17th December 2023

The Meaning of the Name Jesus

Passage: Matthew 1:21
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

In these short moments, I want to bring one thing clear, and that one thing will be about what's in the meaning of the name Jesus. Actually, people give names to their kids sometimes because they're family names. I was really glad my dad didn't make me have his complete name. He was Edward Gordon Gibson, and the letters EGG, the other kids at school, they called him Googie. And I was glad not to inherit that.

And it's interesting about names, though. People do draw from relatives, but also they sometimes have a reason for the hope that the child represents, and the name comes from there. Or perhaps it is that they knew somebody, and they like the name of that special friend. I always liked the name, Michelle, and when I met my Michelle now, that was a wonderful thing, because she already had the best name, in my opinion. I did have one other girl I liked, though I'd better tell you, along the way before I met Michelle, and her name was Heidi. She was a Dutch girl, very pretty. And so when our first child arrived, I called her Heidi. Actually, I'd run out of names for girls, except that I was teaching, and there was a girl in the school where I was teaching who wanted me to help her out when I travelled overseas to America. She said, "Bring me back from the Disney World a little monkey, I think it was, she wanted, or something." And her name was Shona. And those of you who know me, know that another daughter I have is called Shona. And we give people names because of some attachment we have to the sort of person that we’d seen have that name.

Now, what about Jesus? The Bible verse on the screen is a very important one. It says, "She shall bear a son, and this is the Angel’s announcement, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." That was carried out by Joseph, the father of Mary, under the angels' instruction. But what's in the meaning of a name? Working out in the outback in a little town, there was a lot of different families, and some of them used to play cards into the night, and one household playing cards the man whose wife was about to have a child had found that he discovered a very good hand; he was holding the ace of spades, and then the news burst in the door that he'd had a son, so he called the boy Ace of Spades, and I was never sure whether that fellow was proud of his aboriginality and his colour or whether he was just saying casually big deals. I could never work that out, but we all have our reasons for names, and the question I'm asking us is, why was Jesus called Jesus?

Now, you do know that the name Jesus in our culture today is not one often chosen because of the religious connection, and people don't want to introduce two names, so there's very few people running around in Brisbane with the name Jesus. There would be some because there are other cultures overseas that don't have that reason to escape the name, who do call their sons Jesus, and certainly back in the time when the Lord was born, there was a lot of little boys running around with the name Jesus because it was quite a popular name. I don't know whether you knew that. Its popularity came about by the way Jesus is the Greek version of what in Hebrew is Joshua, and there were two very famous persons in the Jewish history who had the name Joshua. One was a fellow who followed Moses in leadership and was the one to bring the children of Israel into the promised land, and it was Moses who helped that name; it was a form motion or something a bit like Moses, and Moses changed it a little bit to be Joshua. I'm not sure of the details of how that came about, but the word Joshua is actually a putting together of the original one that Moses had and also the word for God, Jehovah, and the two of them together put together the idea that Joshua or Jehovah can save, and that's a part of the meaning of Jesus: Jehovah can save.

Now, it's interesting as we go down through history and we learn about the different names that eventually when the angel came to tell Joseph, the father, the legal father that is, to be of Jesus, that you shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins, that the angel bringing that instruction represents that the choice of the name Jesus was not just Mary and Joseph; they were under the instructions, as one of our skits has already shown. Mary also got the news. The person who invented the name or chose the name for him to be Jesus was God above, and when he chose that name Jehovah is capable of saving, he was talking about himself that would be accomplished through this little boy who was born that original Christmas day. Jehovah capable of saving is what his name means. Actually, it was a tremendous vote from heaven in the capacity of our Lord Jesus Christ being born as a baby to eventually grow up and achieve the end, and you probably know the way that he achieved saving people from their sins was what he had to go through and living a perfect life and being sinless and being a sacrifice for sinners that was spotless just as the Jewish law had pictured would be the need of a spotless sacrifice for sin. Jesus came and he lived it out, and then he took his way to the cross, and he didn't let himself be turned aside, but he went there to die upon a cruel cross for our sins, and that's how Jesus achieved our salvation by giving his life for our sins. The Bible sums up in the Gospel of John, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but should have everlasting life." And Jesus succeeded in being the saviour; he had one final thing that he needed to do because after he commended his soul, his person into the hands of the Father, he died. He was three days dead, and on the third day, he burst forth out of the tomb. Jesus rose again; he appeared to his disciples across forty days; they saw that it was him; they saw his hands, his feet; they even saw him eat fish in front of them, and the fish wasn't still visible; it disappeared into his gullet. They saw he was human; they saw and knew that it was him, and Jesus went back to heaven. And because he had come to earth, he had been born as a baby, the original Christmas story, and he received the name Jesus, which was heaven's vote that he could indeed achieve Jehovah saves, and now this morning, this evening, and this Christmas occasion as we are here to celebrate Christmas, and we are doing it very well, this is a terrific night I've got to say, but as we are doing it, it's to underline for you and for me that his name is Jesus because he's able to save you from your sins.

How does that happen? It happens when we hear this blessed gospel message, this good news, the word gospel means good news, when we understand that God has achieved what we had lost, that God has succeeded in his son coming and becoming the saviour. Do you know the original time that that name, Jesus, got to mean saviour, happened because there were two people in Jewish history, I won't take very long on this, but two people in Jewish history. One was the original Joshua who led into the promised land. But prior to his actually coming, when Moses was still in control, they'd actually sent out spies to investigate the land, and they came back and reported all sorts of things, which included that it was a beautiful land, there was lots of good fruit and all the rest, but also there were giants. And ten of the twelve were pessimistic about the wisdom of going in and trying to take this promised land. But two people spoke out loud, and one was Joshua. And Joshua, whose name means Jehovah's capable of saving, he spoke up and says, yes, they're giants, yes, they're big, but our God is able, and he had faith. That's why his name was appropriately Joshua, which means, it's the Hebrew form of the Greek Jesus. It means Jehovah is able to save. And because he had that name, do you know the second person in Jewish history who had the name Jesus was a priest. And he came to the business of being a priest at a time when there was need to restore a lot of the worship properly. And he was involved in bringing people back to true worship. And those two things that Joshua, the military leader, and Jesus, or Joshua, the priest did, those two things were the forerunners of who Jesus was going to be. He was going to be king of kings. He was going to be the promised Messiah. And he was going to deal with your sins and mine. And in his so doing was capable of getting your sins forgiven. And so this message of the gospel is that if you will believe, if you will come and trust, if you will come to this Jesus who came and paid the price for your sins, and you'll let him forgive your sins, and you take him as your Lord, your King, your Saviour, just as his name speaks, if you let him be your King and your Saviour, in that moment as you bow your soul to him, as you bow your person to him, you become a Christian. And God is about the business of giving people calls to respond to the gospel. It's a message that calls on response. And our Jesus came, came to the world that he might make it possible for you to do the response that God calls on you to do tonight. On this Christmas, just a week before Christmas, this time when we hear about his name being Jesus, please take with you from tonight that his name is Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.

I'm going to pray, and then we'll continue with the program. Heavenly Father, we thank you. We thank you that we can have a Christmas meeting. We can have a time of fellowship. Oh, I love the carols. I thank you, Father, for the joy that is ours when we can rehearse together what Jesus has done and sing about him. But my prayer most of all tonight is that someone listening to my voice will understand themselves to be in receipt of a call on a special name, the name Jesus, and that they will find some place, maybe tonight, kneeling by their bed, maybe coming and talking to some person that they know as a Christian can help them, and that they will pray and say, "Jesus, you achieved my salvation by how you died and rose again. Please be my Lord and Savior," I ask it in your special name of Jesus. Amen.


Listen to a recent sermon