The pages of Holy Scripture open and you read names. Names associated with acts of faith, devoted service, or a heinous response from unbelief. In God’s inspired Word, names are recorded and preserved over the course of centuries. What about your name?
“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13, Mark 14:9)
Have you ever wondered about the names recorded in the Bible? What’s their story? What were they like?
Names are found in the long list of genealogy recorded in Matthew from Adam to Christ.
There are names Paul refers to in his epistles.
Names of faith. Names of betrayal.
Names of people who provided great support for the early Christian church.
Names of political and religious leaders.
Names of people who were enemies.
I wonder about their stories.
What was their journey of faith? What about those who turned away from Jesus when he didn’t meet their expectations of the long-awaited Messiah?
Did they ever come back?
Names are important.
There is are two stories about names that stands out for me.
One story that includes an act of great faith that is immediately followed by a story with an act of great betrayal.
One woman. Her act defines faithfulness.
One man. One of the twelve whose name defines utter betrayal.
When she came into the room of a religious leader holding an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume, I imagine the conversations stopped and curious glances followed her footsteps.
And then something unfathomable happened.
She began pouring perfume on the head of Christ.
The religious leaders were aghast.
The disciples were indignant.
If they knew beforehand what she was up to, they probably would have tried to stop her.
Her wasteful extravagance could have been better used elsewhere.
But Jesus knew.
He knew about the disciple’s confusion. He knew what the woman – whom John’s gospel refers to as Mary, the sister of Lazarus – was up to.
Still, the words and actions of Jesus were a mystery to the disciples. They were soon going to go to sleep on the night Jesus needed them to be awake. One was even going to deny him three times.
And one was going to betray him.
And that’s what happened immediately after the woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ head.
Perhaps her wasteful act was the last straw that prompted action. Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests and negotiates a deal to betray Jesus. (Mark 14:10-11, Matthew 26:14-15)
Judas Iscariot. A name recorded in history for his act of betrayal against our Savior.
A woman. An act recorded and to be remembered whenever the gospel is preached.
Acts of faithfulness and unfaithfulness forever etched in history until Jesus comes again.
What about believers today?
Names of the faithful have been recorded in the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
The names of the faithful are being recorded today in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
When the pages open and the names are read, this is the book that believers want their names to be seen and heard.
Resting in Christ’s assurances that our sins are full forgiven, believers focus on what’s eternal rather than what is temporal. They look upon afflictions in life for what they are – a by-product of living in a sinful world. Faith provides them with vision that is heaven-directed and looks upon this world as momentary and fleeting compared to the greatness of eternal life in heaven.
Faith alone etches their name in the Book of Life.
There is another document floating around that has the names of souls who trust in God’s promises.
They are letters of recommendation from God.
In today’s world, they are Facebook posts from the King of Kings with your picture on it.
They are tweets from God the Almighty with your address and the hashtags #approvedbyGod #justifiedbyfaith #redeemed #fullyforgiven.
“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant.“ (ESV – 2 Corinthians 3:2-6)
Names recorded by God serve an important purpose. They are recorded in Scripture for our benefit. They are preserved on record for eternal life. And it is his name believers go under to proclaim the gospel with all authority from the new covenant established with us.
Believers are a living and breathing letter of recommendation from God. Set apart from the beginning, granted authority to be his ambassadors in his name, believers can’t help but display his seal and reveal the contents of the letter to all people. We are redeemed. We are sealed with his righteousness. Fill with his sufficient grace, we are sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant.
Mary could have been intimidated when she entered the room full of Jesus’ disciples and religious leaders. She felt the stares.
In Christ’s presence, love drives out fear.
And she will be remembered whenever the gospel is preached.
Filled with his presence, perfect love substitutes timidity and feelings of intimidation with power and love.
We anoint Jesus with our most precious resource that we can offer to the world. Our time. Our words. Our reason for the hope that we have in Christ.
And God will remember our acts prompted by love, our works produced by faith, and our words that unsheathe the power of the Holy Spirit so that precious souls may be saved.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)