Read Matthew 1:1-25
There sure are a lot of names in today’s reading! But, really, what’s in a name? In our culture, it seems, not much. Parents choose names because they like the sound of them . . . or maybe as a namesake for a favorite relative.
Once in a while, though, you discover a person intentionally named because the name says something about who they are or something about what the parents hope they become. Jesus was one of those names. An angel made clear to both Mary and Joseph that this was to be the name of the child they would call their first-born.
When we hear the name Jesus, we associate it immediately with Him. In reality, though, it was a common name of the day. There was a “Bar-Jesus” in Acts 13:6 and a “Jesus, who is called Justus” in Colossians 4:11. Jesus was actually the Greek form of the name Joshua, the name of Moses’ successor after the period of the Exodus. Joshua was a key player during the time of conquest when the people of God regained the land God had promised them.
Even though the names Jesus and Joshua have rich biblical histories, it wasn’t just a nice sounding name that the angel chose arbitrarily or as a namesake to a prominent Old Testament character. The name Jesus has meaning. “The Lord saves.” In fact, that is the very reason Jesus came . . . to save. He understood His mission and personally said that He “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
But what did He come to save us from? The angel told us. “He will save His people from their sins” (v. 21). Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus provided rescue from the consequences of all those thoughts, deeds, and words that displease God.
The Lord saves. By definition, that is the name of Jesus. “The Lord saves.” That was the mission of Jesus by personal declaration.
Don’t lose sight of the fact this Christmas season that the baby in that manger came to fulfill the meaning of His name . . . to save you.