Maximus had been taken into slavery and became a Gladiator. He is ultimately taken to Rome to fight in the great Coliseum and wins the hearts of the blood thirsty mob for his valor and fighting skill.
The evil emperor, Commodus, thought Maximus was dead and forgotten. He goes to the Coliseum floor before the throngs to meet the great Gladiator, Maximus, whose face is always covered by his helmet. The ensuing conversation moves me to my core…
Commodus: “Why doesn’t the hero reveal himself and tell us his real name? You do have a name?”
Maximus: “My name is Gladiator.” (Turns and starts to walk away.)
“How dare you show your back to me! Slave! You will remove your helmet and tell me your name!”
Maximus takes off his helmet, turns and faces the evil Commodus. In quiet, determined words, he tells his name, his TRUE identity:
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the armies of the north. General of the Felix legions. Loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life, or the next.”
Utterly shocked to find Maximus alive, Commodus’ words falter. His troops draw swords to slay the Gladiators, but the Coliseum erupts in unison, “Live, live, live…”
The devious, scheming Commodus realizes he is politically and ethically trapped in the eyes of Rome, at least for the moment, so he reluctantly turns his thumb up to show the gladiator will live to fight another day.
Commodus walks from the arena while the Coliseum explodes in cheers, not for the evil emperor, but the gladiator slave as the chant begins…”Maximus, Maximus, Maximus!”
Maximus knew his own name!
Knew his purpose!
Knew his reason to exist!
What a great thing to know your own name!!
Jesus talked to His disciples in Matthew 16:13-16:
Jesus asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Peter knew Jesus, knew His name, knew His purpose! Immediately in Matthew 16:18, Jesus turns around and tells Peter his name and purpose!
Jesus calls you by your name too! He wants you to know your reason for existence! For if YOU don’t know your name, you don’t know your purpose! And if you don’t know your purpose, you don’t know why you even exist!
Know your name!
The Bible tells us part of our name already — Light. Salt. Truth. Witness. Servant. Mighty. In the world, but not of the world. Hating sin, but loving the sinner. And much, much more!
Some of our name is our own unique gifting and talents. Some of our name is what God has placed in our heart by interests, skills and abilities to use for a lifetime. Some of our name is our duties as a person living today in this time, this age.
It all combines to make our unique purpose for the name God gave each of us that is as unique as a snowflake. There is NO ONE that can be, do or replace what YOU are supposed to do! No one!!
We are all slaves, one way or another, a slave.
Either I am a a slave chained to the world, or I’m a servant slave freed by God. My name, my purpose, my reason for existence is ALL determined by WHOM I choose to serve.
So, slave, what is your name?
My name is Jeffrey Dan Rab, a husband to Janet, father to eight, backup father figure to three, grandfather to nine, a son, brother, uncle and nephew. I am an employee, a member, a citizen, neighbor, friend, acquaintance.
By myself, I am a worm of humanity, a worthless slave, EXCEPT I was saved by grace through faith. I choose, therefore, to be a bond slave, a servant of the Most High God, to follow Jesus, to listen to the spirit of the I AM THAT I AM. Now I am called to be light, salt, an alien in this world, for this world is not my true home. I am a traffic sign, if you will, pointing to the Truth. I am called to seek and grow in God’s wisdom, influence and communication.
Even so, I am still sinful, but called to love, which goes against my natural inclination, to sacrifice, which goes against my human nature, and to walk humbly, which goes against my sinful pride. I am utterly useless in the flesh, but I am a mighty warrior in the Spirit of God, and never taller than when I am on my knees. Today, that is my function! That is my hope! That is my reason for existence! THAT IS MY NAME!!
So, slave, what is YOUR name?