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Devotional: The Name of Jesus – 4th Sunday in Advent

4th Sunday in Advent

The Name of Jesus

ihc2But after he had considered this,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream
and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take
Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from
the Holy Spirit. 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.”
Matthew 1:20-21

One last monogram adorns our Chrismon tree, IHS (Iota Eta Sigma, the last letter
is sometimes a small sigma, looking like a ‘c’), representing the three-letter Greek
name, Jesus. This name that Mary and Joseph gave to their newborn, Yeshua in
Hebrew, was a very popular name in first century Israel. It is a form of the name
Joshua, a favorite Old Testament character because he had brought the Israelites
into the Promised Land. The people were looking for a “new Joshua” who might
lead them out from under the oppression of the Romans, so naming a child after
him was an expression of faith and hope. But the name, as the angel reminds Joseph,
means “savior,” which is fitting because that will be the role of Jesus. Salvation
will come in a different form than people expected, because it will address
their sins, not the Romans. But national repentance was expected before the new
Yeshua would bring in the final kingdom of God.

A couple of old priests in the Christmas story recognize how Jesus will be tied into
bringing of the kingdom of God. In the Old Testament, the word for salvation was
yeshuah (the word for ‘savior’ drops the ‘h’ at the end). So any time you read the
word salvation in the Hebrew, it sounds identical to the name for Jesus. Imagine
what it must have been like for Christians to read Luke’s Christmas account and
hear Zechariah say about his son, John,

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation (yeshuah)” (Luke 1:76-77)
Or to hear the old priest Simeon, Jesus in his arms, pray to God:
“my eyes have seen your salvation (yeshuah)” (Luke 2:30)

When they spoke of God’s promised salvation, now enfleshed in Yeshua, their
hearts must have leapt as they marveled at the way God works. What’s in a name?
When you confess the name of Jesus, you are saying a mouthful!

Prayer: Yeshua, we praise and thank you that you are our Savior. We confess that
salvation is found in no other name than Jesus. Amen.