“What's in a name?” asked Shakespeare’s character, Juliet, “That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.” Smell as sweet, maybe, but I can't help thinking that roses are called roses and turnips, turnips for a reason. Although, maybe the Bard had a point. When it comes to the names our parents bestowed on us, or we gave to our children, I doubt the meaning of the name was a big factor.
My mum wanted to call me Alexander, which has a rather distinguished ring to it. But my dad registered the birth and dubbed me Guy. The name means ‘wood’, apparently. I guess the name was chosen more for how it sounded than what it meant. Unless he thought I looked as thick as two short planks. Oh, well. I’m stuck with it now.
When it came to naming Jesus, Mary and Joseph had little choice in the matter. For according to the Gospel accounts he was named by the angel of the Lord. First, Mary was told, ‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’ Then Joseph was informed concerning Mary, ‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus’, with the added word of explanation ‘for he will save his people from their sins.’
‘Jesus’ is the Greek version of the Hebrew name ‘Joshua’, which means ‘the Lord saves’. In Jesus’ case his name could not have been more fitting. The Bible teaches that the Son of God came into the world as a human being to bring us back to God. He lived a perfect, blameless life, died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead. Now we may be saved, by faith in Jesus.
As the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds of old, ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.’
‘What’s in a name?’ In the name of Jesus we find salvation.
*For various local parish magazines