But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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.”
Names carry a great deal of theological weight in the Bible, from Adam naming the animals in the Garden to God changing Abraham’s name to Jesus calling Simon by the name Peter, “the Rock.” In our culture, we tend to name children based on family traditions or the whims of popular culture, but in the Bible, names were meant to say something important about the person. That was certainly true with Jesus, whose name was most likely pronounced Yeshua, a variant on the Hebrew name we know as Joshua. The Hebrew meaning of his name is “The Lord is salvation” or “The Lord saves.” From early in the Old Testament, we learn the mysterious significance of God’s name, first spoken to Moses at the burning bush. God called himself “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14), which became the personal name of God, likely pronounced Yahweh and rendered in English Bibles as The Lord. As God prepared to send his Son into the world, He chose the name Jesus.
We also know Jesus as the Christ, as the Savior, as Immanuel, as the Lord, as the Son of God, and by many other names and titles given him in OT prophecy and throughout the New Testament. Were we to name him according to all the extraordinary things He did, we may never run out of titles: Miracle-worker, Healer, Water-walker, Storm-calmer, Teacher, Friend, Sin-Bearer, the Risen One. God chose Jesus, because of all the wonderful, mighty things He did while walking among us, offering salvation to sinners matters the most. Jesus’ mission was to save us from our sins. Above all else, that’s why He was born, why He came into our broken world, why He died on the cross, and why his resurrection gives us hope.
People celebrate Christmas for lots of reasons and in lots of different ways. For some it’s just a fun season of presents, glittering trees and eggnog-flavored coffee. That’s fine. At least, they are celebrating. For us, Christmas is the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Jesus came into this world to save people from sin and death, and that includes me and you. We rejoice that God so loved the world that He sent his one and only Son so that all who believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). His name is Jesus.
God of Grace, thank You for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Give me opportunities to share His wonderful name with others so they can rejoice this Christmas in the Savior’s birth. I pray in His name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian