Eve of the Circumcision and Name of JESUS
Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA
December 31, 2018
When we name a child, we are placing our hopes and dreams into and upon that baby boy or girl. Much thought and care goes into selecting the name. We want the name to sound good. We are perhaps honoring parents, grandparents, or other relatives with the name. Even then, we are not just looking to the past – we want to continue the past into the future.
Joseph and Mary, however, are not given the opportunity to name this Child. God Himself gives the name: JESUS. Tonight let’s briefly consider (1) what this name means; and (2) to whom it is given.
Jesus is the way we say it in English. In the Greek New Testament it’s Iesous, adapted from the Hebrew Yeshua, or Yahshua which also goes into English as Joshua.
Jesus —> Iesous —> Yeshua/Yahshua —> Joshua
Jesus and Joshua, you see, are the same name, they just come into English through different routes, so they sound a little different. But they’re the same name, just like John / Juan / Jan / Johann / Ivan are all the same name.
It would be just a linguistic curiosity that Jesus and Joshua are the same name, except for the significance of Joshua in the Hebrew story. What did Joshua do?
Joshua was the successor of Moses; Moses started the exodus, but Joshua finished it. Moses the Law-giver couldn’t enter the Promised Land; Joshua had to finish the job. Joshua leads the people out of the wilderness, across the Jordan, and conquers all their foes.
All of this shows us that Moses wasn’t enough; the Law wasn’t enough; the sacrifices weren’t enough. Something more was needed. Someone more was needed.
The Old Testament Joshua himself wasn’t enough. He couldn’t finish the job. He died.
Another Joshua was needed. One who would fully and completely fulfill the name.
For the name Joshua, or Yahshua, means Yahweh Saves.
The Son of Mary is the Son of God. This Yahshua, this JESUS, is YHWH in the flesh. From what does YHWH save us? The angel told Joseph in Mt. 1:21, “[Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The wages of sin is death; to be saved from sin is to be saved from death. That’s who this JESUS is; He is YHWH, God in the flesh, come to bear our sins in His flesh and to trample down death by His death.
So that’s what the name means. But to whom is it given? The Son of Mary bears the Name JESUS, but the Name is given to you. The Name is God’s gift to you. You can use the Name.
We hurry through this world gathering money and stuff, but what we accumulate cannot save us. We call upon our parents for help, but in death they forsake us. Politicians promise but they cannot deliver.
But this Name, JESUS, is given to you, so that you can say, YHWH, save me! JESUS, help!
This name JESUS drives away demons. The name JESUS is light in our darkness. The name JESUS delivers us from death.
We do not know if this new year will be our last. But do not wait until your deathbed to use the name. Let it be the joy with which you ring in the new year; let the name of JESUS be your joy in every waking hour.
Forget the past, your sins and your apathy. You are a bearer of the NAME. The Name JESUS is this night God’s gift to you. With joy, bear that name out into the battlefield of your callings. Let it illumine every dark hour. JESUS is your Help! YHWH saves! Call upon His NAME in the day of trouble; He will deliver you, and you will glorify Him. +INJ+