Not Just Your Average Jesus
Feb 2, 2017 2176
Not many people name their children “Jesus” today. But in first century Palestine, it was quite a popular name. It has been estimated that in Jesus’ time 9% of males were called “Jesus.”
We get the name “Jesus” from the four gospels, which were written in Greek. “Jesus” is the Greek form of what would have sounded more like “Yeshua” back then. In fact, there are many people in the Bible with the name “Jesus” with perhaps the most famous one of them being Joshua from the Old Testament, who brought the walls of Jericho crashing down. Yes, it’s the same identical name!
So yes, there were lots of Jesus’ in first century Palestine, but Jesus of Nazareth was not just your average Jesus.
While many parents named their boys “Jesus,” Jesus was given his name directly from heaven, by an angel who told Joseph:
you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).
Right here in the words of the angel is the secret of Jesus’ identity and of his greatness. In English, and most other languages, we shorten names, so that, for example “Ray” is the short form of “Raymond,” “Will” is the short form of “William,” and so on. Hebrew does the same. So the name Jesus/Joshua was simply a contraction of the full name “Jehoshua,” which means “Jehovah is the Saviour” or “Jehovah saves.”
Lots of men bore that name, but none of them bore it because an angel from heaven had announced that “he will save his people from their sins.”
Take a moment to think about that, and when it hits you, just catch your breath. Jesus bears the name “Jehovah saves” because he himself is the one who saves. And if you didn’t get that the first time, the angel then reminds Joseph that the child to be born is truly none other than “God with us” (Matt 1:23). The angel announced that he was Jehovah God himself, born into the world to save sinners. When Jesus later claimed for himself the names and attributes of Jehovah God (John 8:58), so much so that they tried to stone him for blasphemy, he was only saying what the angel had already announced from the beginning.
But as amazing as that is, it isn’t that which startles me the most. It is that when God came to us, he came with the commonest of names. He took for himself the name of the most common person, “Jesus,” in order to save us all: God with us. If God is with us, who can be against us?
He wasn’t just an average Jesus. And because of that none of us have an average destiny any more. You are called to greatness. You are called to heavenly places. You are called to eternity – because he has saved you from your sins. – Eliezer Gonzalez