This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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.”
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Today we consider the most common name for our Savior, the name given him at his birth: Jesus. It is a name so familiar to us that I wonder if we remember what it means. “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua”, which means “the Lord saves”. Many times, the Bible tells of God giving a person a name, a name intended to send a message. See, for example, the names given to the children of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:3, 8:3) and of Hosea (Hosea 1). When God gives someone a name, we should really pay attention.
The angel comes to Joseph and tells him to give Mary’s baby the name “the Lord saves”, because this baby will save his people from their sins. That is his mission, his purpose, his very identity: Savior. Previously, the angel Gabriel told Mary to give her coming baby the name Jesus and told her that God would give this baby the throne of his ancestor David and that his reign and kingdom would never end. One day the people of Israel would shout to Mary’s son, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9), literally asking this promised descendant of David to save them.
Later that same week Jesus did indeed save. He went willingly to the cross, took upon himself all the sin of his chosen ones, and died to satisfy God’s perfectly just wrath against sin. God placed all our sin on Jesus and placed his perfect righteousness on us who believe in Jesus, the Lord who saves. But as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, no longer do we see a little baby in a manger; no longer do we see a man dying on a cross. We see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he had suffered and died to save his people from their sins. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Within a crib my Savior lay, a wooden manger filled with hay,
Come down for love on Christmas Day: all glory be to Jesus!
Who is like the Lord our God?
Strong to save, faithful in love
My debt is paid and the victory won
The Lord is my salvation.
(Keith & Kristyn Getty)