And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Matthew 1:25 The two names given to our Lord. One is ‘Jesus’: the other ‘Emmanuel’. One describes His office: the other His nature. Both are deeply interesting. The name Jesus means ‘Saviour’: it is the same name as Joshua, in the Old Testament. It is given to our Lord because ‘he shall save his people from their sins’. This is His special office.
He saves them from the guilt of sin, by washing them in His own atoning blood; He saves them from the dominion of sin, by putting in their hearts the sanctifying Spirit; He saves them from the presence of sin, when He takes them out of this world to rest with Him: He will save them from all the consequences of sin, when He shall give them a glorious body at the last day. Blessed and holy are Christ’s people! From sorrow, cross and conflict they are not saved; but they are ‘saved from sin’ for evermore.
They are cleansed from guilt by Christ’s blood: they are made meet for heaven by Christ’s Spirit. This is salvation! He who cleaves to sin is not yet saved. Jesus is a very encouraging name to heavy-laden sinners. He who is King of kings and Lord of lords might lawfully have taken some more high-sounding title. But He did not do so. The rulers of this world have often called themselves Great, Conqueror, Bold, Magnificent and the like. The Son of God was content to call Himself ‘Saviour’.
The souls which desire salvation may draw nigh to the Father with boldness, and have access with confidence through Christ. It is His office and His delight to show mercy. ‘God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved’ (John 3:17). Jesus is the name which is peculiarly sweet and precious to believers. It has often done them good, when the favour of kings and princes would have been heard of with unconcern; it has given them what money cannot buy – even inward peace; it has eased their consciences, and given rest to their heavy hearts.
By Bishop JC Ryle