One of the delightful tasks of parenthood is agreeing the name for a new-born child. Whether or not the sex of the anticipated child is known in advance, parents must wrestle with this task.
There is the danger of alienating a family member by the choice of name, or , worse still, inflicting on the unsuspecting infant a name which will be an embarrassment for life. While Joseph and Mary had the immense privilege of providing a home for the Messiah, they were denied the privilege of selecting his name. The angel who broke the news of Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph was quite emphatic; ‘You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’(Matthew 1; 21)
Think of the names this devout Jewish couple might have considered, if they had been given the opportunity to name the child. They might have thought of Moses, the liberator, the man who led his subjugated people from slavery in Egypt. Moses, besides, had given them the law, a code more humane than any among the surrounding nations. So towering was his impact that one entire section of the Old Testament was simply known as Moses( Genesis to Deuteronomy). Yet while the law may restrain the heartless, as Martin Luther King observed, it cannot change the heart.
His parents might also have thought of calling him Solomon. His name is synonymous with wisdom, having penned 3,000 proverbs, and astonishing the inquisitive Queen of Sheba with his sagacity. Yet Solomon failed to exercise the same wisdom in his private life, allowing pagan wives to rob him of spiritual power. Besides knowledge and wisdom are not always applied to beneficial ends. The technology which brings us Facebook, also brings trolls and threats.
His parents might also have though to calling him Aaron. Aaron may have been weak and easily leaned on, but he was the founder of the Jewish priesthood. But religious people often fail to show the transforming power of the faith they profess. As has been often said, ‘What we really need is not more Churchianity but more Christianity.’
All of these possible names for the child could not match the one he was given, Jesus, which means ‘Saviour’. The American Max Lucado wrote; ‘If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator, if our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist, If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist, But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Saviour.