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Jesus: An Ordinary Name?

Evangelist, preacher and a leading Bible scholar
Sep 13, 2010
Jesus: An Ordinary Name?

The angel came to Joseph and announced the name, "You shall call His name Jesus." It was just an ordinary Jewish name, about as common in Judea as John is common to us. The name had not the significance that we understand today. It was a beautiful, Jewish boy's name, a common name of the common people. But here, as everywhere in the great spiritual movement, God took hold of the commonplace to show that there was something infinitely more than the common.

Jesus is a Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, meaning Savior. Other men have had that name. Many a mother called her boy Joshua in the hope that he would be a savior and break oppression and set the people free. Now the angel said: Give that name to this Boy; "It is He that shall save His people from their sins." Take the human name, sweetest of them all, and give it to the Child of the Holy Mystery; the Child Who is not of Joseph, but of God. Tell His sweet mother Mary to give Him this name Jesus. Moreover, the name means "Jehovah Salvation."

Mark the intention of it. They are "His people." Give Him the name as one of His people; calling Him by the ordinary name of His people; He is coming to identification with them. They are under a yoke, eating curds and honey; He is coming to eat curds and honey with them, as the prophet said. They are an oppressed and a devastated people; He is coming to identification with them; give Him the name signifying identification in all its deepest meaning. He is coming to suffer.

Then mark how the angel told heaven's secret in heaven's language. What the people thought they wanted was a Joshua who could reveal himself to this material Jerusalem as King, break the power of Rome, and set up an earthly Kingdom. The angel said the deeper trouble was not that of the Roman yoke; or that they had been beaten in battle; the trouble with them was that they were sinners - "He shall save His people from their sins." He will not come to battle with externalities, but to grip sin at its heart.

Adapted from The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 1, by G. Campbell Morgan.


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