A short reading and prayer for today
“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 NLT
Giving a name to a child is a huge moment for parents. If you have ever had that privilege. I am sure you will remember the conversations about the various possibilities. You will probably have thought about names that have been particularly important in your family together with names that you have always liked. But as you make the decision you know that the child will have to carry that name for life, in one form or another, and so you will want to be extremely careful. We have three children and I well remember the long discussions about the various names that we could use. Our third child is called Bethany for the simple reason that that is where my wife and I first met. I was leading a student group around Israel and my future wife was one of the students and we were staying in a cheap hotel on the West Bank very near Bethany. Many have asked us since then what we might have called her if we had met in Bognor Regis or Nuneaton … and I guess the answer is probably Bethany!
Jesus was given his name because that’s what the angel commanded. It was a very common name and has the same root as Joshua, meaning God saves. From the very beginning of his life, it was clear that Jesus had a special mission to the world. There is no doubt that Mary became fully aware that she was bearing a very special son after her meeting with Gabriel during her pregnancy. But I would so love to know what kind of conversations Joseph and Mary had together about Jesus. It must have been a lot for this young couple to cope with and we should be amazed that they handled the situation with such grace and calmness.
Jesus was going to become an inspiring teacher and a miraculous healer, but before anything else he came to be the Saviour of the World. His unique identity as fully man and fully God enabled him to do what no one else could ever do, and set humankind free from their sins.
How important has your own name been to you?
Loving Father, thank you for sending your Son into the world to save us from our sins. Amen