A local sportscaster, doing radio coverage of an Indiana high-school football game from the stands, used a chart listing the names, numbers, and positions of the players to help him describe the action. Then it began to rain; the ink on the chart ran, and the numbers on the backs of the players were covered with mud. Identifying the home-team players was easy, but the only familiar name on the lineup of the visiting Chicago team was that of Blansky, a linebacker who was up for all-state. As local listeners didn’t know the Chicago players, and his station wasn’t powerful enough to reach Chicago, the sportscaster made up the names of every Chicago player but Blansky. And since Blansky was the only legitimate name, he did his play-by-play with Blansky making most of the tackles.
The next day, the Chicago coach called him to say he had done a really nice job of covering the game, except for one thing. Blansky had broken his leg in the first half and spent the second half in the hospital, listening to himself playing the game of his life. A name can bring such expectations, can’t it?
In my family my sister is the one who is most interested in our genealogy. In every family there usually exists someone who is more interested in genealogy than the rest. Those are the ones who chronicle the family history. We all come from somewhere. It’s important to know that, isn’t it? We all have a heritage.
How is your name? What is it that people remember you for? Is it a good name or a bad name? Or is it just your name?
A 200-year-old church was being readied for an anniversary celebration when calamity struck: the bell ringer was called out of town. The sexton immediately advertised for another.
When the replacement arrived, the sexton took him to the steps leading to the bell tower, some 150 feet above them. Round and round they went, huffing and puffing all the way. Just as they reached the landing, the bell ringer tripped and fell face-first into the biggest bell of all. Bo-o-o-o-ong!
Dazed by the blow, the bell ringer stumbled backward onto the landing. The railing broke loose and he fell to the ground. Miraculously, he was unhurt – only stunned – but the sexton thought it best to call an ambulance.
‘Do you know this man’s name?”” asked the doctor when he arrived.
The sexton looked at the man and tried to remember without luck. ‘No,”” the he replied, ‘but his face sure rings a bell.””
I do wonder sometimes how I will be remembered. My name means “blessed,” among other definitions, but the meaning isn’t what defines me. Rather, the my name is a connection to a whole lot of other in my family line. It’s a connection to my heritage – some of which is good and some of which is bad. That heritage means something. For me, my heritage doesn’t hold me back or give me much of a leg up. People and don’t hear my name and say, “Look out for this one, He’s got great expectations upon him for he bears a special name and heritage.” They also don’t say, “Look out for this one, he’s bound to be a rat just like all the rest of that crazy family.” And if they did, I’d just tell them Blansky did it. For some, a name can be a hindrance and for some a blessing.
Early twentieth century evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”
In Matthew 15:22 Jesus was called by a name of great significance – one that showed great connection and promise. Let’s take a look, starting in verse 21: “21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus had many names and we’re exploring many of them in our daily devotional journeys this Advent season. This morning’s devotional explores the name “Son of David” and points to the heritage of Jesus. It points to his lineage that marks him as one came from the kingly line of David. Jesus came from somewhere. He has a human heritage as well as a Godly one.
This human heritage of Jesus is very important as the Gospel writers are establishing that Jesus is the Messiah. Coming from the line of David is a major prophecy fulfilled. We read earlier this morning from Jeremiah 23:5-6 where a major messianic prophecy occurs. It says, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’” Matthew is making sure we understand that Jesus is the righteous branch of David – and don’t underestimate the importance of the word “righteous” in there. Our heritage can say a lot about us. It was important for Jesus to have a certain human heritage in order to fulfill prophecy. It was proof of who He was.
Christmas is a time of tradition and a time of exploring our heritage. For all the new stuff that comes out every year and for all the new generations it still comes down to where we come from. Where we are now does not determine who we are, despite what we may want to believe. When I was young I wanted to think I was different. I was the new model. I was new and improved. I wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes my parents may have made. I was here and now. Now I’m a few years older. In fact, I’ll soon be referred to as “middle-aged.” Now I can tell you that I’m glad I came from somewhere. I find comfort in participating my family’s traditions. Even our new traditions wouldn’t be what they are without the past being the past.
Our traditions connect us with the past. They connect us with our heritage and help define who we are, good or bad. Jesus had a human heritage that defined who He was and what He was here to do. Who knew a name could mean so much?
Jesus also had a Godly heritage. “Son of David” defines a human relationship to the line of David but Jesus was also called “Son of God.” It is this Godly line that holds so much importance for you and I today. It is this Godly heritage that He has passed down to us. We are now of a new bloodline.
At age 16 Andor Foldes was already a skilled pianist, but he was experiencing a troubled year. In the midst of the young Hungarian’s personal struggles, one of the most renowned pianists of the day came to Budapest. Emil von Sauer was famous not only for his abilities; he was also the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann. When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead. “My son,” he said, “when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, ‘Take good care of this kiss, it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.’ I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, but now I feel you deserve it.”
We have a new heritage as Christians. A very special heritage has been passed down to us through the Divine bloodline of Jesus. In Romans 8:14-16 Paul reminds us, “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
When people see us coming they would do well to say, “Look out for this one, he has great potential because he comes from a royal bloodline.” The only question left for us today is this: who’s heritage are you going to live up to? Will you live by your heritage or the heritage of Jesus? The Son of David offered his life so that you and I can be called Sons of God.