As we speak the name of Jesus today, let us go in boldness and authenticity to declare His name.
Before I was born, my mom wanted to name me Angel Dawn. After countless complaints by my father, however, she agreed that "Amber" would be a better fit. While my name's origin and story do not have a significant meaning, one name above all other names does, and that name Himself gave me life.
When Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit. This child within her womb would receive the name Jesus, and as prophesied, He would save the people from their sins. But was Jesus His real name?
While the Bible has hundreds of names for God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, one might often ponder why "Jesus" and what that name truly means.
A Real Name
By definition, Jesus Christ was the name that Mary and Joseph gave to Jesus immediately after His birth. It was His real name, translated to mean that He would save the people from their sins.
"She 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, New International Version).
"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31, English Standard Version).
However, in the Hebrew translation, Jesus is written as Yeshua, which English scholars translate closely to the name of Joshua. Because the Old Testament of the Bible was written primarily in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek, many translations have been developed and expanded upon over the last hundred decades.
Yeshua, when found in the Hebrew and Aramaic texts, means Yasha, or to deliver, save, and rescue. Yeshu was thus transliterated to become Yeshua, which is Greek for Yesous, a derivative of Jesus.
What does Jesus' name mean for us today?
While an extended history lesson could be given on the connection between Jesus, Yeshua, and Joshua, it is clear that all three names reveal three pivotal points about God that should transform our relationship with Him:
- God is our Deliverer and Savior.
- I do not know about you, but having a relationship with a personal God who delivers and saves me from my sins and hiccups in life is unfathomable. In Psalm 51:12 of the New International Version Version, the Hebrew word for Jesus, Yeshua, reminds us that Christ alone is our salvation. There is no other name under heaven that saves wretched sinners and gives us life in return.
- "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation (Yeshua) and sustain me with a willing spirit" (Psalm 51:12, New International Version). When we call upon His name and not our own to deliver us, this Psalm and Psalm 40:16 remind us that in His love and salvation, we can have the fullest expression of life. It is His name that sustains us. "May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; May those who love Your salvation (Yeshua) continually say, “The LORD be exalted" (Psalm 40:16, New American Standard Bible)!
- Even when facing temptation and grave difficulty Himself, Christ exemplifies that man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4, King James Version).
- God was human, too.
- In its purest form, the name Jesus reminds us that God sent His only Son in human form to live as fully God and man upon the earth. Jesus was the human name given to the Son of God who would save the people from their sins. He is still that gift today, and He is still the Lord of our salvation.
- As Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, writers of "What the Name 'Jesus' Means for Believers," note: "Etymologically, the name “Jesus” or “Joshua” derives from Hebrew roots meaning “the Lord is salvation.” The Scriptures couple God’s name and salvation to communicate that the Lord, and he alone, saves his people from evil by his sovereign grace. We ordinarily must exercise caution in deriving the meaning of words from their etymology instead of looking to their usage, but the Scriptures explicitly state, 'Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins' (Matt. 1:21). Hence, his name 'Jesus' means that he is the Savior, as John of Damascus observed. Unlike Joshua, Jesus does not merely rescue his people from physical dangers, but gives them victory over the spiritual evil that alienates them from God."
- Because Jesus was human too, He knows the full weight a name holds. When He created us in His image, He knew at that moment every blessing and curse my name would bring to this earth, and yet He loved me the same. How good is it to serve a God who not only knows where I have been but has a splendid plan for where I am going? Genesis 1:26-27 of the New Living Translation states, "Then God said, 'Let us make human beings (man) in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.' So God created human beings (man) in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
- God fulfills His promises.
- Because Joshua comes from the Hebrew name Yehoshua, meaning "God is deliverance," we can attest that God always fulfills the prophecies He has promised. In the Scriptures, it was prophesied numerous times that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and that this root of David would bring redemption. While that promise is one of many, our God is a keeper of promises.
- In Joshua 23:14, God tells another Joshua (not himself, but Joshua who was the personally appointed successor to Moses) that nothing is too hard for Him, and in a sense, I think we know He is not only talking to Joshua but defining the Joshua within Himself. "Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed" (Joshua 23:14, New International Version).
- No matter where you are or where you have been, rest in the promises that God's name alone declares. God is El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1; The Lord God Almighty), El Elyon (Genesis 14:18; The Most High God), Adonia (Genesis 15:12; Lord, Master), and hundreds more things. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, The Alpha and Omega, my Yahweh, my everything. Praise to the one who keeps His word no matter the circumstance. His actions are not dependant on my behaviors because His name is Jesus, and He is God alone. "Praise the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses" (1 Kings 8:56, New Living Translation).
Today, we are so thankful to serve a personal, intimate, relational, and loving God. Simply calling on the name "Jesus" welcomes power and authority in any situation, and He truly is God over all other names.
In Acts chapters 3 and 4, Peter and John heal a crippled man, of which the Sanhedrin's are not a fan. In response to the miracle, these religious scholars deny the resurrection of Jesus and try to shut down the Disciple's ability to speak the name of Jesus. In response, the believer's join together and ask in Jesus' Name to speak His name even more boldly. As we speak the name of Jesus today, let us go in boldness and authenticity to declare His name.
"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:23-24;30-31, New International Version).
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Amber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.