Of the names of Christ one could say there is no end - upwards of 175 or better in Scripture, all told - each speaking of a specific purpose; another role; a separate, yet perfectly faceted aspect of our Lord and Savior’s heart and mind. To endeavor to understand the meaning of all of these names and titles - as to how they stand apart, and how they fit together - would be a venture worthy of a hundred dissertations.
We know Him as The Branch; The Holy One of Israel; Melchizedek; The Shepherd; The Bread of Life; The Beginning of the Creation of God, and The Author and Finisher of our Faith. But there are two specific names by which we know Him best: Jesus, and Emmanuel. We hear both of these names a great deal - especially around the holidays, yet I think sometimes we use them so much, we no longer stop and consider the meaning of what’s being said. The hearing of them becomes so commonplace that they almost lose that “luster” so necessary to provoke us to contemplation.
As many of you probably know, the name Jesus is Hebrew in origin. But as language moves forward, we have the tendency to transliterate, without ever bothering to translate. And as it is often the translation that holds the greater meaning, perhaps we should consider spending some time there on occasion. The name Jesus is actually the Greek transliteration for the name Joshua - or “Yah-shua” if we want to be precise, as there are no “J’s” in the Hebrew Alephbet.
This name has particular Old Testament significance that will be wholly missed by a reader who never makes this connection. For we find in the 34th chapter of Deuteronomy that it was not Moses (The Law) that took the Israelites into the promised land. No, Moses (The Law) got them through the wilderness, but it was Joshua (“Jesus” in the Greek), the son of Nun “full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him..” who took the people into that land. The law couldn’t do it - the Savior had to.
Again we see Joshua the high priest “standing (for the people) before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” in Zechariah chapter 3.
Surely with all of these archetypal events attached to this same name, the name itself must bear some significance. Of course it does. And it should come as no surprise that the name Jesus, or Joshua (Yahshua) means, “God saved” - or perhaps more thoroughly put, “The One who saves God’s people” or “God’s Way of Salvation”. This is what we know Him best as - He is our Savior above all else, and it is written in His Name. We’re told this very clearly by Gabriel in Matthew 1:21, when he speaks to Joseph of Mary’s pregnancy.
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus: for he shall SAVE His People from their sins”. Gabriel gives us the name, then immediately follows up with the meaning of it. Yet just two verses later, we are told of another name from Isaiah 7:13-15, “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, ‘God with us’.”
These names do not stand apart. They do not contradict, or conflict, or contrast. They are perfectly harmonized in form and function. The one an Essence, the other an Office; one what He was and is, the other what He came to do; the Existence, and the Action. He was God in flesh, and He came to save. And thank God He did - because no one else could.
In His Service,
Decisions Based in Christ
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