Readings: Matthew 1:18-25, Acts 4:1-12, Philippians 2:9-11
At last—a name we speak often. The name “Jesus” is household language in America, for better or for worse. For some, it’s the name in which they pray. For others, it refers to a famous, ancient, somewhat irrelevant prophet. For still more, it’s a flippantly used expletive—meaningless except as an expression of frustration.
The name Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua is a common Israelite name in the Old Testament, with its most famous bearer undoubtedly being the Joshua who succeeded Moses as head of Israel and led the conquering of the Promised Land. It is a combination of the proper name of God—Yahweh, or Jehovah—and the verb yasha, which means “to save.”
Jesus, then, means “Yahweh saves” - or, since the name Yahweh simply means "He is" - He is salvation.
[Mary] will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
He is salvation.
This is the Christ: Jesus - not given this name in mere tribute to God’s work or even as a symbol of it, but because He would be the living, dying, and alive-again act of the salvation of God.
The One called "Yahweh saves" stretched Himself out on a cross to make it so.
There is nothing meaningless, irrelevant, or common about this name. It is “above every name” (Philippians 2:9); it is the name “by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Every time we speak it or call on its authority in prayer, we call on the same power and faithfulness that brought us salvation. Jesus—Yahweh Saves—came to be God’s promise-keeping and soul-saving, incarnate.