Summary: This sermon focuses on the two names given to Jesus in Matthew’s rendition of the birth narrative. These two words bring us great hope and joy!
A. Let’s start with a question: What’s In A Name?
1. As you know, names are very important to us.
2. In many respects, the most important word in the English language to each of us is our name.
3. The sound of our names has a ring to us that we like to hear – that is, unless we are in trouble.
4. Successful salesman will tell you that using a prospects name over and over again in the conversation helps to make the sale.
B. The naming of children in biblical times was important business; much more so than today.
1. Names were not given to children in that day just because they sounded good or were the popular name that year.
2. Names for children in ancient times were chosen because of their meaning.
3. Sometimes the name that was chosen was intended to affect the child’s identity and character.
4. Sometimes the name was chosen to give explanation of an event at the time of the child’s birth.
C. Today, as we give attention to the birth of Jesus, I want us to pay close attention to the names that were given to this child born to Mary the virgin.
1. In Matthew chapter one, we read that Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married.
2. In that time and culture, the engagement period was more binding than in our time and culture.
3. Today, either party can break the engagement by just saying so – the ring is returned and it is over.
4. During the time when Jesus was born, if an engagement was to be broken, it had to be done by divorce.
D. We are told that before the wedding ceremony had taken place, and before they had had any intimate relations, Mary was found to be with child.
1. How scandalous that was in that day – I wish the moral climate of our day still considered it scandalous.
2. Joseph knew the child was not his, but he was a good and holy man, and didn’t want to make matters any worse for Mary than was necessary, so he planned on divorcing her quietly.
3. Surely, he loved Mary, but he did not think he could trust her.
E. That’s when God stepped in and convinced Joseph, not only of Mary’s innocence, but of God’s big plans for them and the child Mary was carrying.
1. Nothing other than this kind of miraculous activity on God’s part would likely have convinced Joseph to go ahead with the marriage.
2. Look with me at what the angel told Joseph: “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. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20-21)
3. Then Matthew explains: 22All 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.” (Mt. 1:22-23)
F. So, in advance of the birth of the Son of God, God himself sent a message to Joseph and Mary about the naming of the special child.
1. The name they were to give him was Jesus.
2. The name others will refer to him as was Immanuel. This would be like a nickname, rather than a formal name.
3. What do these names mean and what is their significance for us?
4. Those are the questions we want to answer in today’s lesson.
I. You are to give him the name “Jesus.”
A. This name has its roots in the Old Testament.
1. Jesus is the Greek form of the O.T. Jewish name Yeshua.
2. In English, most of us know the name better in its biblical form as Joshua.
3. It was translated into the Greek O.T. as Iesous, from which we get our transliteration “Jesus.”
B. The name Joshua was a very common name among the Jews of the first century.
1. This was the case probably due to the importance of Joshua, son of Nun whom God chose to succeed Moses and lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land.
2. The name is found throughout the history of the Mediterranean world.
3. The Jewish historian Josephus, for example, names 19 important individuals who bore the name Jesus.
4. It is also found on numerous grave markers and tombs in and around Jerusalem – sometimes in its Hebrew form and sometimes in its Greek form.
5. Even in the N.T., the name Jesus appears a number of times to identify persons other than Jesus Christ.