It’s in the name

I can still remember the first time I found out that names had meanings. It was one Sunday at Sunday School. The teacher had asked us if we knew what our names meant. We must have looked back with a confused expression because she ploughed on and began to tell us.

My friend Richard was first. He waited with baited breath to find out that his name meant ‘strong ruler’. Next up was Nicholas, ‘victory of the people’. By the time it got to me I was feeling fairly confident that my name might mean something grand and important.

‘What do you think your name means, Paul?’ I had no idea so I eagerly waited for the reply. ‘It means small.’ That’s not what I expected and I can still remember my 6 or 7-year-old self feeling so deflated. As I looked around the room small seemed just about right.

As you read this article Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas means all kinds of different things to all of us. For many, though, it is the time of year when we remember the birth of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago. Thinking of that, I wonder if you’ve ever asked the question, ‘what’s so special about the birth of Jesus?’ The answer is actually found in the name.

The name Jesus means ‘God saves’ or you could put it like this, ‘a rescuer from God’. One night Joseph, who was engaged to be married to Mary the mother of Jesus, had a dream. In that dream God sent an angel to tell Joseph about Jesus. The angel said, ‘you shall give him the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).

Recently we had some visitors to our church car park. The Air Ambulance had been called to Whittlesey to assist in a situation. Our car park was empty so they landed there and set out to help. Someone was in need, they had come to help. This is the type of picture the Bible paints for Jesus. The world was in need, he had come to help.

God gave Jesus his name because it described who he was and what he would do. Jesus did many things in his life. He taught people about God and he did lots of miracles. Yet, neither of those were the reason he came. The Bible tells us he came to die to save people from their sin. That’s why his birth was such a special occasion.

Over the Christmas period we’re having some special Christmas services. If you want to know more about the birth of Jesus and how he could make a difference in your life then these are a great place to start. All that remains now is to say I hope that you all have a very happy Christmas.