Over the next month or so, I shall be reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew and ‘pondering Jesus’ – thinking about who He is, and what that means for us. In so doing, I hope to delight more in my Saviour; and if I am able to help you (reader) to do so too, then even better!
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)
What’s in a name?
I often think of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, and so on, when I consider Jesus’ identity. All of this is true. But when considering these “titles”, I often neglect the name Jesus itself. In our modern context, we don’t think much – if at all – about names. For example, I have many friends called “Victor”, but never have I consciously associated them with being victorious, regardless of how successful they are.
The name Jesus, however, bears closer scrutiny. It is Yeshua‘/Yehoshua‘ (Joshua) in Hebrew, meaning “Yahweh saves” (ESV Study Bible). And in the text above, we know the reason why he is so called: “for he will save his people from their sins.”
God came down in human form in the person of Jesus. And why did he come? He came to rescue his people from their sin, which leads to death and destruction. This was his main purpose. This rescue mission was so central to his purpose that it was even encapsulated in his name!
Sin is a big deal – that’s why we needed rescuing. But it is such a wonder of mercy that God himself would come down to save us. And notice how certain this salvation is: ‘he will save his people’. When we think of Jesus today, or when we call out to Him in prayer, let us remember that He is the God who saves.