Summary: A look at the name of Jesus and what it means for mankind.

What’s In A Name?

Matthew 1:18–25


Paul Harvey tells the story about a family just around Christmas. This family had a tradition, although not regular church goers, the mother and children would go to a Christmas Eve service, and the Father would stay home and read the paper. When the family returns home from church, they would all gather to open up their presents.

The father was not evil man, but he just couldn’t believe in the childhood stories anymore of God coming as a baby in a manger. As the family left for church, he opened up the evening paper to read by the fireplace.

Suddenly, he heard tapping on the window. It was a bird flying against the glass of his window trying to get out of the snow into the warmth of his home. The man had compassion on the bird, and he went outside, hoping to bring it in.

As he approached the bird, the bird just flew against the window even harder. Pretty soon, the bird flew into the bushes below the window, half frozen, yet too afraid to be caught by this huge man. The more the man tried to reach for the bird, the more the bird flew frantically into the snow and thorns of the bushes.

After a few minutes in the cold and seeing the bird continue to injure itself, the man yelled out in frustration, “Stupid bird, can’t you understand that I’m trying to help?” The man paused and thought, “If only you understood you wouldn’t fly away. . . If only. . . If only I could become a bird, and get you to understand.”

Just then, the church bells rang, as they always have on the hour. But when the man heard the bells this time, he fell to his knees and began to cry, saying, “Oh, God, I didn’t understand. Oh, God, I didn’t understand.”

God’s Son came in human form that we might understand from where we have come, for what reason we were separated and how we could be restored to God.

Illustration taken from Dana Chau at

• At this time of year everyone in the world is focused on the Christmas Season and are thinking about the birth of Christ.

• Even those who do not celebrate this season as the birthday of Christ are thinking about it as we are forced to reexamine why we believe what we believe.

• Romans 14:1 “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters.” 14:5–6 “One man considers on day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.”

• Regardless your opinion as to whether or not we should celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ, we have an obligation to spread the gospel to the world and we are missing a GREAT opportunity during the Christmas season if we ignore the fact that everyone around us is thinking about.

• Let’s look at one aspect of the birth narrative given in Matthew. The names of the Messiah.


I. “You are to give him the name Jesus.” Matt. 1:21

A. Jesus was a common Jewish name often given in honor of Joshua.

B. The Significance of the name Jesus is that it means:

1. Jehovah Saves or,

2. The Lord Saves.

C. The Angel told Joseph to name the child this because “He will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21b

D. Testimony in the New Testament to the appropriateness of this name.

1. Acts 4:12 2. Acts 10:43 3. Romans 5:6–8 4. Romans 10:1313for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

5. John 3:16–17

Oh how that name that was so common in the days when Jesus was born has changed so mightily in its significance. This name, Jesus, proclaims the great work that Jesus came to perform. The next name we will look at shows the very nature of our Savior.

II. “And they will call him Immanuel” Matt. 1:23

A. Matthew explains the meaning of this word for us–“God with us.”

B. The Messiah would be both fully God and fully human.

1. John 1:1,14 2. Phil. 2:5–11 3. Col. 2:9

C. As finite humans we have a hard time reconciling this idea of 100% God and 100% man.

1. 1 Tim. 3:16 2. It is indeed a mystery, one we cannot fully understand but rest assured Jesus was born both fully God and fully Human

D. It was necessary that He do this as we see from Heb. 2:14–18

1. We don’t have to understand “why” Jesus had to come as a human and die for our sins,

2. We only have to understand that he did, and that he did it out of love.


• Do you today need a reason to have faith and hope?

• Remember, Jesus is “Immanuel–God with us”

• Because he came in the flesh, God understands our pain and our struggles.

• Do you need comfort in your suffering and trials?

• Remember, Jesus your precious Savior’s name is “The Lord Saves.”


A preacher was preparing his sermon that was to be delivered just before Christmas and he fell asleep in his office at the church building. He began to dream that he was in a world into which Jesus had never come. He walked out on the streets, but there were no church steeples which pointed to heaven. He was summoned by a weeping child to visit her dying mother, but on arriving found that his bible ended with the OT. The NT with all its promises of heaven had disappeared from his bible. He bowed his head and wept in despair, for he could offer her no hope.

Suddenly the preacher was awakened by a group of children down the hall singing Christmas carols. Joy filled his soul as he realized as never before why we sing “Joy to the World the Lord Has Come!”

From “Our Daily Bread, Dec. 20, 1992