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The Lord's Prayer (Lesson 4)
The Name Above Every Name | Matthew 6:9
"Hallowed be your name."
– Matthew 6:9
I love name stories.
You know what I mean. When you are introduced to someone who has a unique name, you can't help but ask, "Where did you get your name?"
What's the story?
Sometimes, the story is funny. "My parents were watching this episode of Seinfeld…" Often, there is family significance. "I'm named after my grandfather, who…"
In Bible times, especially in Old Testament Israel, names were a big deal. A name wasn't just a name. Hebrew names are like short stories that usually reveal more than meets the eye.
Names had a meaning that would reflect events surrounding the birth or embody, hopes the parents had for their child, or something potentially prophetic about their future.
For example, Abraham means "father of many" and Jacob is translated as "holder of the heel" or "supplanter."
In the Old Testament, God revealed his personal, covenantal name to Moses as Yahweh (YHWH, יהוה), which is translated most simply, "I am."
Even today, names are inextricably connected to one's identity.
For example, when we introduce a friend, we do not say, "This is a Mike," we say, "This is Mike."
It is the same with God's name.
Naming himself "I am" highlights the self-existence and self-sufficiency of the Lord. But it goes further. As the Creator-King in whom all truth, goodness, and beauty reside, as Yahweh, his name embodies the perfections of authority, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, power, justice, mercy, grace, and love.
"I am truth. I am goodness. I am wisdom." Put in whichever descriptor you'd like. Yahweh embodies its perfection.
This is why, in teaching us to pray, Jesus reminds us to "hallow" God's name.
Contemporary ears may glance over what may feel like an archaic expression. That is why we must pause here a moment to get our theological and devotional bearings.
English dictionaries define the verb hallow as "to show reverence, respect, and honor."
While that's a good start, the biblical meaning goes deeper, with a richness that's hard to describe in human language.
The original Greek word translated hallowed is hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), a verb that literally means "to set apart as holy." Of course, holy has two primary aspects. One is purity. The other is separateness. Thus, for God to be holy, he is both set apart for special honor as well as morally perfect in every attribute. We could say to "hallow" God's name is to place him above all else–in a league of his own so to speak.
Therefore, praying "hallowed be your name" it is not for God's ears as much as it is for our minds and hearts to be reminded of a critical spiritual reality: our Father is perfect in every way.
Is he wise? Perfectly.
Is he trustworthy? Perfectly.
Is he good? Perfectly.
Is he just? Perfectly.
Is he loving? Perfectly.
Is he merciful? Perfectly.
Is he sovereign? Perfectly.
The college where my children have attended has a motto: In All Things, Christ Preeminent.
Synonyms for preeminent include words such as ultimate, transcendent, and peerless. Each captures a nuance of what it means to set apart for special honor the name of God, which in the Old Testament was revealed as Yahweh and in the New Testament as Jesus.
Not only did Jesus apply the "I am" designation to himself, saying, "Before Abraham was, I am," he was given a name that tells a story.
In Matthew 1:21, the angel tells Mary's husband, Joseph, to name the child Jesus. Why? Because the name Jesus means, literally, "Yahweh (the LORD) saves."
In case Joseph missed the translation, the angel says to name him Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins."
Even as names are inextricably connected to identity, Jesus’ name is inextricably associated with the cross.
In view of the cross, the invitation of the Son echoes the heart of the Father: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Indeed, Jesus is Yahweh in the flesh. His is the name above every name.
To hallow the Father is to worship the Son as we recognize and honor the work of the Spirit within us–the one who gives us the ability to confess Jesus as Savior and Lord, as we celebrate and savor him as our greatest Treasure in whom our names find redemption.
In the words of John Newton's well-known hymn,
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear,
It soothes our sorrows, heals these wounds, and drives away our fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast.
'Tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary, rest.
Why are names so closely connected to one’s identity?
What is the story behind your name?
What does it mean to "hallow" God's name?
In what ways does God's name embody the perfections of authority, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, power, justice, mercy, grace, and love?
How does the name "Jesus" tell a story about God's plan for salvation, and what does it mean for our lives?
Thank you for revealing yourself to us through your name, which embodies the perfections of authority, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, power, justice, mercy, grace, and love. We recognize that you are perfect in every way, and we desire to honor and respect you as our Creator and King. Help us to set apart your name as holy in our hearts and minds, and to worship you with our whole being.
We thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins and make us part of your family.
We pray that we would live in light of this truth and honor your name in all that we do.
For we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
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My deep desire is for these lessons to help your family come alive to the wonder, beauty, and transforming power of God’s grace in the crucified, risen, and reigning Jesus. 🙏
Yours, by grace alone,