I’ve always wondered about the name Jesus.
In Matthew and Luke, we read the angel of the Lord specifically told Mary and Joseph to name their son Jesus. Later, Paul tells the church in Philippi that Jesus is the name above every name (see Philippians 2:9).
Why is the name of Jesus so important? Certainly, He could have fulfilled His mission as John, Paul, Billy, or Bob. (Like Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name….)
It wasn’t until I studied Greek at the Bible college that I had my answer.
Mining for Meaning
The New Testament was recorded in Greek because that was the language of the land. However, Jesus was Jewish, so He would have been given a Jewish name, and He would have spoken Hebrew as well as Greek.
The name Jesus, as it is written in the New Testament, is from the Greek word Iesous (Strong’s 2424).* If you look this up, you’ll read that it’s simply a name, and that it’s not unique to Jesus Christ.
However, Iesous comes from the Hebrew word Yehowshuwa (Strong’s 3091), or as we know it, Joshua.* This is actually a combination of two words: Jehovah (Lord / God) and saved.
The name Jesus means “the Lord saves.”
Above Every Name
That’s why the angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NAS).
And that’s why Paul said it’s the most important name (see Philippians 2:9). It summarizes the very message and mission of Jesus. It’s the gospel wrapped up in a single phrase.
And that phrase—the Lord saves—was given to Jesus as a name so it would be a sign for all who would understand: Jesus is Lord, and He saves.
This Easter, let us remember that Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins. This is why He was born, why He died, why He rose from the grave, and why He continues to speak to God the Father on our behalf (see Acts 5:30-31).
If you know Jesus as your Savior, then thank Him for who He is and all that He has done for you.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus yet, then I encourage you to do so now.** The good news is that He still saves.
* The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of Bible, by James Strong. This is a great tool to locate words in the Bible and to research their meaning, whether they were written in Greek or Hebrew.
**A simple prayer is all it takes. Here’s a suggestion: Jesus, I acknowledge that you are God and I have sinned against you. I ask for Your forgiveness. Come into my heart. I’m Yours.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NAS)