Why do people like to hear their own name? I did a search on that question, and was not surprised by the first entry I encountered, “a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”1 Hmm … true? Do you like to hear your name, spoken especially by someone you love?
How about God knowing and speaking your name? Has God ever spoken your name? If he did…would you hear it? And would you know it was God speaking to you? Let's go back to the empty tomb where Mary Magdalene’s name is spoken, and what it meant—recognition, position and relationship.
Take a look at the passage from John 20: “Then they [Peter and John] went home. Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there.
It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.” verses 10-18
The scene - Mary Magdalene weeping just outside the tomb of Jesus, upset about the notion of where the body of her Lord may have been taken. Someone comes on the scene, and while she is fully aware of his presence, assumes it is the groundskeeper--that is, until ... he speaks her name. Then she recognizes her Lord. Maybe she hadn’t recognized him because her eyes were clouded by her tears … maybe because she only had her course set toward the empty tomb and nothing else, that is, until … he spoke her name. Jesus’ recognition of her—as well as his intent that she knows him—changed everything.
Remember the young boy, Samuel, who heard God’s voice in the night?2 Powerful stuff right there. When Jesus spoke Mary Magdalene’s name, she knew … recognition dawned. She knew it was her Lord, she knew she was safe; she knew what surely lay in store for her because God had spoken her name.
When God speaks your name, it gets your attention. When God speaks your name, you surely know who you are … or who you are meant to become. I pray you will hear when God speaks your name. Truly, it changes everything.
A song drives it home: You know my name https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arkODiRZ1fg
Another take by the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-vz-EWiIsY
[Funny thing, two weeks before this was recorded at Brooklyn Tabernacle, I was
worshipping there, along with a group of folks I was leading on a tour to Israel...
good, good stuff. The congregation, the choir is such a beautiful representation
of what Heaven will look like! And in Heaven, we will regularly hear our Father
speak our names!]
1 - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
2 - 1 Samuel 3.8