October 26, 2020 1 By Mirm

This is a silly thought I had – why are carved pumpkins called “jack-o-lanterns”? So, I looked it up with the magic of the internet. It seems that it comes from the 1500s when all those stories, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and fables were being told and nearly every little boy was named Jack! Jack and the beanstalk. Jack and Jill. Jack be Nimble. Jack of all trades. Little Jack Horner. Jack-in-the-Box. The House that Jack built. Jack Sprat. Jack Frost. et al. It turns out that Jack is a general term for a boy.

Even earlier, the name Jack was originally used as a generic name for peasants. Over time, Jack worked his way into words such as lumberjack and jackass, the commonly used term for a donkey. Of course, John was once used as a generic name for English commoners and peasants, (John Doe) which could be why Jack came became his nickname. But additionally the Normans added -kin when they wanted to make a diminutive. And Jen was their way of saying John. So little John became Jenkin and time turned that into ultimately Jack.

Young boys used these hollowed-out and lit-up root vegetables to spook people. Irish legend has it that this use of jack-o-lantern was named after a fellow named Stingy Jack. Jack, thinking he could trick Satan, made a faustian bargain with him; the devil had the last laugh, condemning Jack to an eternity of wandering the planet, unable to enter either heaven or hell, with only an ember of hellfire for light. 

There is something about names that matter. In the beginning of time God named everything. It gave meaning and identity to all the things He created. God Himself is known by His name(s) and we know about who He is from His names! And, there is power in the Lord’s Name – “His name is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved” (Prov. 18:10).

People of all time, throughout history, have learned the Name of the Great I AM. It is whispered in prayer. It is weighty enough to be called on the battlefields and in prison cells. It is held onto by those who are persecuted and it is the hope of those who grieve. It is the Name that refuses to be minimized by our agendas. It is the Name that saves. It is the Name uttered daily around the world, with or without regard for its value and potency. It is the Name above all Names.

I am awestruck that God wants to be known and wants to know and love me! Even more, He knows my name! He wrote it on His heart and carried it to the cross! In Ex. 28, we learn that Aaron and his sons used to have to carry the names of the Israelites on their hearts in memory and for judgment before the Lord. The weight of such a responsibility would have been unimaginable at times and God knew that man could not atone for their own sins. When Jesus died upon the cross He took on this responsibility, so no man is required to carry this weight any longer. Through Jesus’ death we are offered the gift of salvation and God also removed the weight of our sins and placed them upon His Son, Jesus Christ! He now carries our names and our sins upon Himself!

Additionally, God has put His name on my heart. (Jer. 31:33)! As a Christ follower, I am further struck by the fact that everyone matters and there are NO “Jacks” in God’s eyes. He sees me. He knows me. He calls me by name. I am not generic or invisible. I am loved. I am His, like Woody belongs to Andy.

So, back to the original question that led to this post, I am NOT a jack-o-lantern. I am a lightraider who carries the Light of the World, shining like a star in the universe. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Name of Jesus! (Matt. 5:16).

Side note: Perhaps we could start a trend with OMJ (Oh My Jack).If Jack is a generic name for any male person, it makes more sense!