Matthew 1:21 The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him, “… 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.”
The angel of the Lord first appeared to Mary and later to Joseph to tell them they would be the earthly parents to the Son of God. They very easily could have named their Child “Fred,” “George,” or “Sam.” All fine names. But God had a special name picked out for this Child. A special name that was actually a very ordinary name.
At the time of the Annunciation, there were probably a few dozen children in Nazareth that were named “Jesus.” That’s because “Jesus” is the New Testament version of the Old Testament “Joshua” or “Isaiah.”
Yet the names in the Bible always have much more meaning behind them. Open your bulletin and look at those squiggly lines next to the Christmas Meditation. Those are the Hebrew letters for Jesus. Those letters mean “YHWH saves” – “the Lord saves.” Jesus literally does what His name means – YHWH saves.
Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Branch, Word, King, Lamb and Shepherd – each of these names attempts to capture the un-capturable – the grandeur of God. They try to encapsulate the essence of the Son of God. We have grown to know and love these names. But they all fall a bit short. Hearing these names, as familiar as they are, is somewhat like hearing a grade school band trying to play Handel’s Messiah. They just can’t get it all in.
No names do God justice!
But there is one name. Jesus. A regular, common name. It made the Son of God touchable, approachable, reachable. “Just call me Jesus,” you can almost hear Him say. Those who walked with Him remembered Him not with a title or designation, but with a name – Jesus! It is an ordinary and familiar name. It is also a beautiful and powerful name.
Ordinary children may have received this name … but it is no ordinary name. Still today the Name of Jesus causes controversy, scandal and offense. The Name of Jesus causes thrones of kings to topple and the rule of dictators to crumble. This Name causes the politically correct to go apoplectic. No other Name causes such a ruckus.
That’s because deep down, people know in their consciences that this Name does what it means.
- It is the Name that wrapped Himself in human flesh and blood and fell asleep in a manger so that He might overcome the world’s groaning with His righteousness.
- It is the Name that gave Himself on a Roman cross in exchange for the guilty.
- It is the Name that claimed victory because death could not hold Him in the grave.
- It is the Name that crushed the Ancient Serpent’s head and locked the Great Dragon in the abyss of hell.
- It is the Name that changed our status before God from condemned to forgiven.
- It is the Name promises a better life that this world could ever offer.
- It is the Name into which we are baptized and made His brothers and sisters.
- It is the Name that gives us the blessings of communing with the Son of God.
- It is the Name that absolves our sins and blesses our lives.
This is the Name that is higher than any other name. King of kings. Lord of lords. Name of names. YHWH in human flesh. Jesus. This is the Name that causes devils to flee, the Name by which prayer is heard, the Name by which God in the flesh is known, the name by which we are saved.
This is the Name you need. For without the Name of Jesus your only name is sinner. It is precisely for you, that this child is given the Name, Jesus. Mary’s child is named Jesus in order to place His name upon you. God becomes a child to in order to make us children of God.
It is the Name that alone is exalted, above every other name in the heavens or the earth, because “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Amen.