Joe Theismann had a very successful NFL career playing quarterback for the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) for twelve seasons. He led them to two Super Bowls, and was an all-pro. At Notre Dame he set several records, and had a 20-3-2 record as a starter. He was in contention for the Heisman trophy in 1971, when Notre Dame publicity man Roger Valdiserri insisted he should begin pronouncing his name to rhyme with Heisman (as he still pronounces it today), although he had always pronounced his name “Theesman.” The ploy did not work, as he came in second in the voting behind Jim Plunkett of Stanford.
I suppose many of us would change our names if it meant fame and fortune for us. Biblical name changes have had much more significance, however. At the age of ninety-nine, Abram who fell on his face before the LORD, as the LORD said, “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee” (Genesis 17:4-6). With God’s renewal of the promised blessing, Abram, “exalted father,” becomes Abraham, “father of many nations.”
After a night wrestling with the angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name meant “supplanter,” or “deceiver” became Israel, “Prince of God.” The father of the twelve patriarchs was a changed man, with a new outlook.
Other significant name changes include Joses, renamed Barnabas, “son of consolation,” or “son of encouragement,” by the apostles (Acts 4:36), and Simon, called Cephas, or Peter, “a stone,” by Jesus (John 1:42).
Seeing the age of the coming Messiah, the prophet predicted, “the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name” (Isaiah 62:2). Peter commanded, “if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) Since that time only those who have obeyed Him may rightfully wear this new name. Do you wear the name Christian? Does your life bring honor to this name?