Verse of the Week:
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
This week’s verse is one of the most recognizable verses in the Advent story. But, have you ever wondered why the angel Gabriel’s statement, “He will save His people from their sins,” necessitated that He be named Jesus? I used to wonder about this when I was a child. On the surface it did not make sense to me. But, I just believed it and accepted it, because the Bible tells me so.
Fast forward many years to when I began to study into the original languages behind our English translations, and I began to uncover a treasure trove of deeper meanings.
For instance, I have learned, much to my excitement, that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew and it was later translated into Greek. This is attested to by a number of early church fathers. Why is this important? For one thing, our verse this week contains a Hebrew word pun that is readily recognized and understood by Hebrew speakers, but is entirely lost on Greek or English speakers, unless it is explained to them. (For more on this subject, click here: https://onscripture.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/the-hidden-name-of-god-session-4/.)
Here is a more literal translation of this verse from the Hebrew version:
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Yeshua, for yoshia His people from their sins.”
The word pun is “Yeshua yoshia.”
I think I hear you saying, “Ok. And this is important why exactly?” Let me explain.
Yeshua is a shortened form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua which is usually translated as Joshua. This was actually a very common Israelite name. Hebrew names have meanings and in the Bible were often given prophetically. Many are theophoric, meaning they contain a form of the name of God – Yehovah (Jehovah) – in them as a prefix or suffix. Yeshua (and Yehoshua) means “Yehovah is salvation.”
Now, back to the pun. The Hebrew word yoshia means “he will save.” So the meaning of Matthew 1:21 is: “Call Him “Yehovah is Salvation”, because “He will save” His people from their sins!”
In Western culture, we tend not to attach meaning to our names. But, every time the Israelites heard the name Yehoshua (Joshua) as he led them into the promised land, it was a reminder that their LORD (Yehovah) would save them from the Canaanites as they took possession of the land. Now, every time we hear the name Yeshua (or Jesus) we know that He Saves us from our sins!
Live it out this week
When you read the Christmas story this year, and whenever and wherever you read or hear the name of Jesus, remember that His name reveals His nature and the mission that He was sent to accomplish. Gabriel told Joseph what to name Him before His birth, because He would fulfill the mission He was sent to do, exactly as foretold.
If you feel comfortable, practice calling Him by His Hebrew name. It can help to reconnect Yeshua to his Jewish heritage. He was born to a family of the tribe of Judah, in the lineage of David, just as prophesied. If not, that’s ok, too. Just remember Jesus Saves!!
Father, thank You that none of your words are wasted and none will fall to the ground without accomplishing what you intend. Thank you for sending Your Son, Yeshua to save us. In His name, Amen.
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