What is in a name?

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Devotional Word for Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Names, particularly in the Bible, have meaning.  Perhaps some of you were named a particular name because your parents had a particular hope for you.  My wife and I named our first daughter Naomi because we hoped and prayed that that she would be pleasant and that providentially there would be pleasantness to her.  If you hadn’t guessed, Naomi means pleasantness to me.  Noah was named Noah by his parents in the hopes that he would fulfill the Lord’s promises in Genesis 3:15 and take away the curse of sin.  Ever wonder why there aren’t too many boys named Ichabod?  Look at 1 Samuel 4 and you will see why.  Names have meaning.

As the Heidelberg Catechism moves through its discussion on the Apostles’ Creed, it turns from the providential care of the Father to the person and work of the Lord Jesus.  As it begins the section on the eternal Son of God, it begins with His name.  Question 29 asks, “Why is the Son of God called Jesus, which means Savior?”  Perhaps you did not know this, but Jesus means he saves.  It is actually the same name as Joshua.  Joshua is translated from Hebrew.  Jesus is translated from Greek and Latin.  In asking this question, the Heidelberg Catechism is asking why we would call our Lord Jesus and not Theodore (which means gift of God) or something else.  The answer says, “Because He saves us from our sins, and because salvation is to be sought or found in no other.” 

The answer to question of why we call Jesus Jesus (literally He saves) is because He saves.  I know that sounds a little anticlimactic, but take a moment and reflect upon it.  There are any number of names that could be rightly used to describe our Savior and Lord.  In fact, there are many names which are used.  Immanuel, Savior, Christ, Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man all apply to the same person.  We could add more title to Him as well.  In addition to calling Him Theodore, we could call Him Epiphauskontos which means the Illuminator after all, He is the light that shines into darkness.  If you don’t agree with that name just ask the apostle Paul about his first exposure to His Lord and Savior.  We could go on and on and on coming up with names and titles for the things Jesus said and did.  Many of them would be good and right.  Yet, the Scriptures call Him Jesus.

Again, the Scriptures call Him Jesus because He saves.  I think this tells us something about God’s heart for His people.  God has purposed to be His peoples’ God and has purposed that His people would be His people.  The only way that happens is if a sinful and fallen people are saved.  In order to be saved, there must be a Savior.  As we have already discussed in walking through the catechism, that Savior is truly God and truly man.  He is our Lord Jesus.  We call Him that because He saves us.  He continues to be with us all the days of our life.  Today, let us praise the Lord Jesus who is also Immanuel not only because He saves us, but because He has come among us and will return.  This means we do not have to name our sons Ichabod for fear that the glory of the Lord had departed.  Let us pray!