What Is the Significance of the Name “Jesus”?

Christmas Devotional

by Erik Lutz on December 14, 2010; last featured December 18, 2018

The angel told Joseph to name Mary’s son Jesus. The Bible often discusses the significance of this name.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
The name of Jesus is infinitely glorious because of who it represents.

Why did the angel tell Mary and Joseph to name the baby “Jesus”? Is there some holy significance to this particular sequence of letters or sounds? No, these letters and sounds are different in every language into which the name of Jesus is translated. The name of Jesus is not phonologically unique; it was a fairly common Jewish name and is still used today, though not in English. For example, Jesús is a fairly common name in many Hispanic countries.

“Jesus” is an English rendering of the Greek name Iēsous, which is a translation of the ancient Hebrew Yehoshua. This name is formed from Hebrew roots signifying “Jehovah is salvation” and is translated in our English Old Testament as “Joshua.” The Greek version of this name also refers to Joshua once in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:8).

The name of Jesus is significant because of who it represents—it means “God our Savior.” Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:22–23). He came to earth as a man in order to die in our place and become our Savior. This is why the angel said, “[Y]ou shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

The name of Jesus reminds us about the amazing humility of the Son of God when he came as a man to die. As his followers, we must also strive to show the same selfless humility that Jesus demonstrated while on earth:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5–8)

However, Jesus is not just a name of unmatched humility; it is also a name of infinite exaltation. His name is glorified far above every other name:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11; cf. Acts 4:12)

Praise the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our awesome Savior!


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