What's in a Name?

Carlo Mendoza 

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

“What's in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  This quote was made famous by William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.  The original idea behind the phrase suggested that we should not be overly concerned with names, especially if it interfered with young love.  Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague were teens who fell madly in love with each other, but the problem was that their families despised each other.  Since their love could never be, Juliet expressed how meaningless a name can be.

However, in the day and age when Jesus was born, a name was not only used to identify a person, but it also designated who the person was, even suggesting their exact traits, and in some cases their very destiny.
During Christmastime, we can be so easily distracted by our shopping lists and holiday decorations that we lose sight of the real reason we should celebrate this wonderful season.  In the naming of this Christmas child, we are given three insights into why the Son of God came to earth.  These three reasons can be found in a name:

1. In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, we read of an angel of the Lord telling Joseph what to name the miracle Baby, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Jeshua or Joshua and it literally means “Jehovah is salvation” (God saves).  Here we are reminded that God came down to rescue us.

2. At the end of the genealogy of Jesus we read, “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16).  Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one”.  It is equivalent to mashiach, or messiah in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, to be anointed was to have sacred oil poured over one's head symbolizing God's selecting a person for a special assignment.  We see this occurrence of anointing during the coronation of a king.  This imagery along with other prophetic texts in the Bible reminds us that God came down to reign over us.

3. We also see another name given to Jesus in the fulfilling of Isaiah’s prophecy, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23).”  Once again, we are given another reminder that God came down to reside with us.

· Have you been rescued by God?  If so, celebrate Jesus your Savior!
· Is God reigning in every part of your life?  If so, celebrate Christ your King!
· Do you appreciate that God resides both with and in you?  If so, celebrate Immanuel your Friend!

If this is not the case, I encourage you to embrace the One whose name is above all names, and the only name that brings salvation, Jesus the Christ!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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