Naming the Savior
By Wally Odum
Often a person’s name is an accurate summary of that person’s life. In the Bible a person’s name mattered. In the Old Testament God Himself identified Jacob, “Deceiver,” by a new name, Israel, “Prince with God.” The new name indicated that he now had a new character. Jesus looked at His impetuous disciple, Simon, and called him Peter, which means “Rock.” Elton Trueblood once remarked that it would have provoked laughter among the other disciples when Jesus called unstable Simon “Rocky.”
Because names were extremely important in Scripture, Joseph was given explicit directions by the angel as to what to name the special Child:
“She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
When the angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus it wasn’t just to give Him the name by which He would be called to dinner. It described the purpose of the Son of God’s life. The most important message was the fact that God came to earth to bring us salvation.
The name, “Jesus,” is a combination of the Hebrew Yahweh, or Jehovah and yasha’. The expression in modern Hebrew is Yeshua. The translation of the name is “The LORD is salvation.”
The angel pointed out to Joseph that Jesus was God’s answer to sin. And, we must admit, sin is a universal problem that has affected all of us. I was surprised to learn how a worm gets into an apple. I thought a worm burrowed in from the outside. That isn’t how it happens. Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from inside the apple. An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom. Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out. Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and works out through a person’s thoughts, words and actions. In spiritual terms, we begin life with sin on the inside and need a Deliverer to save us.
We don’t easily face our sins. We are tempted to dodge responsibility for them. Many people think salvation will limit their lives. In truth it means freedom. Salvation frees us to become everything God wants us to be.
We rejoice in Jesus’ birth because it is the key to our release from every kind of bondage. The angel announced it to Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins.” That’s what Christmas is about and it’s what the whole life and death of Jesus was about.
Take advantage of the gift of salvation Jesus still brings. Salvation is within reach because of Jesus. Jesus has come and He can save you from your sins and give you a life that is wide open with possibilities.
© Wally Odum 2010
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Pastor Wally Odum has been in ministry for thirty years and loves to share the Gospel. He brings a relevant, inspirational approach to the Bible. Wally values relevance, but he also values authenticity. His goal is to make Biblical truth relevant to the lives of all who hear him. Visit Wally Odum's Facebook page.
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