Two Special Names
As we approach this season of Advent and think again on the coming of our Lord, the words of Isaiah 9 v 6 will no doubt be heard – “He will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” I believe there are 100 or more names attributed to Him in Scripture. And they all tell us something about Him, of His attributes, of the beauty of His character and the nature of His Mission and work. In other words, of who He is and what He does.
In his account of the Christmas story, Matthew speaks of two names given to our Lord that are full of meaning. The first name that he mentions is ‘Jesus’. It was the name the angel instructed Joseph to give to Him. ‘You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’. The name Jesus simply means Saviour. Because every ill in society, every wrong thought or word, every bit of greed, every untruth, all that is wrong in the world has its origin in sin. Sin has invaded the world. Even creation itself is under the curse. And we as individuals have all come short of the glory of God.
But Jesus came to save us from our sins. Wesley said in his beautiful carol – “Mild, He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Because Christmas always points to Easter, His birth always points to His cross. Peter tells in his epistle that ‘Christ died for sins once for all. The righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’.
And for all who have come in humble faith accepting what He has done, then the other name becomes so significant and full of meaning. Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7 when he says – ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son and they will call Him Immanuel’. But Matthew goes on to give us an interpretation of that name. He tells us that the name means, ‘God with Us’. What a wonderful name! What a wonderful truth. God has come amongst us. And the words would imply that He has not simply come into our company, He is not just around somewhere, but rather He is together with us and sharing with us. Because He has taken upon Himself our humanity and understands it perfectly.
Thank God, we do not worship One who is remote and far removed from us. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that He was ‘a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering’. And the book of Hebrews tells us, that He was ‘tempted in every way just as we are and yet was without sin’. He is the one who understands perfectly every experience, every circumstance, every difficulty, every sorrow, everything that life would throw at us. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us because He is forever ‘God with Us’.
There are those who would tell us that God, if He is there at all, is far away and uninterested in us as human beings and doesn’t really care. Well, Christmas tells us something completely different. That God has become as involved in humanity as it is possible to be. So much so that He became one of us. And He has made every provision for mankind that it is possible to make. And it wasn’t just a brief encounter for a time or a season, but He has become eternally involved with us. He will forever be the Man Christ Jesus.
I trust that amidst all the demands and distractions, the duties and the pressures that will undoubtedly accompany this Season, we may take a moment to think again on the mystery of it all. And may we also be caused to wonder and bow down in worship before Him as we reflect on those special names – ‘Jesus’ which means ‘Saviour’ and ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us’.
Senior Supt. Aubrey Jamieson, Shetland