Matthew 1:21 “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.”
I doubt that many people think much about the name, Jesus, or more properly, Yeshua. The majority of English speakers don’t even know the English spelling and pronunciation are something of a fluke. The bilingual NIV/Shinkaiyaku Bible in front of me at least has the footnote, “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves.” In many societies names are deeply meaningful, but that is largely lost from American society today. Continuing family names is still common, or even naming babies for famous people, but we see people making names up out of thin air as well, thinking only about whether they sound nice or are unique. That makes us overlook the meaning of names in the Bible, even this “name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) This is totally tied in with John 3:16, because the Son came to earth to be our Savior. That makes it all the more ironic and sad when people use His name as an expletive. For that matter, relatively few English speakers know that Christ is the Anglicized form of the Greek word for Messiah, or that both of those words mean Savior. (The Japanese term for Savior is more explicitly, Saving Lord.) All the facts about who Jesus is, even apart from what He has done and is doing, are worthy of a great deal of thought and meditation. The better we know Him, who and what He is, the more secure we will be against all that this world throws at us, either trials or temptations.
My name is deeply family related, and I am very pleased with it, even if “Jackson Maxfield Garrott” does get a bit cumbersome at times. When I was still a baby someone asked my mother what my name was, and when she told them, they said, “That’s a mighty big name for such a small baby.” My mother replied, “He’ll grow.” Whether I have grown to be worthy of the name I was given is for others to decide. Of far greater importance is my relationship to the name of Jesus, and how accurate it is that I am called a Christian. I want others to know that the Lord saves because of me. I often perform weddings at a “wedding chapel” for largely non-Christian groups, and I always talk about God’s love. Many Japanese are aware that the Bible says, “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) so I bring that up and then contrast God’s love with human love, talking about Jesus as the ultimate expression of God’s love. In that, I tell them that Jesus means, God is salvation. Simply telling them that doesn’t accomplish their salvation, but it gives them the opportunity to repent and believe for their salvation, and that is my prayer for them.
Father, it seems like every year at Christmas I get totally stressed out because of all the things to be done, and I fail to marvel at the magnificence of what You did in sending Jesus. Forgive me. Thank You for the service we’ll be having tonight. There are still things to be completed before then. Help us receive Your wisdom and strength for each task, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You, so that Your salvation may be manifested in and through us as a witness to many, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!