“You shall call His NAME Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
Looking back as a mother of ten children, I can tell you that one of the most fun and challenging activities leading up to the birth of each child was name selection! We wanted each of our children to have a name which set him or her apart, a name with meaning and a name which they would love as an adult. Reading God’s Word, we cannot help but see the significance of names. For instance, as she was dying, Rachel gave her newborn son the name Ben-oni, the “son of my sorrow”. When Leah decided finally to praise the Lord, she named her son Judah, meaning praise.
The book of Matthew records the genealogy and birth of Jesus Christ following 400 years of prophetic silence. Hebrews chapter one says that just as God had spoken through the prophets, He was now speaking through His Son. What was the first thing that He wanted His people to know through the birth of His Son? I believe that His revelation came by means of the names by which this child was called.
After Mary was found to be with child before her marriage to Joseph, an angel appeared to Joseph to explain the situation to him and to comfort him. Because of the sin of the nation, the people of God had been ruled by one Gentile king after another. Where were the promises of Yahweh? Had He indeed forgotten His people? Four hundred years and no word through the prophets. The angel told Joseph to name this child, a Son, Yeshua, “for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Why this name?
His very name means ‘Yahweh Saves.’ God had not forgotten His people! Matthew further explained that certain prophecies in Isaiah were also fulfilled… “the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God With Us.’ Their God was coming to save them and would dwell among them! John says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ (John 1:14)
After the birth of Jesus, the wise men from the east came to worship the newborn King of the Jews or the Christ. Once again His name tells us who He is. ‘Christ’ is from the Greek word ‘christos’ meaning anointed. It is the same word as the Hebrew ‘mashiach’ or messiah. Kings chosen by God Himself and given authority to act as His representatives on earth were anointed, having sacred oil poured on their heads. So this name tells us that He is the promised and anointed King, the one coming to save them from their sins. And as Immanuel, He was God present among them.
Another less obvious descriptive name is found in Matthew 2:23, “and He came and resided in a city called Nazareth that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’ Interestingly, there is no such prophecy recorded anywhere! It seems that this is a play on the Hebrew word for Nazarene and Nazareth, ‘NetSer’ which is translated Branch. The word Branch is used in Isaiah 11 and other places to refer to the Messiah. We are told that the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon the Branch from the root of Jesse. He will both judge with fairness for the poor and strike the earth with the breath of His mouth. Zechariah says that the man whose name is Branch will build the temple of the Lord. He will bear the honor and sit on the throne as both priest and king. “He shall be called a Nazarene ….Branch.”
There is a day coming when the heavens will open and One will come on a white horse. His NAME is ‘Faithful and True.’ He judges and wages war. His NAME is called ‘The Word of God.’ He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a NAME written, ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’ (Rev. 19). Someday when we see His face and serve in His presence, His NAME shall be on OUR foreheads!
“Behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I am the root and offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22). And the Spirit and the Bride say “Come.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.