What is in a name?

If I am to give a title to my latest blog post, I will call it in the form of a question, ‘What is in a name?’ For the Scripture reference I have selected St.Luke’s gospel chapter 10:1-10. Jesus met Zacchaeus while passing through that great city of Jericho. Zach, a short gentleman was barking up a Sycamore tree just to get a closer glimpse, if not a better or closer view of the Lord. I am amazed at the Lord’s timing!

Recall the old Sunday School Chorus?

“Zacchaeus was a very little (wee) man, and a very little man was he

He climbed upon a sycamore tree for he wanted his Lord to see

And as the Saviour passed that way he looked up to the tree

And said, Zacchaeus, you come down, for I am coming to your house for tea”.

Can you imagine the scene? Jesus going to a Publican’s house? Ouch! The Jews hated the Publicans, perhaps understandably. The Publicans collected taxes from the Jews for the Roman Government. That speaks for itself. That was not all. It was a general practice, well established, that they not only collected the book value but also extracted more than the appraised value, which the Publicans pocketed for themselves.  Zacchaeus was a Chief Tax Collector! To make it worse, the name Zacchaeus means “pure”, or “innocent”. Can you picture the crowd snickering and joking behind his back saying “here comes the pure and innocent”!

Now picture this tax collector, probably carrying a ton of guilt and crooked baggage meeting Jesus? Jesus openly called him; “Zacchaeus- you come down; I wish to abide at your place this day”. Jesus knew something beautiful has transpired in Zacchaeus’ heart. How do we know? Listen to Zach’s testimony. “Half of my goods I am distributing to the poor. And, if I have overcharged any, falsely, I will make it up four times”! That is not the end of the story.    

Jesus was the guest and in the company of, I suppose, fellow Publicans. Jesus took the unusual opportunity and conferred on him a greatly exalted name! Let me read out to you Verse 9: “This day salvation has come to this house because this man too, is a son of Abraham”, despite his previous horrible reputation in town. I marvel at the audacity and the magnanimity of the Master conferring openly on Zach “a son of Abraham”, that highly respected Patriarch of Israel, the Father of faith !

By the way, Abraham had a name change himself.  His original name was Abram later changed to Abraham, meaning Father of Many. Continuing on name changes even Sarah had a name change, from Sarai (Genesis 17:15-16) to Sarah.

Now I come to my second point; Did you notice the Juxtaposition of verse 9? Why did Jesus select for himself that unusual title “Son of Man” for himself?  Bible Scholars surmise or conclude that Jesus adopted that name from the Old Testament, Ezekiel, ch. 1:10. I recall as a youngster thinking what a strange name? Why not an honourable name like a prophet or priest, or say son of David. etc? Mind you, Jesus the Redeemer fitted well and could have easily taken any names or all of them.

I believe Jesus purposely chose that name for himself “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10. It is right in line and right down to his Mission Statement. How could he accomplish his mission unless the Son of God (John 3:16) fully identified as a Son of Man? No wonder the religious leaders derisively called him “Is not he the carpenter’s son”  the labour class of that time ? It has not changed in many parts of the world even today!

Observe closely: Oh what an example, what a glorious  lesson for us and for the world! Again take a closer look at verses 9-10. First he lifted the despised Tax Collector to the son of the great patriarch Abraham’s son. And in the same verse Jesus humbled himself to a simple “Son of Man” a labourer. There is a great object lesson in it for all of us not excluding the Spiritual elites, the popular and the greats!  

Did he not identify as”an ordinary person, It is commonly accepted that Joseph died early and the family responsibility fell on Jesus’ shoulders – lots of labour ! Matthew wrote “And Jesus said unto him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20).

The so-called Spiritual Leaders considered and questioned  with certain degree of derision when they enquired “is not he the carpenter’s son” ? Then again he wanted to demonstrate to the whole world that his religion is not only for the privileged, rich, high and mighty wearing the phylacteries (Matthew 23:5), but for all (John 3:16). He knew and demonstrated that ordinary folks could become extraordinary.

In closing, I recall my wife Grace used to sing from her repertoire this song by Phyllis C Spiers as a solo piece way back in Calcutta, India many years ago. Let the words of this song be a fitting and a blessed hymn to end this sermon:

1.Behold what manner of man is this, Who stills the raging sea

He heals the sick, the lame, the halt, And makes the blind to see

He opens all the prison doors, And sets the captives free

Behold what manner of man is this, What manner of man is He?


He’s the Lord of Glory,     He is the great I Am

The Alpha and Omega,     The beginning and the end

His name is Wonderful,     The Prince of Peace is He

He’s the everlasting Father, Throughout eternity.


2.Behold what manner of man is this,  Who stands b’tween God and man

His eyes are as a flame of fire,  Seven stars are in His hand

John saw him in the seven churches,  As the sun in brilliancy

Behold what manner of man is this,  What manner of man is He?

3.Behold what manner of man is this,  Who healed the lame and halt

Who says “Thy sins be forgiven thee,  Take up thy bed and walk”

He stands as the mighty healer now,  And cries “Come unto me”

Behold what manner of man is this,   What manner of man is He?


3.Behold what manner of man is this,    Who sits on His heavenly throne

He rules and reigns from heaven above,  His beloved and His own

He’s the lion of the tribe of Judah, The root of David is He

Behold what manner of man is this,  What manner of man is He


God bless, Danny Paul


6 Replies to “What is in a name?”

  1. And our names are changed from sinner to righteous, from bound in sin to set free,
    from having been clothed in filthy rags to being clothed in a righteous robe or wedding garment ready to attend the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, from an estranged son/daughter to being called a child of God. To having no hope to having eternal security.

    There are many other comparisons which I am sure others can come up with.

    God’s blessings,

  2. Danny, enjoyed the message. Loved Grace’s song. Will miss both of your smiling faces at FHC. God bless you and grace. Ann Lindsay

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