What’s in a name? There can be an awful lot of significance in a name, and none more than the name of Jesus, to whom the writers of the New Testament ascribed more names*.
Mary the mother of Jesus was told by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bring forth a Son, and she was to call Him ‘Jesus’. (Luke 1:26-31) He also told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).”’
So what is the significance of the name Jesus? It was a fairly common name at the time of His birth in Bethlehem. Its root meaning was ‘salvation’, which came from the Hebraic name of Hoshea [also Hosea or Osea]. He was the son of Nun, one of the spies who checked out the land of Canaan, and who Moses renamed Joshua [Jehoshua] (Numbers 13:8, 16; 1 Chronicles 7:27).
The name Jeshua was derived from Jehoshua, and in New Testament Greek it is ‘JESUS’, which means Saviour (Matthew 1:21). The Angel Gabriel told Mary that her Son would save His people from their sins (v 21). Nothing could be more significant than that! The Jews were expecting the coming of their Messiah who would be their Saviour. He would liberate them from the occupying Roman forces, and He would establish His kingdom at Jerusalem. He would be their King (John 19:21).
Other Names/Titles of Jesus
The New Testament writers gave Jesus many other names or titles, such as: The Word (John 1:1), the Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16), the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), and the Apostle and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1). Their purpose was to highlight specific attributes and roles of Jesus, all of which were important for the fulfilment of His mission of salvation (John 3:17) and governance (Isaiah 9:6, 7).
To understand the significance of these names/titles one should consider them within the contexts in which they were written. Take for example the title ‘Prophet’ in Acts 3:22, 23: ‘For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’
The context was Peter’s preaching of the gospel to the people (Acts 3:11-26) who had witnessed the healing of the lame man at the temple (vv 6-8). He was raised up ‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (v 6)’, who had Himself been raised from the dead by His Father (Acts 5:30). If those present ‘heard’ the Prophet speaking through the preaching of Peter, and if they were given faith by Him (Ephesians 2:8,9), they too would be raised to life (John 6:44) at the ‘restoration of all things (Acts 3:21)’, i.e., at the time of the second coming of Jesus.
* More Names/Titles of Jesus
Some of the other names/titles ascribed to Jesus by the New Testament writers are: Adam, last Adam (1 15:45), Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6), Bread of Life (John 6:35), Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), Firstborn from the Dead (Colossians 1:18), Good Shepherd (John 10:11), Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Hebrews 13:20), High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), Lamb of God (John 1:29), Light of the World (John 9:5), Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), Mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy 2:5), Only Begotten of the Father (John 1:14), Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) and Son of Man (Matthew 18:11).
The name/title I love most of all is ‘SAVIOUR’ (Luke 1:47); for Jesus has saved me to Himself, and from hell and damnation. He has given me the light of life (Job 33:30). He is the Light of the World (John 9:5).