Everyone who encountered Jesus underwent dramatic transformations – what they were called changed forever.
The angel of the Lord narrates how Elizabeth who was called barren was now with child.
“and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.” Luke 1:36
Mary cries out in joy, “For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”Luke 1:46
Mary now calls herself blessed.
Zacharias’ son was not to be called Zacharias, after his father, but called John. Not just the son of a priest, but the prophet of the most High God. While Zacharias means ‘Yah has remembered,’ John meant ‘Jehovah is gracious giver.’ John was to point out to the most gracious gift of the Lord – His son Jesus.
Everyone’s name changed. A name represented their identity and calling.
What do you call yourself?
While others would have pitied Elizabeth and called her barren, it was she who called herself barren more than anyone. It is what you call yourself in your head.
We often resign ourselves to our worst situation – if we are jobless, that is what we call ourselves. To the worst feeling – depression, so we call ourselves depressed. Lonely, helpless, useless, hopeless, and so on.
Or by our profession, or even worse – our physical appearance: ‘fatty,’ ‘bakki'(very slim), ‘kaaloo’ (blacky) are so familiar.
This is what Mary was to call her son:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”
Jesus, who was called the Son of God, forever changed what you and I will be called.
It is His birth, death and resurrection that wrecked our birth certificates. His identity changed mine forever.
We are called “born of God”
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become SONS of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ” John 1:12,13
The word ‘become’ is from ‘ginomai’ which means : to cause to be, regenerate, to come into being, to come into existence.
Like how Adam was directly born of God, and Jesus was, so are we. You’re not a second generation Christian, or a grandson of God – you are directly, born of God – the source of your origin is God Himself.
What a privilege! What an honour!
- Not sinner, but saint
“Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints. Rom 1:6 (1 Cor 1:2)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8
‘Were’ means I am not that anymore. If I was a sinner then, what am I now? Now I’m called a saint, I’m called righteous – my identity has changed.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
That word ‘become’ (be made) is the same used for ‘become’ in John 1:12 – become sons of God!
Stop calling yourself something Jesus would not. He became sin, so I could become righteous.
Whatever you call yourself, that is what you will become.
Keep yourself depressed and you end up being depressed. Keep calling yourself a loser, and you always find yourself losing. Keep calling yourself sick, and you keep feeling and getting more sick. Keep calling yourself a sinner, and you keep on sinning. Keep calling yourself righteous, and you will start living righteous.
I’m no longer called guilty, but righteous;
I’m no longer called punishable, but forgiven
I’m no longer called a commoner, but a king!
And here’s my favorite, heart-wrenching one of all:
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
The actual meaning there is slaves and not servants – of a bondman.
Here in lies the heart of God: that He sent Jesus, as a Son of Man, so we can now be called sons of God. Beloved, we are not slaves, we are sons. (Rom 8)
Not called slaves, but sons, and friends
If there is one sure thing that differentiates a slave from a friend, it is this: a slave does not know what’s in the heart of the Father, but a friend does. No doubt God shared his heart out with his friends Abraham, David and Moses – these saints knew His heart, and God shared with them His deepest feelings.
Religion has beaten us up to think that we can never know what’s in the mind of God, that He is this cruel man upstairs who does whatever he wishes, and wrecks havoc in our lives, and loves us too, and all the havoc is in the name of love! Such a bi-polar view of God!
Paul takes the much quoted “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” and normally we end that verse thinking ‘we can never know what plans God has for us.’ But Paul turns that end into a bend, with:
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. …
… For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:9-16)
Wow, if that offends you, then you are still relating to God as a slave, who does not have the right or audacity to even know what the master is thinking.
Martha thought Jesus wanted great hospitality and food, Mary knew the one thing that was required. She knew the heart of God.
Bill Johnson says that the greatest treasure we have as friends, is access to the heart of the Father. Selah …
I don’t know how your 2015 was, and what you kept calling yourself – still single, widowed, barren, forever sick, unhappy, lonely, unloved, confused, broke, poor, mediocre, commoner, slave …
This Christmas, can you hear the heartbeat of the Father?
I wonder how I’d feel if my daughter calls me by my title as preacher, writer or ma’m, instead of mamma.
The Father looks upon us to see if we will call ourselves what He calls us: His sons and friends. And if we can finally say “our Father” instead of always “our Lord and Master.”
While we celebrate His birth, be conscious to celebrate yours too; and whenever you read what Jesus was called, remember He changed what you were called forever!
(This is part of the message I preached earlier at our Christmas service.)