Summary: The second in a series of messages on the person of Jesus as seen through the Christmas story. This message focuses on the names of Jesus as seen in the birth narrative.
What’s in a Name?
December 2, 2007
When Elizabeth was pregnant with Abigail, she was due in early December. As we approached the holidays, there was a great anticipation. I will never forget the conversation that Elizabeth and I had about naming Abigail. Both her first and middle names were chosen not because they sounded nice or anything like that. We chose those names because of what they meant.
The name Abigail means my father is joyful. In the Old Testament, Abigail was described as a beautiful and intelligent woman. Abigail’s middle name literally means the Lord is my teacher. Samuel means God has heard. Names do have meaning if you look hard enough.
In our culture names are what we use to identify ourselves. Names carried a great deal of importance in biblical times. People were named with great thought and meaning. Names were seen as a symbol of divine destiny. Here are just a few examples:
Nehemiah: consoled by God
Jeremiah: Exalted by God
Isaiah: God is salvation
Delilah: small, poor or head of hair
When God sent His Son, He chose the perfect name, Jesus but God also gave other names and titles to describe Jesus to the world. If you have your Bibles, please open them to Matthew 1:18-25 (quickview)
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 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." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Names reveal the person of Jesus
Jesus: The name Jesus in the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua which literally means God is our salvation or God saves. Jesus is the source of God’s salvation. Without Jesus there is no salvation, no one would be saved. The word salvation means to deliver from terrible disaster that causes death.
Notice the message of the angel to Joseph in verse 21. 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 makes it clear that the name Jesus is given because He will save His people from their sins. There is nothing good that comes from the power of sin. Sin creates a separation in our lives. It separates us from God, other people and from the person we are meant to be. Paul tells us that the reward for sin is death. Jesus came to bring deliverance from the power of death.