All of us have names and one of the great responsibilities of parenthood is to give our children names. We want to give them names that we think they will enjoy and that will be used freely by the people around them. Of course not all children like their names and some young people change their names as they get older. Often our names just become shortened or abbreviated in some way into ones that are more user friendly. In the gospel story an event is recorded that takes place before the birth of Jesus in which Jesus’ name is supplied by revelation in a dream from the Lord to his father Joseph. God tells Joseph that you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.
The name Jesus is a Greek form of the name Joshua, which means “the Lord saves” so Jesus name actually has meaning and it’s a meaning that indicates what he has come to do. It was given to him for a reason. It was given to him because that was his purpose and his destiny. My name is Christopher which means bearer of the cross of Christ. It’s an amazingly appropriate name for me because that is what I do! In different ways as a vicar I testify to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The name Christopher was given to me by my parents before I was born. My name indicates what I do and Jesus’ name indicates what he does, which is to be the saviour of the world. He came to save us from the penalty of our sin so that we can be forgiven, live lives in fellowship with God and receive the gift of eternal life. We are saved from something and for something. Jesus saved us from hell and for heaven. The saviour is born. He is the one who has come to transfer us from the the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of his marvellous light. Jesus saves us from death for life and that is the real meaning of Jesus’ name and of Christmas.
Rev Dr Christopher Noble – Rector
St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo