My name is Thomas Perrin Thompson. I am named after a great uncle with the exact same name who was a former mayor of Norfolk and well-known architect. He died before I was born. I like my name but do not feel any particular connection to it. My brother nicknamed me when I was very young, “The Amazing Zud.” I don’t exactly know where he got that from, but I always felt empowered by it, as if I could do anything when I heard it. Nicknames, in particular, can be cruel or incredibly precious.

In biblical times, names were much more significant than they are now. Names often told a story of how you came to be, like Isaac, which means he laughs. Abraham laughed when God told him he would have a child by Sarah. He was 100 years old. She was 90 years old. Esau means “hairy” because he was, well, hairy. Jacob’s name implies he was deceitful. Later God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means, “he struggles with God”, because he “struggled with God and with men and overcame.” Examples are throughout the Old Testament. Names in the Old Testament were almost always significant.

Something interesting happens with names when Jesus comes along. Jesus gave nicknames to reflect who a person will become. Jesus calls Simon, “Peter”, which means “rock.” At the time, Peter was anything but a rock. He was more of a loose cannon. When Jesus nicknamed Simon, Peter, he gave him a vision and calling of who he would become. Peter became the rock of the early church.

Then the book of Revelation takes names a step further. Jesus tells John in the grand vision, “To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” That verse has always fascinated me – a special name given to each person from Jesus, only known to that person. I know it is speculation but what name do you imagine Jesus might give you? Might it be a reflection of some strength that He will grow in you from your greatest weakness? Might he take the person plagued by anxiety and name them “Trusting.” Or the person who tends towards cruelty and name them “Kind.”  What nagging weakness in you might Jesus want to turn into your greatest strength – your new name? What story of brokenness might Jesus want to turn into a new name of healing? What name would you most want to hear come from Jesus’ lips to your ears?

Names are powerful. Your name is powerful. Even more, the name that Jesus will one day give to you will be freedom and life for you. Imagine – what will that name be?