• Susan Eaton

Do You See What I See?


Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 both record the events leading up to and surrounding the birth of Jesus. Each year at this time, the birth narratives of Jesus are proclaimed in churches all over the world. If you’ve grown up in church, then you are likely very familiar with these passages.

I know I am.

Not only have I heard these passages my whole life, I’ve also preached a number of sermons and taught from them many times. And yet, it was just this past week that I noticed a beautiful detail I’ve never seen before. It’s a detail that seems to have been purposefully woven into the story—placed there like an Easter egg, so-to-speak— but hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be seen.

Are you ready to see it?

Awesome!

Then I invite you to stop right now and read Luke 1 (yes, all of it), and Matthew 1:18-25. No rush. I’ll be right here waiting for you.

……….

All done? Great!

These passages contain the amazing account of ordinary people encountering our more than extraordinary God.

Zechariah

Elizabeth

John

Mary

Joseph

And, of course, let’s not forget the star of the show, Jesus.

As I was reading these passages again, I began thinking about what each name means. I knew some, but not others, so I began to do a little research. Here’s what I found:

Zechariah means “Yahweh Remembers.”

Elizabeth means “God’s Oath” or “Promise of God.”

Do you see what I see?

“Yahweh remembers His promise.”

Elizabeth gives birth to the child they had longed for, and he is named John which means,

"Yahweh is gracious.”

Together we see,

"Yahweh is gracious to remember His promise."

Mary, whose name means “Wished-for Child”, (that one gave me chills) conceives, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a son whose name will be Jesus, “Yahweh Saves”

Do you see what I see?

“Through the wished-for child, Yahweh saves.”

Then there’s Joseph whose name means,

“Yahweh will give increase.”

As I thought about the meaning of his name, it occurred to me that, even though Joseph is definitely a Jewish man, and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus, and, therefore, not an outsider in that way, he is the ONLY one in this group of people who is not a blood relative of anybody else in the group.

Zechariah is the father of John.

Elizabeth is the mother of John.

Mary and Elizabeth are cousins.

Mary is the mother of Jesus.

Joseph, however, isn’t related to anyone. In fact, he is not even related to the child he is about to be raising as his son! As I thought about that fact, along with the meaning of his name, it made me think about us Gentiles who've been adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ. God’s ultimate plan is that ALL would be brought into the family. Christ came so that the world would be saved—not just the nation of Israel—the whole world. Those outside will be brought in.

“Yahweh will give increase.”

So, do you see what I see?

Do you see the story within the story?

It’s the story of God’s loving intention for the world told through the names of the people He chose to be a part of his greatest act of salvation ever.

Yahweh is gracious to remember His promise.

Through the wished-for child, Yahweh saves.

Yahweh will give increase.

This is God’s heart beautifully woven within the fabric of the narrative. I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before, but now that I have, I’ll never see these passages the same way again. And I will be in awe every time I read them of my God who includes such beauty, intricacy, and purpose in all that He does.

Praise be to God!

Merry Christmas!

*Quick note about this post: A few days before all of this occurred to me, I was painting the new shelves in our living room. I found all that alone time a great opportunity to pray. At one point during my prayer time I said to God, "Lord, tell me something new about You that I don't know. Tell me more about You." I held that prayer in my heart, and a few days later, all of this occurred to me. I thank God for truly being gracious to me. Do you want to know God more deeply? Tell Him, then make yourself available to Him. He loves to speak to His children.


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©2019 | Rev. Susan Eaton