“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
Some of you know me as “Beth” and some know me as “Dorcas” and if you’re on Facebook, you know me as “Dorcas Beth.” My given name at birth is Dorcas, but after endless teasing in school, pronouncing my name, spelling my name and convincing people it really was a legitimate name, I wanted something simpler. I pulled Beth from my middle name Elizabeth and that’s what I’ve gone by for more than 20 years. Of course my family and friends who’ve known me from way back when still call me Dorcas. Names are important; they are much more than identifiers. To know someone and call them by name (and either name is fine with me) indicates a measure of intimacy.
Most people run through a list of names when thinking about what they want to call their baby. There’s a list of the most popular names (Dorcas has never been on it!) as some names go in and out of fashion. Many chose a family name to honor someone they love. But I don’t know of many cases where an angel came and told someone what to name their baby. God wanted to send a message to the world and even the name of His only begotten Son spoke of His power and love.
“Jesus” – Iesous in the Greek, yehosua in the Hebrew (translated Joshua) – carried the meaning “Yahweh saves.” The Jewish people would hear Jesus’ name and remember that the Lord had saved His people in the past and He had promised to save them again. They took that to mean a military and political salvation as they were under Roman rule. But the salvation Jesus brought was far greater and wider and deeper than that. Through Jesus, Yahweh (Hebrew for “The Lord”) intended to save the entire world. Jesus came to save all people under bondage to sin and death. He brought the salvation of God to all humanity. Beloved, do you know Jesus? More than just knowing His Name – do you know Him as Savior? I pray this Christmas you can say “Yahweh saves – me!”