Bible Society of South Africa

Call Him Jesus – 18 September 2020

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

31You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.

While reading a book about people in Mexico recently, I was shocked to read about one of them called Jesus. Since childhood, we learned that we should never use the name, Jesus, in vain and here I read about an ordinary person being called Jesus.

Some reading on the Internet revealed that the name Jesus is quite common in Mexico, and other Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries while Chris and Christian, which is derived from the name of Christ, are common in other language groups. There seem to be various historical reasons why people name their children after Him. These reasons are not important to us now, but what is important, is why Mary named the boy, Jesus.

The name “Jesus” has its roots in the Hebrew Yeshua which is the same as our Joshua and the literal meaning is “The Lord delivers or rescues.” The biblical name “Hoshea” comes from the same root. When we look at the difference in the meaning of Hoshea and Joshua we begin to understand something of the vast difference between an ordinary person called Jesus and Jesus of Nazareth.

In Numbers 13:16, we read about the spies who were sent to explore the land. Among them, were Caleb and Hoshea the son of Nun. We see that Moses changed the name of Hoshea to that of Joshua. It does not look like a big change, but it is actually a crucial change of name. Hoshea means “He delivers” while Joshua means “The Lord delivers”. Joshua would become one of the great leaders of Israel because God’s redeeming grace was with him all his life to bring the promise of a Promised Land into being. If still named Hoshea, people might have regarded him as the one who delivered his people, while the name Joshua left no room for doubt about who was the One who delivered them.

That is also the difference between people named Jesus and the one and only Jesus of Nazareth. Joshua and Jesus may carry the promise of deliverance in the meaning of the name, but only in the name of Jesus of Nazareth we can be sure that God will deliver us from sin and eternal death.

Prayer: We want to praise You in the words of a song: “Jesus, Name above all names, beautiful Saviour, glorious Lord, Immanuel, God is with us, blessed Redeemer, Living Word.” Amen

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