From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Eighteen, Day One
Just as Yahweh is God's personal name revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus is the personal name of the One we call Redeemer, Lord, and Christ. His name is intimately linked to the God of the Hebrew Scriptures because it means "Yahweh is salvation." Indeed, Jesus is Yahweh come to earth. If you have ever pictured God as a distant, wrathful Being, you will have to reconsider that portrait in light of Jesus Christ, who is God bending toward us, God becoming one of us, God reaching out in mercy, God humbling himself, God nailed to a cross, God rising up from the grave to show us the way home. Jesus, name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord!
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. 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. Matthew 1:20-21
His Name Revealed
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. 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.
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. 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."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" — which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:18 - 25
Yeshua, my Savior. You are God forever. Thank you for saving me from all my sins. You reached down from on high to rescue me. Help me to live with the continual awareness of my need for your saving grace, now and always. Amen.
Understanding the Name
Luke's Gospel tells us that the infant Christ was given the name "Jesus" at the time of his circumcision, a name given him by the angel Gabriel, who appeared to his mother Mary (Luke 1:31; 2:21).
"Jesus" was a common name in first-century Palestine, and it has been found on various grave markers and tombs in and around Jerusalem. The full name of Barabbas, the insurrectionist Pilate released instead of Jesus, was probably Jesus Barabbas. To distinguish him from others of the same name, Jesus is sometimes referred to in the Gospels as Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the son of Joseph, or Jesus the Nazarene.
Later on, particularly in Acts and the New Testament letters, he is referred to as "Jesus Christ," as though Christ is his surname. By the second century the name "Jesus" had become so closely associated with Jesus of Nazareth that it nearly disappeared as a name given to either Christians or Jews.
The name "Jesus" (in English ) or "Iesous" (in Greek) is the equivalent of the Hebrew "Yeshua," itself a contraction of the Hebrew name "Yehoshua," translated "Joshua" in English Bibles. The name Joshua is the oldest name containing Yahweh, the covenant name of God, a name so sacred it was considered too holy to pronounce. Both "Jesus" and "Joshua" mean "Yahweh is help" or "Yahweh is salvation." Yeshua is also related to the word yeshu'ah, which means "salvation."
"Soter" is the Greek word translated "Savior." Its Hebrew equivalent is Moshia. In Greek, "Jesus the Savior" is rendered Iesous Soter (yay-SOUS so-TAIR). Through the centuries, the church has affirmed the belief of the earliest followers of Jesus that "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Studying the Name
- What comes to mind when you hear the name "Jesus"?
- Though "Jesus" was a common name in first-century Palestine, God sent an angel to announce the name to Joseph. Comment on the significance of this.
- Why do you think Jesus' name is linked to the name of Yahweh, the covenant name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures?
- Describe what salvation means to you.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.