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The Old Testament name Joshua is equivalent to the name Jesus in the New Testament.


It was a common name. When Jesus played stickball outside Nazareth’s synagogue, there was probably a boy on the other team who shared the name. Scouring the Old Testament, one can find several fellas named Joshua, starting with the most famous, the leader during the conquest of Canaan. His name had been Hoshea, but “Moses renamed Hoshea son of Nun, Joshua”(Numbers 13:16). A priest serving during David’s reign was named “Jeshua” (1 Chronicles 24:11). Another “Jeshua” served in the Temple during Hezekiah’s reign (2 Chronicles 31:15). Still another “Jeshua” returned from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2) and was instrumental in the rebuilding of the temple.


The name was ordinary, yet God sent an angel to both Mary and Joseph with an extraordinary request.


To Mary, Gabriel, God’s messenger said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:28–33). Though it was physiological impossible, God told Mary that she would give birth, and she was commanded to name the miracle-baby “Jesus.”


To Joseph, Gabriel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20–21). Though at first heartbroken to hear that Mary was pregnant, obviously by another man, Joseph was perfectly obedient to God’s command. “When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus” (Matthew 1:24–25).


Why Jesus?


Translated, Jesus means “Jehovah saves” or “salvation is from Jehovah.” God commanded, “name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:25). The name expresses Jesus’ mission on earth. He came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).


Seven hundred years before His miraculous birth, Isaiah, knowing man’s sinfulness, foresaw God’s great grace and His substitutionary sacrifice. “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).


As Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist recognized “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John might have thought, “there’s my cousin, Jesus. Like the Passover Lamb, He will die so that we can live!”


Jesus saves!


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