The Birth of Jesus

KEY VERSE: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” —Matthew 1:21

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7

“WHAT’S in a name?” is an expression often heard, harking back to a custom in past ages when names were given to people relating to some unique quality or characteristic of the individual or perhaps the occupation to which they or their family were connected. This was especially true in Bible times, with God himself at times changing the name of a person to impress upon them a peculiar relationship they had with him and his purposes. A classic example was Abram, whose name meant ‘father’, but was changed to Abraham, ‘father of a multitude’.

No other name, however, has ever had as important a meaning to the world as that of “Jesus.” Jesus means ‘Jehovah-saved’. When the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream saying the words of our text, he was announcing the birth of one who would be the agency of Jehovah in effecting the world’s salvation, and so an appropriate name was given him.

None Other Name

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) To Jesus his name meant giving himself as a ransom for mankind, to “taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) In fulfilling the meaning of his name he said that “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) When at the last on the cross he uttered the words, “It is finished,” he knew he had not failed the name his Father had given him, “Savior.”

Believe on His Name

“This is his commandment that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (I John 3:23) Belief in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus forms the only foundation for our return to favor with God. Those who are called of God are first justified by having the merit of his ransom, the benefit of perfect human life, imputed to them. The belief necessary to have this accomplished involves a willingness to fully lay down our life in sacrifice, as Jesus did. Belief on the name of Jesus means much more than a mere understanding of him and his life. While knowledge is first necessary, it must lead to an active participation in the same purpose for which Jesus died—that purpose being the salvation of the world from death, and the eventual elimination of sin.

Thou Art the Christ

Throughout the New Testament, the name of Jesus is almost always associated with the name ‘Christ’, our Lord being referred to as Jesus Christ. This is the Greek counterpart of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’, the one looked for who was to come and rule over Israel. Christ signifies ‘anointed’.

David, prophesying of his coming, wrote, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together against the Lord and against his anointed.” (Ps. 2:2) Peter and the other apostles declared that Jesus was this anointed one of God and that these things prophesied did indeed happen. We read in Acts 4:25-27, “Who by the mouth of thy servant David has said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ, for of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou halt anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together.”

Naming the Name of Christ

The opposition of this world to the Christ beginning with Jesus has continued throughout the Gospel Age; for the Christ is not one but many. From the apostles on down, all who have received Jesus’ anointing, and its authorization to jointly rule in his kingdom, have had this accomplished by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them. Through the truth which it revealed they have caught a glimpse of a hope in Christ and the coming glory of his kingdom.

A Name Above Every Name

The Apostle Peter wrote, “That at the name of Jesus every knee [even all his opposers] should how, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”—Phil. 2:10,11

“Thou shalt call his name Jesus.” Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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