What’s in a Name?
We all have one. Some of us were given our name because our parents liked the sound of the word, or perhaps it was a family name passed on for generations. It could be the name of someone they value, or maybe the name’s meaning was special to them. Regardless of how our name was chosen for us, our names are our primary identification from infancy until long after we die. We can love or hate our name, but it still remains part of who we are. Einstein, Beyoncé, Coco Chanel, Darwin, Trump… these are just a few names; and yet you know exactly who these people are, even without personally meeting any of them. You may even have very strong personal opinions and emotions regarding some of them.
The name of Jesus may also bring up positive or negative opinions or emotions in us, but these thoughts or feelings are more often related to the experiences or conversations that we have had with others; rather than from an experience with Jesus Himself. In fact, the name “Jesus” is not His original name. Jesus: is the English version, of the Latin version, of the Greek version, of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, which is the combination of the two Hebrew words: “YHWH” and “Shua.”
The beginning of Jesus’ Hebrew name, “Yeh” is the abbreviated form of the Hebrew word “YHWH,” which is the divine name that God gave Himself at the burning bush with Moses, 1200-1500 years before the birth of Jesus. When YHWH is spoken (Yahweh), it means “I AM.” God is the “self-existent one” who fills all space and time. Unbounded by time, He is already in our future while still being absolutely present in this very moment with us.
As powerful as this is, there is even more we can glean from God’s divine name, because every Hebrew alphabet letter has an individual meaning as well. “Y” means hand, “H” means behold, and “W” means nail. So YHWH, when written out, literally means: “Behold the Hand, Behold the Nail.”
The second word in Yehoshua’s name is “Shua.” Now by itself, shua means to be brought low, captured in a pit, bound up, or crying out for help. But when YHWH is combined with shua, the meaning of shua is reversed. With the presence of YHWH, shua means: “what had been in distress, has now been delivered to safety.”
Jesus’ original Hebrew name, Yehoshua, literally means “God my salvation.”
What a revelation. God is amazing isn’t He? What a wonderful and powerful name! Whenever we find ourselves stuck or trapped in shua, we can look to YHWH and see His hands that were pierced by nails, giving us the ability to call out to the one who was, who is, and who will forever be; and by speaking His name – Jesus – He joins us in our distress, and His presence alone transforms our shua from danger to safety. In that moment, He personally becomes: God my Salvation.
What a wonderful thing to celebrate.
Merry Christmas Everyone!