I’m a bit of a geek. I can geek out over the silliest things. Ask my husband. He just smiles and nods as I get excited and ramble on about art history, color theory, grammar, women’s studies and all the other things us extreme right-brained folk nerd out about. Today, it was a color that did it. Not just any color. Ultramarine.

It’s not so much the color itself that geeked me out (although it’s one of the coolest and richest colors in the world), but but rather the name of the color, and how it got such a name.

I just finished a book that described how the color ultramarine blue got its name. Ultra meaning “beyond” and marine meaning “sea”. So the color name literally translates to “beyond the sea”. What struck me about this is that ultramarine is literally named after the journey that it takes. Let me explain…

Pigments in India

Ultramarine was the finest and most expensive blue used by painters during the European renaissance. It was even more expensive than gold at that time. Most of the time, it was a color reserved only for painting the Madonna or Christ. This pigment was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli into powder. Since most of the painters in the European renaissance did not have access to lapis lazuli, the pigment was imported to them from across the sea by way of Venice. So, for these painters, this precious pigment was from “beyond the sea”.

Ok, if you’re still with me, hear me out.

When I learned about why and how this color got its name, I started thinking about how cool it was that it was named after the journey it had to take to become of any use to the painters who so desperately wanted it. And that reminded me of another name.


His name means “salvation”. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

God knew the journey his son Jesus would have to take. A journey of and for salvation. For the salvation of us all. And He named him accordingly.

Just like the beautiful ultramarine color would not have been any use to the painters if it weren’t for the journey it had to take to get to them, what use would we, children of God, be to the world if it weren’t for the journey He had to make to save us?

Just like those painters so desperately needed that beautiful color for their paintings, we so desperately need the beautiful name of Jesus for our salvation. But it came at a cost. And it takes the journey of a lifetime to truly obtain it in our hearts.

But, we live our best, most vibrant, and most fruitful lives when we live it through Jesus. When we accept His name and His journey for us.

Oh what a beautiful name it is!


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