The Powerful Name Of Jesus
Sunday of Week 4 in Advent
The sweetest words that sinful men and women could hope to hear are recorded in today’s Gospel, when the archangel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she was to have a baby boy, and told her “You shall call Him, Jesus.” Now why should the words, “You shall call Him Jesus,” be the sweetest words we sinners will ever hear? I hope this homily will tell you why.
The simple reason is the word Jesus means a saviour. He came to save us from our sins. No other creature’s words or deeds are enough to save us. Not even those of God’s loveliest creature Mary, but it was through her cooperation that we were given Jesus. Mary had a key role to play in our salvation. We are saved solely by Jesus and His cross. The name of Jesus is precious and His works are sufficiently and super abundantly redemptive.
Later in the Gospel we shall read about an angel who appeared to Joseph because he was troubled when he discovered that Mary was with Child. The angel said to him, “Mary will give birth to a son and you shall give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21). Now let us ponder on the name of Jesus, see its meaning and the power it carries.
The name of Jesus comes from the Greek Iesous, which in turn comes from the Hebrew Joshua. The name Joshua has two meanings. The first one is ‘Yahweh help!’ In other words, Jesus means ‘O God help!’ It expresses the cry of a mother in childbirth; it is the cry of a hungry man for help; it is the cry of a person in deep pain. They all cry out, ‘O God help!’ The name Jesus is beautiful. When we pronounce His name – Jesus – it is a cry for help.
Joseph was perturbed and greatly distressed, when he discovered that Mary was pregnant and that he had no part in it. He would have cried out to God, ‘O God help!’ It was then that the angel appeared to him and revealed God’s plan. Mary had conceived not through any man, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Joseph learned the truth about the conception of the Child his agitation ceased. Jesus had helped him. When Joseph cried for help, the angel answered with help from Jesus.
This teaches us that whenever we are desperate for help we can quietly recite the name Jesus and believe that He will help us.
The second meaning to the name of Jesus (Joshua) is ‘Yahweh is Salvation’. This is the popular meaning of the name Jesus. ‘Jesus saves.’ This is what St. Matthew said in his Gospel, “You shall call Him Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Mt.1:21). Long before the psalmist David had prayed, “He will redeem Israel from all its iniquities (Ps. 130:8)
The name of Jesus is not only the sweetest and most precious of all names because it is the name of God’s Son, it is also the most powerful of all names. In the Gospel we read that when the disciples returned to Jesus after their first mission they reported back to Him that even the Devil had submitted to them when they used the name Jesus. (Lk 10:17). St. Paul wrote (Phil 2:9-11) “God has exalted Jesus above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
We also have that lovely story in the Acts of the Apostles when Peter and John went to the Temple to pray and a beggar asked for alms. Peter said, “Silver and gold, I have none, but I give to you what I have; in the name of Jesus, get up and walk.” The lame beggar was healed and jumped around with joy. This was only achieved through the powerful name of Jesus.
Let us conclude with these words,
At the name of Jesus
Ev’ry knee shall bow
Ev’ry tongue confess Him,
King of glory now;
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure
We should call Him Lord,
Who, from the beginning,
Was the mighty Word.