The Names of Jesus: Jesus

The names of Jesus
Read Matthew 1:18-25

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for he will save His people from their sins.”


            In Matthew 1, we find the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph. The reason for the focus on Joseph is that it was revealed to him that the name to be given to his firstborn is the name “Jesus .”For the Jews, this name was nondescript. It was a common name that people would give their sons. For the Jews, the name Jesus would be comparable to someone naming their son John. It was a popular name. The popularity stemmed from the background of the Old Testament hero, who bore the same name. The name Jesus in Hebrew would be pronounced Jeshua, thus connecting the name to the Old Testament personage of Joshua (Hebrew: Jeshua), the great military leader who led the nation in seizing possession of the land promised to Abraham in the covenant god made with him.  

            When the angel informs Joseph that he is to name his firstborn Jesus, he tells Joseph that the name would be significant, “for He will save His people from their sins.”  The name Jesus (Joshua) comes from combining two Hebrew words. The first part of the name “Yeh” was commonly attached to Old Testament names, either at the beginning or end, to serve as a reference to the God of Israel, “Jahweh,” “I AM,” which was the exclusive name of the God of Israel. The other Hebrew embedded in the name is the word “Shu’” which is the Hebrew word for  “cry for help.”  It describes God’s response to those who cry out to him. God responds to the cry and brings salvation and deliverance.   Putting these two terms together in the name of Jeshua then results in the name meaning “The Lord is our help.”     

            In his pronouncement to Joseph, the angel makes it clear that the name “Jesus” is more than just a title or designation. It is a name that will define the purpose of his arrival. The Jews were looking for a Messiah, one who would come to bring political and national salvation to Israel. But the angel announces that this baby would do far more, for he would come to bring salvation for the people from their sins. In this name, we find the ultimate purpose of Christ’s coming.  

Christ came not just to save us from our bondage of sin but also he came to save us from the judgment of sin. In the death of Christ, Christ broke the power of sin over us by redeeming us from evil. To celebrate Christmas is to celebrate is to keep one eye on the manger and the other eye on the cross. This week, as we anticipate the arrival of Christmas morning. We need to recognize that what we are celebrating is not just the birth of a baby in the manger; we are celebrating the one who came to answer our cry for help. He came to save us from sin. 


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