Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 23, 2002
Pastor's Column

What is the meaning and significance of Jesus' names?

By Rev. Martin Schoenfeld
St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

Think back to a time when your child was born, or someone you knew was going to have a baby.

A common question asked is, "What is the child's name going to be?"

Sometimes we may name our children after our parents or grandparents. Other times we will name our children after a Bible character or another person in history whom we have admired.

People may even name a child after themselves. At times the name of a child has great meaning attached to it, and other times it does not.

This month we will celebrate the birthday of someone very special.

Mary and Joseph were going to have a child. It would be a son. But what would His name be?

In Matthew 1:21 the angel of God spoke to Joseph and said to him concerning Mary: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21).

The name Jesus is a very meaningful name. It means "The Lord saves." It identifies what Jesus was going to do. He would save His people from their sins.

Another well known reference to Jesus is the name Christ. Christ is the Greek form of Messiah. It means "The Anointed One." Jesus is the one anointed, He is the one promised in the Old Testament, who would come and defeat sin, death and the power of the devil for us.

Jesus the Christ, this is a very meaningful name and title, which was given to the baby born on Christmas night.

But, did you know that in the Bible there are well over 200 different names or words used to describe the child born on Christmas night. All these names are all very meaningful. Jesus is His true God-given name. But in the Bible there are many other names used to describe this Lord and Savior of ours.

I just used two more of these names ­ Lord and Savior. These names describe who He is and what He has done.

Recently my father-in-law searched the King James Version of the Bible and he came up with a list of 227 different names used for Jesus. Each one of these names has its own unique emphasis as it describes some aspect of this miraculous child whose birthday we will be celebrating this month.

I would like to consider just a few of those names with you. In Matthew 1:23 we are told that "they will call Him Immanuel ­ which means 'God with us."

I like this description of Jesus ­ God with us. Jesus is true God, and He has taken upon Himself human flesh to come and be with us. God has come as a little baby to be with us sinners. We will never be alone in this world, for Jesus is our Immanuel. He is God who is with us.

Jesus is also referred to in the Bible as the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). Today we might say He is the A and the Z.

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. It is another way of saying Jesus is eternal. He is the beginning and the end. In fact, we know from Holy Scripture that Jesus has no beginning nor an end.

Jesus, who was born as a little baby on Christmas night, who came to be with us and to save us from our sins, is eternal. As true God, He has no beginning and no end.

Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:1 1). He rules over all of creation. There is no king in this world who is above the child in the manger. The baby born on Christmas night is ruler over every authority in this world.

The good news for us still today is that Jesus rules as King and Lord over everything else for the well being of His church.

Another famous name of Jesus which we hear about in this Christmas season comes to us from Isaiah 9:6 ­ "Prince of Peace." The entire world searches for peace. Many people promise us peace or solitude here or there. But, there is really only one individual who can truly bring us peace.

The Lord Jesus, through His suffering and death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, is the one who has come to bring us peace with God. Now, because of Jesus our sins are forgiven. We now have peace with the Lord Almighty.

In John 1:29, John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God. In the Old Testament the people of God brought lambs and other animals to be sacrificed at the temple for their sins.

Today we no longer bring animals to church for sacrificing. We have the one perfect sacrifice. Jesus is "The Lamb without blemish." He is perfect, and He has given His life upon the cross for our sins. Jesus is "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

We must never forget that Jesus who came as the perfect sacrifice for our sin is the Son of God (Luke 1:35). The baby born in the manger was no ordinary child. He is the Son of God who has come to take away our sin.

These names of Jesus are only a few. There are many other names which bring us comfort such as: The Good Shepherd (John 10:11), Light (John 1:9), Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4), Star (Numbers 24:17), Thy salvation (Luke 2:30), Savior (Luke 2:11), and many others.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birthday of a baby, let us never forget who this baby is. He is Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Christ, the Good Shepherd, the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, and so much more.

Oh come let us worship Him and adore Him, Christ the Lord.


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