Jesus is His name. And it was not an accident. It was not Joseph and Mary’s decision to call Him Jesus. It was God’s decision. God the Father named God the Son. This is what we find in both Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31:
To Joseph it was said (by the Angel), “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
And to Mary it was said (by the Angel), “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”
God the Father named Jesus … but why did He name Him that particular name? Most names have meaning, or some significance … especially when God is the One who does the naming! When we hear the name Jesus, it certainly is important to us because we immediately associate it with the Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas each year. However, to the first century folks, this was not an abnormal name, but actually a VERY NORMAL NAME. “Jesus” was a very common name in first century Palestine. I know what that was like. My name (Mark) was also common in my growing up years. In fact there was another “Mark” in most of my elementary school classes, forcing me to be “Mark R” and him “Mark Q.” You may have had a situation like that in your school. Jesus was such a common name that they had to add a modifier to help people know WHICH JESUS WAS BEING REFERRED TO. That is why they called Him “Jesus of Nazareth.” Which Jesus? The one that grew up in Nazareth. Oh … THAT Jesus!
So why did God pick such a common name for His Son? Well, first of all, Jesus came in a very common form. So it reminds us that He looked like us … but second, it was because of what that name meant. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua.” (This is a name that I am actually quite fond of … my son is named Joshua!) But the name Joshua in Hebrew had a meaning. It meant “Yahweh Saves” or “God is salvation.” Jesus was given a name that would point to His very purpose in life. He came (as Matthew 1:21 told us) to save people from their sins.
And we need saving. Our world is messed up. WE ARE MESSED UP. There is so much pain and confusion and death and suffering and brokenness all around us … this year has reminded us of that! We need someone to rescue us … but the problem is, all who we look to in this world to rescue us (politicians, philosophies, etc.) are also broken and in need of fixing themselves. We need HELP!
Thankfully God gave it through His Son Jesus Christ. He came to save us from our sins. Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment our sins deserve so that we might be forgiven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)”
Even the name of Jesus reminds us that God is our salvation. Let’s trust in Him, and thank Him this Christmas for the salvation He provides.