Devotion and Prayer for Week of December 15, 2013

 

Meditation for the week December 15, 2013

 

“She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:21

 

Often in the Bible, a person’s name is an accurate summary of that person’s life. Actually, in the Bible, a person’s name matters and it typically gives us insight either into someone’s personality or into what the future holds for them.

For example, in the Old Testament we find the prophet Micah whose name is actually a question, “Who is like God?”  That fits well with his book because, as he marvels over our God, he asks that very question, “Who is a God like you who pardons sins and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance?” (Micah 1:18).  Jacob’s name means “deceiver” which, if you read through Genesis 27, he more than lives up to his moniker by tricking his father Isaac into giving him the blessing which his firstborn brother deserved.  Biblically speaking, names mean something.  They are important.  And no name in the Bible is more important than the one given to the child of Mary.  Matthew’s gospel tells us that the angel of God told Joseph that the son born to Mary was to be given a special name for this child was special.  He should be called, “Jesus.”

What makes this unusual is that, in the Hebrew culture, the firstborn son was always given the name of the father.  Even though we know that Joseph was not his real father, Mary’s son would have still been named, “Joseph.”  In this case, however, the name of the child mattered.  When the angel told Joseph to name the child “Jesus” it wasn’t just to give Him the name by which He would be called to dinner. His name described the purpose for the Son of God coming into the world on Christmas day!  The name “Jesus” means, “the Lord saves!” The most important message of the Christmas story is the fact that God has come to earth to bring us salvation.

The angel pointed out to Joseph that Jesus was God’s answer to sin. And, we must admit, sin is a universal problem that has affected all of us. Sin is not just one of the many problems in this world; it is “the” problem in this world.  Everything bad that happens, happens because of sin.  Whether it is murder, theft, illness or death, they all have their root in sin.  Even the evil we do in our lives is a result of sin. Sin is from what we need saving!

We rejoice in Jesus’ birth because it is the key to our release from every kind of bondage. Jesus, on Christmas day, was born in the flesh “to do his name!”  And, he “does his name” when he goes to the cross to die for the sin of the world.  Jesus came to save and that is the point of the angel’s announcement.  Jesus came to “save his people from their sins.” That’s what Christmas is about and it’s what the whole life and death of Jesus was about.

This Christmas, we rejoice along with the angels of heaven at the birth of our Savior and we glorify his name for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)!

 

Our Weekly Prayer

Most Gracious Lord, in your goodness and mercy you sent your one and only Son, Jesus our Savior, to save us from our sin.  As we celebrate his birth let us also celebrate his name, holding fast to it as the only name under heaven by which we are saved.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.