In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Recently we’ve learnt about the covenant of grace by which God forgives sin and grants eternal life through the mediator Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully human. But why was the mediator called ‘Jesus’?
In our Australian culture the names of children usually don’t have much to do with what their name means. Parents basically choose names for their child because they like the sound of it, they have good associations with the name, or they even want to honour someone by naming their child after that person.
So when we named our daughter Philippa, it certainly wasn’t because it has anything to do with the meaning of her name. Philippa is a Greek name that means ‘Lover of horses’. And let me assure you, we certainly don’t anticipate buying her a pony for her birthday and keeping it in our inner city backyard. Jill and I just liked the sound of ‘Philippa’.
So was Jesus’ name chosen arbitrarily? Did Mary or Joseph or God the Father simply like the sound of the name ‘Jesus’? Was that their reason for choosing it?
Jesus’ name was chosen by God the Father and he then instructed Joseph to name Mary’s son ‘Jesus’: ‘…an angel of the Lord appeared to him [Joseph] in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus”’ (Matthew 1:20-21).
But why the name ‘Jesus’? The rest of the verse explains: ‘because he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).
The name ‘Jesus’ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Joshua’ which means the ‘Lord saves’. And that is precisely what Jesus did. As God, Jesus saved people from their sins by his death.
So the name ‘Jesus’ is a wonderful name to hear. It signifies eternal life in heaven if we will simply trust in the one who bears the name.
So have you trusted in the one who is named ‘the Lord saves’ and so have been saved from your sins and the consequences?
Joel Radford, Preaching Elder.