Text: Matthew 1:18-25
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
As the wild 1960’s ended many of the hippies and free spirits of that generation got married, had children, and moved to respectable neighborhoods. They didn't name their children normal names like Melissa or Robert. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz California grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. Musician Frank Zappa named his children Moon Unit and Dweezil. Eventually names like these along with, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school.
That's when the kindergarten teachers first met little Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye, and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for little Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.
"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem any stranger than Heather's or Ray's.
At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?"
He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."
Luanne Oleas in Salinas, Calif., Reader's Digest. [Modified]
So, what’s in a name? Well, much if you are a kindergartener and the teacher’s keep calling you Fruit Stand!
Names have meaning especially when it is our own name. But names too mean something. My name Russell means Red. Now, I’m not red headed and I’m not a Jr. so I must assume that my mom named me Russell because that was a name she liked and in the mid to late 50’s the name Russell was at its most popular. Some people that share my name are the actor Russell Crow, basketball star Russell Westbrook and even you might remember Russell Johnson – the Professor from Gillian’s Island. Today the name Russell has fallen out of favor to almost its lowest levels back around 1910.
Things change and names have meaning.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
“Jesus” is the English translation of the Greek name Iesous. The Greek name is a translation of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua is a combination of the Hebrew word for salvation with Yahweh, the name of God. Thus Jesus means “The Lord is salvation or the Lord saves”
The angel told Joseph in verse 21 the reason Mary’s child was to be given this name. “He will save his people from their sins”. God’s Son therefore has this name because of who he is and what he came to do. The name of Jesus is both vocational and missional; it shows that his purpose is to be the Savior.
Rev. David I. Lewis II, STM, professor, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
My last name Tkac has meaning too. It means “weaver” in Slovak. Tkac’s were weavers just as Miller’s milled grain or Mason’s worked with stone or bricks to name a few. Jesus saves.
Why must this child save? Well, God’s people fell into sin. That brokenness required a means of restoration and a way back … a way to be reconciled or restored in the relationship … but sinners sin and grumble and so did Israel.
Regardless of how many blessings the Lord gave to them through his promise … protection … and word through his prophets … they sinned. Even the Kings fell short and wearied men and God.
22 All this took place [we’re told] to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophe [Isaiah]:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
which means, God with us.
God gives the sign through the prophet and then brings and fulfills that sign in Jesus – Immanuel –
God with us – the Lord saves!
The Bible is very blunt about sin – it doesn’t matter how YOU grade your sin, if you don’t accept that you’ve sinned … you can’t fix the problem.
It’s like a man having a deadly disease and experiencing distressing physical problems but doesn’t KNOW he’s going to die ... he’s just afraid that might be the outcome.
So what does he do? Does he go see a doctor? No always.
Musician Warren Zevon on David Letterman back in 2002 said: "I might have made a tactical error by not going to a physician for 20 years,"
Going to the doctor would be admitting that he’s sick and might die and he didn’t want to accept that.
If he doesn’t go to see the doctor – he thinks, then there’s no verdict that he will die. Therefore, he won’t die – he thinks and yes that’s the way some people reason in this life. His shortness of breath proved to be lung cancer that spread. There was no cure and he was dead within the year.
That’s how it is with sin.
God is the doctor.
Sin is the disease.
Dr. Karl Menninger once noted: "The word SIN… has an 'I' in the middle."
I have sinned.
It’s MY problem.
It’s MY guilt.
It’s MY shame
It's MY fault.
But there is a promise, there is a child, there is salvation, his name is
“The Lord is salvation or the Lord saves” His name is Jesus!
Martin Luther says of this gift:
Although out of pure grace God does not impute our sins to us, He nonetheless did not want to do this until complete and ample satisfaction of His law and His righteousness had been made. Since this was impossible for us, God ordained for us, in our place, One who took upon Himself all the punishment we deserve. He fulfilled the law for us. He averted the judgment of God from us and appeased God's wrath. Grace, therefore, costs us nothing, but it cost another much to get it for us. Grace was purchased with an incalculable, infinite treasure, the Son of God Himself."
Martin Luther, Daily Walk, May 5, 1992.
Our loving God and savior Jesus Christ could have left you to the fires of Hell and damnation. It was not His sin for which you and I are condemned but the sins and falleness of this broken and corrupted world. The sin of rebellion is alive and well as seen daily in print, TV and online. Life is directed to self interests rather than to serving others and Christmas has become nothing more than a two month push and economic indicator of the retail wellbeing of our country.
The “Christmas spirit” we are told comes to life as people focus on the joys of giving gifts and celebrating family and friends and the love we share for and with one another. But, true love came down from heaven, in the form of a babe in a manger named Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary who was called by God to this special task.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
And the Angle spoke in a dream:
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Do not fear; Christ has come for you!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.