“What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare wrote in his famous play, Romeo and Juliet. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
While Shakespeare implied that the name of things doesn’t affect what they really are, that was not the case in Jesus’ day, especially when it came to people’s names.
Think back to the story of Jacob and Esau. Genesis 25 says when the first boy was born he was like a hairy garment, so he was named Esau, which means “hairy.” When the second boy was born, he was grasping the heel of his brother so he was named Jacob, which means “he grasps the heel.” As the story unfolds, we find out just how meaningful this name of Jacob’s really is.
The same was true for Isaac, whose name means “laughter,” inspired by the fact Abraham laughed when God told him he would give Isaac to him and his wife.
Now think about the name Jesus. Joseph was commanded by the angel of the Lord to specifically name his Son, Jesus.
Why? Why this name?
Do you know what Jesus’ name means? The full depth and majesty of his name isn’t grasped initially, because the version we know is in its Greek form, Iesous. Its Hebrew form, however, helps us more fully understand the significance of Jesus’ name—and, more importantly, who he was and what he came to do.
The Hebrew version of Jesus is Yeshua (or Y’hoshua), which means “Yahweh is Salvation, Restoration, and Deliverance” or “God saves, restores, and delivers.”
Of course, that is exactly what God did by sending his Son, Yeshua, to be born of the Virgin Mary: He came to save us, to deliver us, to rescue and restore us!
Though Shakespeare believed names were not important, we know otherwise. The one we call Jesus, by any other name, would not be as precious to us because he did what we could not do ourselves.
He saved, restored, and delivered us because he is salvation, restoration, and deliverance.
And that should give us a tremendous amount of hope this Advent!
Advent Prayer of Hope
Jesus, Name above all names, this Christmas season I praise you for your name because of what it means for me and the whole entire world: salvation, restoration, deliverance, and ultimately hope. Amen.