This article on Matthew 1:21 is about the meaning of the name Jesus.

Source: The Outlook, 1987. 3 pages.

Matthew 1:21 - His Name Shall be Jesus

And you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins

Matthew 1:21

Joseph has a problem, a big one. The young girl who was to be his wife is pregnant. He knows that he has never been sexually intimate with her and therefore can draw only one conclusion: she has been unfaithful to him. What shall he do? He makes some plans. But an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and tells him how Mary has become pregnant. It was by the Holy Spirit that this child is to be born. Wouldn't it take a lot of faith to believe a statement like this? If we have doubts at times, surely Joseph had more reason to doubt this word. But we do not read of any doubt. The Lord gives him instruction about how this baby is to be born. He must be called Jesus. No other name would be appropriate.

Ordinarily parents give names to their children. The choice of this child's name is not left to Joseph, for he is under a far higher Father, who Himself attends to this im­portant task. Here the heavenly Father gives the name. His name is to be Jesus.

This takes on added meaning when we remember that in the work of the Lord in the history of the Old Testa­ment, names had meaning. Often the name expressed something about the history or character of the children named. Adam was given the task of naming the animals. This likely means that Adam had intuitive knowledge about the animals which he was to name. Moses was given his name because he was drawn from the water. Saul means, "asked of God." That's exactly what his mother had done. The baby which Mary is to bring into the world must be called "Jesus." All of His work would be ex­pressed in this name. No other name would fit.

The meaning of this name is given in the same breath. He "will save His people from their sins." Jesus means "savior." To be saved means to be freed from the greatest evil,

  1. the guilt, pollution, power and punishment of sin; and
  2. to be placed in possession of the highest good, in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

One cannot be saved from something without also being saved for or unto something. Here only the negative aspect is mentioned. Jesus is to save from sin, but also to give to people righteousness, new birth, faith, sanctification, with all the blessed gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as peace, love, joy, and finally everlasting life in heaven.

This deliverance from sin is often forgotten or dis­regarded. People generally speak much more about Jesus delivering us from the results of sin, such as sickness, suf­fering and pain, than about being saved from sin itself. Without a doubt, most of the prayers of church people have to do with desires to be relieved from the results of sin. But then we are still very selfish Surely we may offer such prayers, if in the right way. But we must also recog­nize sin itself, what it is, what it does to us and how it rejects the living God. Sin is an ugly word in our vocabulary. Jesus will save His people from the results of sin, but first of all, from sin itself.

To do this He came into our world, motivated only by Divine love. He had no obligation to come to us. To save His people He came as prophet, priest and king. As prophet He taught us about God for more than three years of ministry, as priest He came to make payment, atonement, on the cross, and as king He came to conquer the devil and deliver us from the power of sin. On Good Friday He died on Calvary's cross, on Easter day He arose from the grave, on Pentecost He gave us His Holy Spirit to make us partakers of all He had earned for us. In our lives God, through Him, causes everything to work together for our good. Even all of what the devil does to us, He con­trols for our good. When we die, our souls are taken into glory, but our bodies are left in the grave where they will rot away until nothing is left. But they can't stay that way, for then the devil would still have victory in some sense. Christ will return in the final day, to bring a grand resur­rection unto life for all His people in a new heaven and earth. With us the victor often also loses much. In time of war the victor loses many lives, properties and other things. Not so with Jesus. He will give a complete victory, so that nothing of sin and evil will ultimately have harmed us. All effects of sin will also be used for our good (Romans 8:28). In the end there will be no trace left of sin and the devil and his works (1 John 3:8). Death and the devil will be cast into the lake of burning sulfur. And the former things will be no more. The Savior's name shall be Jesus — Savior in the fullest sense of the word.

Thank you. Lord!

Literally, the name Jesus means, "Jehovah is Salva­tion." (Sometimes it is put "Jahweh-Salvation.") Jehovah is God's covenant name. As the covenant God He saves. This is what God is in His very being. As the infinitely great God, He is salvation. To save is His pleasure, with all of His attributes of love, wisdom, power and faithful­ness. This God comes to us here on earth in Jesus.

To even begin to appreciate the meaning of this great work of salvation we must remember that man is a slave of sin — in bondage to sin, the Bible says. We can do absolutely nothing to deliver ourselves. We are doomed to everlasting destruction. This is what we deserve because of sin.

People trust in their physical strength, knowledge, reputation, position, or in great and able leaders, but none of these is able to deliver from the dreadful power of sin that is slowly and surely destroying them.

But here is Jesus, whose name is, "Jehovah-Salvation."

Even after we have become Christians sin still clings to us, and we can't do one thing that is free from sin and per­fect. But this Jesus will separate His people from all sin and, positively, give them a glory in heaven that no human mind can even begin to imagine.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

He will save His people from their sins. He will save all His people from the whole world who have lived at dif­ferent times throughout the ages. In this statement we see God's elect or chosen people. He will make atonement for them; in history this has been called "limited atonement." They will receive it only through faith in Him. But even that faith is a gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8). He will be savior in the fullest sense of the term. Salvation will be all His work.

But we must see in this expression, "His people," more than the doctrine. The term is possessive. These people whom He will save belong to Him. They will be His posses­sion. In John 10 the Lord speaks of them as His "sheep," whom He will never let go. What He begins He will finish. Let no one who believes in Him, even though that faith be very weak, be discouraged and despondent regarding his (or her) future salvation.

He will save. There is no if or and, or but about it. And because we belong to Him it will be impossible that this whole "history" of falling into sin and living in sin can ever be repeated. Never again can this happen. We belong to Him. Adam was created "fall-able." But that will never be true of those who belong to Jesus. No one will ever be able to "snatch them out of His hand" (John 10:28).

These, His people, the Lord exhorts to live in faith, and persevere in the way of godliness.

He also encourages them. He knows our weaknesses and frailties. To the young man with palsy, carried on a stretcher He said, "Be of good cheer." When the sea was stormy and the disciples were dreadfully afraid He said, "Be of good cheer, it is I." Later when Paul was in prison and in great need of spiritual strength the Lord came to Him and said, "Be of good cheer."

Daily, through His Word, He says the same to us, espe­cially in times of difficulty, anxiety and fear. He will not be "satisfied" until all of His own, to the very last one, will be at home in heaven with Him and the Father.

That's the comfort and future of all His people, all who believe in Him.

His name shall be Jesus.

How we should celebrate His coming!

His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord.

He's the great Shepherd, Rock of all ages, Almighty God is He;

Bow down before Him, love and adore Him,

His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord.

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