I collected baseball cards as a boy. Actually, I still do. When I was a boy, though, there was a wonderful man named Mr. Pape who went to our church. Mr. Pape was a baseball card dealer. On weekends he would sell cards at baseball card shows. Sometimes he’d even let me tag along.
I remember one evening I was at Mr. Pape’s house. We were looking at cards and watching a baseball game on TV. The Chicago Cubs were playing. Suddenly a batter came up. His name flashed on the screen: Ivan de Jesús.
“Look, Mr. Pape,” I said in surprise. “His name is Jesus.” Mr. Pape smiled and patiently explained to me that in Spanish speaking countries, boys are often named Jesus.
To our American ears that sounds strange. Few American mothers would ever think of naming their child Jesus. Jesus is God’s name. Jesus is our Savior. Besides, he would probably get made fun of at school.
That’s why it may come as a shock to many American moms that they have named their boys after Jesus without even knowing it. In fact, his is one of the 50 most popular boy names given today.
Confused? You see, Jesus’ name wasn’t really Jesus. I mean it was, but nobody ever called him that. The name Jesus is the Greek version of his name. In the Aramaic language, the language of Israel at time, his name was Yeshua. That’s what his family and friends would have called him.
In English, Yeshua is the name Joshua. Jesus and Joshua are the same name. They both mean, “The Lord saves.”
Jesus, Yeshua, Joshua – is our Savior.
We call Jesus our Savior so often, though, that the significance of the name can easily be lost. Jesus saved us. He rescued us. He rescued us from the fires and horrors of hell. He rescued us from an eternity of pain we deserve for all our stupid and hurtful and thoughtless deeds.
He rescued us like firefighter who sweeps into our house and carries us out of the flames. We call such firemen “heroes” and that is what they are. Jesus heroically rescued us. In fact, he gave his life to save us. We would feel forever indebted to a firefighter who died saving us.
How much more Jesus? He didn’t just die for us. He suffered our hell. He suffered our punishment in our place. That is how he saved us. God is never going to punish us because he punished Yeshua in our place.
In the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, the heroine of the movie, Rose, recounted how her one true love, Jack, gave his life to save her. “He saved me in every way a person can be saved,” she said with grateful tears in her eyes.
That’s actually not true. Jesus is the one who saved us in every way a person can be saved. He saved us from sin. He saved us from death. He saved us from the devil. He saved us from hell.
His name says it all. Jesus, Yeshua, Joshua – the Lord saves. That name is our hope, our pride, our joy. Whether you feel comfortable giving your child that name or not, cling to it. Speak it with grateful tears in your eyes.
It is truly the name above all names.