Our thoughts turn to the first use of the name, when the Child who was yet to be born was named Jesus. The person to whom that name was first revealed was Joseph: a carpenter, a humble man, a working man, unknown and undistinguished except by the justice of his character.
It is not, therefore, a title to be monopolized by princes, sages, priests, warriors or men of wealth. It is a name to be made a household word among common people! He is the people’s Christ.
The name of Jesus was sweet from the start because of the words that accompanied it, for they were meant to remove perplexity from Joseph’s mind: “Fear not.” Truly, no name can banish fear like the name of Jesus! It is the beginning of hope and the end of despair! Let the sinner hear of the Savior, and he forgets to die! He hopes to live! He rises out of the deadly lethargy of his hopelessness and, looking upward, he sees a reconciled God and no longer fears.
At the time when the name was given, His full person had not been seen by mortal eyes, for He lay as yet concealed. But soon He came forth, having been born of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. A matchless man, He bears our nature but not our corruption! He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but in His flesh there is no sin! This Holy One is the Son of God, and yet He is the Son of man!
The name of Jesus is a name divinely ordered and expounded. According to the text, the angel brought a message from the Lord and said, “You shall call His name Jesus.” It is a name that—like He who bears it—has come down from Heaven. Our Lord has other names of office and relationship, but this is His own personal name.
And it is the Father who has thus named Him.
The name is the highest, brightest and noblest of names. It is the glory of our Lord to be a Savior. To the best that was ever born of woman, God has given the best name that any son of man could bear. Jesus is the most appropriate name that our Lord could receive.
The Father knew Him perfectly, and He named Him Jesus. We may be sure, then, that our Lord is, most of all, a Savior, and He is best described by that term. God, the Father, who knows Him best, sees this to be His grand characteristic: that He is a Savior and is therefore best represented by the name Jesus.
God, who cannot be mistaken, calls Him Jesus, a Savior. Therefore, a Savior He must be, a Savior on a grand scale—continually, abundantly and in a most apparent manner! And God will not refuse to accept the work that Jesus has done, since by the gift of that name, God has commissioned Him to save sinners. When we plead the name of Jesus before God, we bring Him back to His own Word and appeal to Him by His own act and deed.
He is not a Savior of our own setting up, but God the everlasting Father has set Him forth as our Deliverer and Savior, saying, “You shall call His name Jesus.”
It is a name that the Holy Spirit explains to us, for He tells us the reason for the name of Jesus: “For He shall save His people from their sins.” “Savior” is the meaning of the name, but it has a fuller sense hidden within, for in its Hebrew form it means, “the salvation of the Lord,” or, “the Lord of salvation,” or “the Savior.” The angel interprets it, “He shall save,” and the word used for He is very emphatic.
Joshua of old was a savior. Gideon was a savior. David was a savior. But the title is given to our Lord above all others because He is a Savior in a sense that no one else can be—He saves His people from their sins!
The Jews were looking for a Savior. They expected one who would break the Roman yoke and save them from being under bondage to a foreign power. But our Lord came not for such a purpose. He came to be a Savior of a more spiritual sort and to break quite another yoke by saving His people from their sins.
The word save is very rich in meaning. Its full and exact force can hardly be given in English words. Jesus is salvation in the sense of deliverance and also in that of preservation. He gives health. In the fullest and broadest sense, He saves His people.
The original word means to preserve, to keep, to protect from danger and to secure. Jesus brings a great salvation, or as Paul says, “so great a salvation,” as if he felt that he could never estimate its greatness (Hebrews 2:3). He also speaks of it as “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), even as Isaiah said, “Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation” (Isaiah 45:17, NKJV). Glorious beyond measure is the name Jesus, as it is divinely expounded to us. For by that very exposition, the eternal God guarantees the success of the Savior!
Indeed, He is the Savior because He is also Emmanuel, God with us! And as soon as He was born and so became Emmanuel, the Incarnate God, He became by that same fact Jesus, the Savior! By coming down from Heaven to this earth and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man! By suffering in that human nature and imparting through His divine nature an infinite efficacy to those sufferings, He removed that which would have destroyed us and instead brought us everlasting life and salvation!
O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love Your music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another that rings in my ears, the name Emmanuel: God with us! Our Savior is God and therefore able!
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), called the “prince of preachers,” was pastor of metropolitan tabernacle, London, for 38 years. Adapted from The Metropolitan Pulpit, Vol. 24, 1878, #1434. Work is in the public domain.