Why did God name His Son “Jesus”?
David Mathis has written a wonderful meditation on that question entitled “The Name God Gave His Son.” He found that the very name of Jesus is, in effect (my words) a creed, a confession of who Jesus is and what He has accomplished for us.
The name we transliterate as “Jesus” is, in Hebrew, “Yeshua.” This is the same name that we transliterate in the Old Testament as “Joshua.” Moses led the people through the wilderness, but he could not bring them into the Promised Land. That task is reserved for Joshua. I can’t help but notice the symbolism: Moses (the Law) is unable to bring us to Heaven. For that we need Yeshua (the Gospel).
Moreover, the word “Yeshua” means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus is “Yahweh” in the flesh. And He has come to save us.
Mathis explores the text in Scripture that states what God wants His son to be named and what that name means: “The angel told Joseph, ‘you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:21).
Yeshua means Yahweh saves. That this unique child’s name would be Yahweh saves was understandable for Joseph. Of course, God’s people needed saving — from the Gentiles. From the Romans who ruled over them; from local puppets of Caesar, like Herod and Pilate. . . .
Then the bombshell: “he will save his people from their sins.” Not from the enemies, but from their sin. He will save them from themselves.
And there is another bombshell:
Here, see him in a manger laid, this is Yahweh himself among us, to rescue us. This is Yahweh saving us not through sending a mere human vessel but through becoming human himself, in the person of his eternal divine Son, and going all the way to death, even death on a cross, to liberate us from exceedingly more than temporal, earthly oppression — from sin and Satan and death itself.
So the very name of Jesus is a confession of His deity and His saving work.
There is much more that Matthis gets into, including what the angel reveals to Mary about what she is to name her child and what He will be “called.” So read the whole reflection.
(I know, I know, I should have saved this post for January 1, the day of the church year in which we commemorate the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. But that’s also New Year’s Day, when by long custom, we post your predictions for the year ahead. I am looking forward to New Year’s Eve, in which we will check your predictions to see if anybody predicted the coronavirus epidemic or any of the other strange happenings of this year. I am hoping the prognosis for 2021 will be much better. You might be thinking about what you think will happen. Anyway, contemplating the name of the baby in the manger is also fitting for Advent–seeing Him as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises–and for Christmas.)