A Man called Jesus.
ONCE WHEN I FLEW INTO SAN FRANCISCO FOR A SPEAKING engagement, a man picked me up at the airport and took me to a restaurant on the coast. He was alert, sharply dressed, and excited about the Lord. He seemed to have boundless energy, and his eyes sparkled. Over lunch, he handed me an old snapshot. "Do you recognize this man?" he asked.
I studied the photograph but drew a blank. The man in the picture was old and weary. His stringy hair was matted, his eyes glazed over, his skin blotched and unhealthy. Handing the picture back, I shook my head. "It doesn't ring a bell," I said. "Is he someone I should know?"
"It's me," he said, smiling. "This is my before picture. This is what I was like before I met Jesus as my Savior."
It was a welcome reminder to me that Jesus saves. He salvages. He restores and renovates us. And His mission is bound up in His name. From one perspective, there was nothing unusual about the name Jesus. It was a common designation in the biblical world, and many Jewish parents called their boys Jesus, up until the second century. In some cultures, it's still popular. The Bible records four other men named Jesus (see Col. 4:11, for example). This name therefore speaks of His humanity, His ordinariness.
But it also speaks of His extraordinariness. Jesus is the New Testament version of the Old Testament name Joshua, and it comes from two shorter Hebrew words-the name Jehovah coupled with the verb to save. Literally, "Jehovah Saves" or "Jehovah Delivers."
That explains the angel's message to Joseph: "You shall call His name JESUS [Jehovah Saves], for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). This name embodies His mission and conveys His purpose: to seek and to save those who are lost, to seek and to save people like my friend in San Francisco, and people like you and me.
Jesus! Name of wondrous love, Human name of God above! Pleading only
this, we flee, Helpless, O our God, to Thee.
-WILLIAM W. HOW, 1854
Copyright © 2005 by Robert J. Morgan