As (Jesus) stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. (Luke 8:27-30 NRSV)
Isn’t it interesting that the first question Jesus asks this poor man is, “What is your name?” Certainly the man was extremely crazed, under guard and bound in chains, with a terrible mental illness often overtaking him. But, as always, Jesus knew what he was doing. Perhaps in asking the man his name, Jesus had a better sense of what particular illness this man had. In Greek, the words that Jesus asks are written as, “What to you a name is?” To this man, a fitting name was “Legion” for he had many demons within. Jesus then healed the man by removing the demons from him (in a crazy way, as you may already know)!
When I journal each day, I ask God, “What would you have me know?” But I choose adjectives or other descriptive words for God, as well as words for myself, that clarify what I am seeking or the condition of my soul each morning. These adjectives help me to name my specific needs and foster my earnest listening for the answers. One day I began, “God of my angry and anxious heart, what would you have me know today?” I then addressed myself the way I felt God saw me: “Distraught Karen…” While writing these meditations, I often used “Inspiring God” and “Seeking Karen.”
When we name our specific needs with Jesus, we more readily open ourselves to notice his help and his answers. Jesus can help or heal, inspire or infuse, motivate or madden, listen or laugh, strengthen or stretch, comfort or co-create. We can help to direct our discernment and increase our awareness of his specific work in us, when we describe the state of our souls with a fitting and descriptive name.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “What is your name?”
What name would you choose to describe your soul these days? Weary? Excited? Do you feel like Legion- do you have too much on your mind? Have you been called names that hurt you, that you still carry with you? Do you describe yourself with names that diminish or impede your growth? Is there a new name you would like Jesus to call you? What would you like to receive from Jesus today?
What is your name?