In the last chapter of Romans (chapter 16), Paul specifically names at least 27 people who he sends greetings to. Paul doesn’t have a list like this at the end of any of his other letters, so it’s quite remarkable that he includes this list here. We don’t even know how or when he met most of these people. But he knows them by name. He takes the time to acknowledge in writing that they’ve been co-workers in ministry with him in some way. He uses the word “Greet” – greet so and so. The KJV says “Salute”. Of course, Paul doesn’t mean to salute people with a military salute! The word means to draw them to yourself. Embrace them. Literally, it means give them a bear hug! In v16 he goes on to say greet one another with a holy kiss.
Many cultures greet each other with a kiss on the cheek – a more intimate greeting than shaking hands. Although our greeters in the foyer might not kiss you on the cheek, they’ll give you a handshake, or a hug and a pat on the back. That’s what Paul means here with the word “Greet”. It’s a warm, endearing embrace that says “thank you” for being a part of my life and serving the Lord with me.
And Paul greets them by name. How do you feel when you go somewhere new and people remember your name? When someone remembers your name, it shows that they noticed you… that they remember you… that they took the time to memorize your name and put it with a face. That’s impressive. That means something. It shows they valued you as a person. You know what? Jesus calls you by name. Jesus values you enough to see you, notice you, and remember your name. He knows your name.
I find this very powerful to me personally. I think it’s because in the huge scheme of things, and the billions upon billions of people who are in this world – and who have ever lived and who ever will live – I’m pretty insignificant. Really, I’m just one of the trillions of grains of sand of Abraham’s descendants – a speck of sand in the universe. But that’s okay because Jesus knows my name. I’m just a guy who Jesus showered with grace and love and forgiveness none of which I deserve. The God of the Universe knows your name! The Creator of heaven and earth knows your name! And when you meet Jesus face to face and he calls your name, you will be touched in the very core of your being. The Gospel of John records that after Jesus resurrected from the dead, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb that same morning. She stood outside the tomb where Jesus had been laid. She was distraught, weeping. She turned around and saw a man who she thought was the gardener. She asked him where they might have taken Jesus. And then, all of a sudden, the man says her name. “Mary.” And her mind was opened, and she saw Jesus standing there. All it took was for Jesus to call her name. When Jesus calls you by name, that is powerful. May your name be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Pastor Randy