Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Common Name, Uncommon Purpose

Rev. Alex Kolath
MTC of Baltimore, MD
21b ...and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

Joseph was undoubtedly going through a tough time having heard that his soon-to-be wife is pregnant – and he isn't the dad.  While he was considering divorcing her, an angel comes to him and says to marry her.  The child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit.   I imagine Joseph’s headache just got bigger.  The angel goes on to say that she will give birth to a son, and Joseph will name him Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t an uncommon name.  It is basically an English translation of the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which in English is translated Joshua (did you get that?).  It means “the Lord is salvation.”  To name a child Jesus isn’t that big a deal.  But the angel goes on to explain why Joseph should name him as such:  Jesus will save his people from their sins.  I imagine Joseph losing his breath, appetite, and perhaps a heartbeat or two.

Even though this is disturbing news, it is good news.  It is good news to Mary because this is what keeps Joseph from leaving her.  It is good news to Joseph because his betrothed is innocent (and chosen by God to do this wonderful thing).  It is good news to Israel.

I don’t know if Joseph knew that meant Jesus had to die to accomplish that, but Joseph surely knew that Israel was in need of saving.  Israel was going through dark days.  Because of their sin, they lost their land, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. 

Even though they eventually came back and rebuilt the temple, it still didn’t belong to them.  And now, they’re under the rule of the Roman Empire.  Things were going terribly for the Hebrews, and they knew it was because of their own sin.  Finally, God is bringing salvation.  Finally this boy will save them from their sins.  I imagine Joseph’s heart sinking, knowing that God is answering the cries and prayers of his people through this boy.

We’ve been living in dark days, living in the consequence of our sin.  None of us are righteous.  We need salvation.  That is why Christmas is so important to us.  It marks the day that God said, “I will come to you and save you from your sins.”  This wasn’t just good news to Joseph, to Mary, to Israel, but to all of us. 

As we approach Christmas day this season, let us meditate on why Jesus even had to come.  Reflect on the dark days of your life as you lived in sin (pride, greed, lust, addiction, anger, idolatry, etc.), and how much you need Jesus in your life.  When Christmas day comes and we celebrate his birth, we don’t just simply sing carols and open gifts, but we humbly thank the Lord, because he has come in the midst of our darkness, and saved us from our sin.


Lord, in the midst of my darkness you came to me.  Let me never forget how much I need you, because without you, there is no salvation, there is no hope, there is no joy.  Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to be that salvation. Amen
He might have had a common name, but Jesus had an uncommon purpose: to save you from your sins.

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