It was enough for me to struggle in my study with Hebrew, if only to discover that Jesus’ name means “The Lord makes room.” I shared my discovery with “our homeless friends” in a recent morning devotion. It is not uncommon for someone to interrupt, if not challenge me during these devotions. “If that is true,” exclaimed one of our worshippers, “that changes everything!”
Yes, it does. This is why Luke, the gospel writer, plays with that name in telling Jesus’s story. He says they laid Jesus in a manger, because there was “no place for them in the inn.” The baby Jesus grows up to befriend any and all with no place, making a place for them at his table. Everyone has a place with Jesus.
Once Jesus visited the home of Zaccheus, a man without any friends. He was a sinner, a tax collector. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus announced. He was playing with the name salvation, which was also Jesus’ name. “Today the Lord makes a place at your house, Zacchaeus!”
As we enter this holy season, we are named as God’s beloved, baptized as we are in Jesus’ name. There is no place we can be but that God, the Lord, makes room for us.
Wherever your place, that is God’s place, too. This is our Christmas joy of Jesus, Emmanuel, the Word-made-flesh, who dwells among us in grace and truth.
And, that, dear friends, changes everything.
Pastor Steve Klemz
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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1070 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108