Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
What’s in a name? Your name? Everything! It’s almost as important as your Social Security Number, your credit report. Once your name’s trashed, you’re ruined. It’s hard to come back from a lie, a rumor, a truth! What’s in a name? God’s name? Jesus. “The LORD saves.” God’s name: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Given to you in your Baptism. There everything of God, given to you in His name. What’s in name? Your neighbor’s name? Yes, their name, too. Actually, them before you.
((2. Reputation is a gift.))
I don’t really need to spend time talking about the benefit and blessing of having a good name. Good reputation is something very important. Even the world knows this. It’s why there are libel and slander laws. You can’t trash someone’s good name with a lie. You can’t lie about someone in newspapers or magazines to hurt their good name—libel. You can’t lie about someone by what you say either—slander. That’s the only thing the world’s concerned about, because if it’s true, well then, the 24-hour news media will play that as often as they can.
We know this very well…about ourselves. We’re concerned about our name, our reputation. If someone spreads lies about, we’re angry, if someone starts a rumor, we’re hurt. We, like the world, so often only care about reputation and this Commandment when it involves us. Outside of that, we turn a blind eye to this Commandment.
We forget so much. We forget that the Eighth Commandment is about our neighbor first, not us. We forget that cherishing the Commandment because it benefits you is not yet actually cherishing the Commandment. We forget that the Commandments turn us outward—make us die, die to ourselves. We forget to worry about the trashing of a good name done “against our neighbor.” We forget to speak up or keep quiet. We forget what we did or didn’t say. We forget that the truth can be more damaging than a lie. Consider Jesus: He was condemned for saying He is the Son of God—the truth! We forget that whatever hurts our neighbor’s reputation breaks this Commandment. We forget to let our ears be a grave for the words, rumors, gossip that would surely bring death to our neighbor or his good name. All such forgetting is our sin, and our rejection of this Commandment for the sake of our own name.
((2. God’s Name alone is good.))
God’s name is good. It’s good when He doesn’t forget this Commandment, when He cherishes it even on the cross: “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.” What don’t they know? That they’re crucifying someone they railroaded into guilt? That they’re crucifying someone who by miracle showed He was from God? That they’re crucifying someone who claimed to be the God of the Old Testament?That they’re crucifying someone who said they’d crucify Him? That they’re crucifying someone who said He’d rise again? That they’re crucifying someone who never did anything wrong? No, they knew all those things!
Crucifying Jesus is a win, win for the religious leaders. If He’s a liar, they got a blasphemer; if He speaks the truth, God’s free grace is gotten rid of. Sin makes mankind insane. Sin curves us so much inward on ourselves that when God shows up, the only Person who is 110% turned outward toward the neighbor, we kill Him. But in spite of that: mercy, “best construction,” love, and forgiveness: “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.”
God’s name is good also in His forgetting. God forgets! All the lies of mankind are bottled up in Him, all the truth, too! Whatever destroys His neighbor’s good name (yours and your neighbor’s) He becomes. He suffers the shame of it all. He sheds His blood as a liar for liars. He dies for gossip and rumors. He forgets, has to—braindead in the tomb. All sins are forgotten by Him. Only new life, perfect righteousness come out of the tomb when this “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is raised from the dead.
((1. The Christian life is one of love, mercy, and forgiveness.))
God “good names” you. He gives you His name and all that He’s done for you in Holy Baptism. There you and your Old Adam died, and there you rose again as new creation in Christ. Now, you no longer live, but Christ lives within you. His cherishing of the 8th Commandment is your cherishing of the 8th Commandment. Baptism points you in the direction of God’s love and forgiveness for you. Demonstrated at in His death at Calvary, delivered at the font. The 8th Commandment points you in the direction of your Baptism, the direction of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness—outward through you.
Jesus’ merciful loving-kindness is directed outward from Him through you. We speak truth against what is false because we’ve been named with the Lord who is Truth. We forgive what’s true since the truth damages our neighbor because what they’ve done or said is sin and they actually said or did it. Through you the Lord covers whatever your neighbor does or says with His very own love and mercy. Jesus died for the sins we all do “daily and much.” And the people in your life are those for whom Christ died. He shed His blood for them, and wants their reputation, their actions, their words covered with mercy and love.
And so, the life of a Christian is the life of being a “little Christ.” That’s what “Christian” means: “little Christ.” That’s baptism: you in Christ, Christ in you. Christ bore our sins, covered them with His blood, and buried them in His tomb, and we live that baptismal life. We bear our neighbor’s sins, and with blood, sweat, and tears cover them as if they were our own. We bury what they’ve done or said. We bury whatever rumor or gossip is circulating about them. We lock it up tight in the grave of our ears, and the only thing that comes out of our mouth is mercy, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, love, to cover their guilt and shame, as Jesus did with you in Holy Baptism.
To be baptized is to have God’s own name. You were baptized into that name. We don’t care about our own name. We have His name upon our foreheads. No matter what happens to us, His name is bright and glorious, unfading, eternal, and that’s what we have in Baptism. If our neighbor is unbeliever, we want them to have that name, but at least we can cover them (what they do or say) with love and mercy. If our neighbor is a Christian, we don’t want them or their name trashed because they, too, have the name of God. To trash their name, gossip it about, rumor mill it to dust and ashes, is to do that with God’s own name. The name He gave them and you in Holy Baptism.
God desires all mankind to locate their good name in His name. He kills us and raises us in baptism to be the vehicles of His love and mercy and forgiveness to those around us. “Fervent love toward one another” is God’s baptismal life. That’s who God is. He is merciful, loving, forgiving, and kind towards you, His neighbor. He is condemned for the truth as a liar. He dies for sins and lies. He covers sinners with His good name, forgiving them from the cross. He locates His good name in the font to deliver it to all the nations. To have His Father’s baptized children be “good namers,” to silence lies and cover sins.
OUR GOOD NAME IS LOCATED IN GOD’S GOOD NAME. That’s the 8th Commandment. Reputation is certainly a good gift in this life, and it certainly is part of our daily bread. What’s in a name? A whole lot! But more important than worldly reputation is that God gives His name to His people. His desire is to have His good name be your good name, and it is! In Holy Baptism God placed His name upon you, upon all of us here tonight. No matter what, OUR GOOD NAME IS LOCATED IN GOD’S GOOD NAME.
Your good name—good gift. God’s good name—great gift. Both come together in the 8th Commandment, in the Font of Holy Baptism where God’s good name was given to you to make your name good in His sight. GOD’S GOOD NAME both to you and through you—that’s Baptism. That’s the 8th Commandment.
“Let each his lesson learn with care, and all the household well shall fare.”
INI + AMEN.