The angel of the Lord came to Joseph and told him that Mary was with child. “She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Except the angel did not call Him “Jesus.” That is the English rendering of the name. In Greek, the language the New Testament was written in, it is Iesous. But the angel probably didn’t call Him that either.
Joseph and Mary were both Hebrew, and though they possibly knew Greek, the angel most likely spoke to them in Hebrew, or its cousin, Aramaic. In Hebrew, Mary’s son would be called Yeshua, which is a form of the word yeshuah, one of the forms of yasha, the Hebrew word for “salvation.” Those forms, along with another, yesha, appear over 300 times in the Old Testament. Almost every instance refers to the saving acts of Yahweh, the salvation that comes from the LORD.
The primitive root means to be open, wide or free. The range of meaning of its various forms includes: v. to save, help, deliver, defend, rescue, preserve, get victory; n. liberty, deliverance, prosperity, health, welfare (from Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions). Often, it is associated with and is an expression of the righteousness, justice or mercy of God.
So now the angel’s explanation makes sense: “You will call Him Salvation, for He will save His people from their sins.”
All of that is to say this: Salvation is a person. Not just anybody, but a specific person. The Old Testament revealed God as the salvation of His people and of all who call upon His name. The New Testament reveals what that name is and whose it is. He is the source of every kind of salvation we could ever need, of deliverance from and victory over any and every oppressor. He is our help in every situation, our welfare, our healing, our prosperity and our defense. He reveals divine righteousness and justice, the mercy, grace and love of God to us. He is our shalom, our peace, our wholeness.
Salvation is a person. He is called Jesus.
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles
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