“Do you know what your name means”, I asked the youth group. Following that question, we had a really fun discussion about each student’s name (first and last) and their understanding of its meaning and origin. I was actually pretty surprised that every person had some idea of the origin of their name. A few of them really knew a lot, including the country their name originated in and how their name had developed.
Names used to be a bit more important than they are today. A person’s name could indicate their family occupation, geographic origin, or family heritage…and more. When we picked our children’s names, it was more like, “hmmm…I like the sound of that name,” or “I know a person named such and such.” We didn’t really dwell on the meaning or origin of the name too much (sorry kids!)
As we consider the Christmas season, I’m reminded of how Jesus was named. The Angel of the Lord came to Joseph and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21-22).
The name Jesus can be traced to the Hebrew word yeshua which means “deliverer” or “rescuer”. It is related to the Old Testament name Joshua, which has the same meaning. This ties in perfectly to the Angel’s proclamation to name him ‘Jesus’ since he would be the savior or deliverer of the world.
Actually, Jesus had more than one name. Depending upon your source and what you define as a ‘name’, he had between 100 and 200 names. Some of these are names and some are titles. BUT, who has that many names and titles?! What’s the point of so many names?
I believe that Jesus is given this many names for a reason; it shows the all-encompassing nature of his being and character. Each name represents something unique about his nature and the quantity of his names shows the totality of his person. In line with this is the statement in Revelation,
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev 1:8)
In essence, Jesus is everything.
That said, we all need a Savior and that’s what he came to be. To die on the cross for our sins. To make available the promise of forgiveness and eternal life. To rise from the grave and give us hope for a future.
I asked the youth group to pick which of His names meant the most to them. I chose ‘savior’, because that’s what I ultimately need most.
Which of his names do you identify with most this season?