And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:21-23
What’s in a name? The nature (character, trait or personality) of a person is in a name. Jacob is known as the supplanter, while Esau is known for being red and hairy. The title (function or assignment) is in a name. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham by God. The relationship (affiliations and alignment with God, gods, family) is in a name. Daniel, Samuel, Joel had their names changed to Babylonian names (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego) to align with the gods of that land. Names could also mean the following reputation, power and authority, experiences or simply as a message to others who hear that name.
Joseph’s kingdom assignment (or messianic mission) was to marry Mary and thereafter name the son born to his virgin bride, Jesus. Jesus, or known as Joshua or Yeshua in Hebrew, was a common name (like David or John today). What was different about this Jesus or Joshua or Yeshua? There were some hints in the Old Testament, such as in Acts 7:37, there will be another prophet like him. Or in Numbers 27: 18-23, “After Moses, Joshua is inaugurated and leads Israel across the Jordan.”
The name of Jesus describes His messianic mission or kingdom assignment (Matthew 1: 21). Although the message in the book of Matthew is universal, Matthew was writing to God’s People, people who believed in YHWH but were not necessarily walking in His ways. They have been under foreign rule for the longest time and were looking for their Messiah to save them from these external powers and oppression. Yet, time and time again, God’s prophets reveal that these were only a consequence of an internal condition called sin. God’s people may have been oppressed and conquered by Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks and the Romans. But fundamentally, it was their sin, their rebellion against God’s rule and disobedience to God’s ways that brought their downfall.
What is sin? Ultimately, it means missing or failing in God’s ways, His scope and purposes (assignments) for our lives. Anything outside of God’s purview and purposes is bad news. If God is life, then anything apart from Him leads to death. Before the holy and just God, the penalty of sin is death. We need to be saved from our sins, from ourselves. But first, we need to stop blaming everyone and everything else. Acknowledge that it begins with us.
How does Jesus save and atone our sins? He is a Priest, who represents the perfect sacrifice and substitute. As High Priest, Jesus presents His own blood upon the Mercy Seat once and for all. He is the mediator of the new covenant and He makes intercession for the saints (Hebrews 7:25). He is a King who rules; and has delivered and rescued us from our slavery and bondage to sin. He has conquered the power, dominion and rule of sin in our lives so we can serve a new Master. He saves us into His kingdom. He owns us, or we now belong to Him when we take the name of this King, we acknowledge His ownership. He has complete control and jurisdiction over our lives and He rules and reigns – that is good news.
He is a Prophet who re-aligns our lives. Jesus, the Word declares the word of the kingdom and of Righteousness, and calls all to align, to return to His Word. The prophetic voice is edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3); but we are so afraid of offending people that it has been reduced to “nice” statements that stroke but do not provoke. Paul made no apologies in calling people back to the Word, necessary for the continuing work of salvation which is sanctification
Do not treat God or Jesus like a superhero, who appears and then disappears, waiting for a time to be called upon again. Jesus saves and stays. Some questions to ask are, are you saved and being saved from your sins? How are you making decisions or handling the crises in your life? Are you aligned with Jesus and His kingdom? If you feel forgotten or forsaken by God, remember that God is with us. That is a promise. He provides signs to direct us. He speaks to us through His Word and messengers. His timing is perfect.
Our King knows us by name. Do we know Him by His? We may be almost anonymous but God knows us by name. Know the King, who is both being and doing. This is our God and King who invites us to join Him on mission and assignment.