What Does the Name Jesus Mean?

What Does the Name Jesus Mean?

If you have been brought face-to-face with your sin and have come to believe that Jesus is your Savior, no name will be more precious to you than His. Though at one time you may have held Him at arm’s length, despised Him as nothing more than a profanity, or even thought that you could save yourself through good works, the name, the person, and the work of Jesus have now become dear, for you have drawn near to Him and experienced His compassion, kindness, and mercy.

When the angel visited Mary and Joseph to announce the birth of the Messiah, he gave clear instructions concerning the child’s name: “You shall call his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31). Christ has many glorious names: King, Creator, Lord, Judge, Son of God, Son of David, Master, I Am, the First and the Last, etc. But the angel commanded that a very specific name be given Him at His birth—and we may wonder at the intention behind that choice. Why “Jesus”?

The name itself was not an unusual name. In fact, it is the Hellenized version of the Old Testament name Joshua. In Hebrew, it is Yeshua, and simply translated, it means “The Lord saves.” So of all the glorious names He might have been given, the name that would mark out the incarnate Son of God would be that which describes Him as Savior. Jesus’ name communicates His purpose: “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). As Peter would later proclaim, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While Jesus’ name and ministry invite people into grace, many do not respond to Jesus Himself with warmth. His name is precious, yet so many treat it as peripheral, or even profane. During this Christmas season, then, we ought to ask ourselves, “What does the name Jesus mean to me?”

Profaned and Peripheral

Many people have no interest in the name Jesus, except perhaps as a curse word. They have no interest in Jesus as a Savior, they have not experienced Jesus’ power to change their lives, and they may even question whether Jesus really is who He says He is—but they still find the sound of His name to be a convenient interjection when they are surprised or angry. So they choose to profane the name of the incarnate God, who came to save us from our sins.

Yet it is not only the obvious offenders who profane Jesus’ name. Many people feel some respect for the name of Jesus, but their lives are busy, and so Jesus is ultimately sidelined. After all, there are places to go, people to meet, money to be earned, bills to be paid, and children to be raised. Jesus is just one of many obligations, and certainly not their chief desire. People thus have little awareness that they need to be saved at all, and they ignore the testimony of Jesus’ own name: that He has come to save them.

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