that took His name in vain, or spoke falsely by His name. If God looked at you as you truly are, then He might know just how many sins you have attached to your name.
Your name may make you feel better, but your name does not make you clean. Your name is one marked by sin, it has been marked by death, it has been identified as one for destruction.
But as I said, God does not look at you and see your name; He sees another name.
For when God looks at your permanent record, He does not see your name, but rather He sees Jesus name.
Jesus name is a name completely different from your name. Your name has sins attached to it; Jesus name is perfect and holy. Your name is linked to thoughts and desires that are not exactly holy and righteous; Jesus name is linked to the holy Word of God. Your name can be found in places that the name of Jesus would never consider going.
And yet, when God looks at you, He does not see that sinful name that you carry around with you; instead He sees the name of Jesus that has been marked upon you. God sees the mark of the holy cross upon your forehead and He knows that you are one that Christ died for; you are one upon whom the name of Jesus has been placed.
And now when God sees your name, He does not see your name at all; He sees Jesus name.
For when God sees Jesus name, He sees Jesus perfect life, His suffering and death, and His glorious resurrection. Your name that was so attached to sin has been replaced by the perfect name of Jesus; and now you get the benefits and the rewards and the privileges that go along with that name.
And what of your sins? What of all those terrible things that were attached to your name?
Your name and your sins were taken by Jesus and crucified and died and buried.
You have been marked with the name of Jesus, and now when God sees your name, He sees Jesus.
Your ticket, your way into heaven, is not having a secret code or password, nor is it even your own name; your entrance is the name of Jesus. Jesus has come to save His people from their sins, and He does so, by giving you His very name.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! AMEN!