“If you declare, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
First of all, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, prosperous and blessed New Year.
May God who has been your rock and refuge in the past year be a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud to watch over us in the coming year.
We begin this year by meditating on the theme, “The name of Jesus”.
Names were important in West Asia and so also in our own country. Names show the hopes and aspirations of the parents and the dreams they have for their children. This morning we will look at the revelation of God’s name in the Old Testament and the revelation of God’s name through Jesus and its implications for us.
In the Old Testament book of Exodus we notice that Moses continues to make excuses about leading the Israelites because they had rejected him earlier. Moses asks God that if he went to the Israelites and said to them, “‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses to declare that, ‘I AM WHO I AM’ or ‘I will be all that I will be’. The name Yahweh comes from the root verb – ‘to be’. The name signifies that God is a living God who is active in history, that he is self-existent and independent of anything else. He is the unchanging and eternal God. The name can also mean, “I can be and can do anything.” He is the God of action, the God of power, the God who releases people from bondage. The Exodus reveals Yahweh in action. When we look at the Exodus and the manner in which he acted in delivering the people of Israel from bondage to freedom we see his power. Through this, Yahweh revealed that he is a God of power, mighty to save his people and deliver them from all bondages.
The God of Israel continues to be the God of today. Yahweh is his name. He is the strong and mighty one and he is able to save us from all our bondages no matter what they are. These could be spiritual bondages, physical bondages, bondages to drugs and alcohol, bondages to bad habits which we are not able to overcome. As we enter this New Year we are encouraged to go with God, knowing that he is sovereign and all powerful and he can deliver us from all our bondages.
In the Gospel reading from St. Luke, Luke records for us that on the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus. Circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and every male was to be circumcised on the eighth day reminding them that they completely belong to Yahweh.
What does the name Jesus mean? Jesus is actually the Greek form of the Hebrew name ‘Yeshua’ or ‘Joshua’ which means – ‘Yahweh is salvation’. This was the name that Joseph was directed to keep by the angel of the Lord who reassured him that the baby that Mary had conceived was from the Holy Spirit and that Mary would give birth to a son, and they were to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Luke in his Gospel wants his readers to see the meaning of ‘Saviour’ in terms of rescue and delivery from peril in both physical and spiritual senses. He is God’s deliverer for God’s people. Saviour which was a title usually used for God is now used for Jesus who functions as the deliverer. So, we see that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and he makes this offer of salvation to all who believe in his name.
Paul writes to the Romans saying, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul is stating that we are called to believe in our hearts that Jesus has indeed come to save us from our sins and that he will restore this broken relationship with God.
When we go into the New Year, we can go with your assurance that Jesus saves us from all the bondages of sin, sickness, and death. He has defeated all the powers of darkness that kept us shackled down because of his birth, life, death and resurrection. Satan is a defeated foe and trembles at the name of Jesus.
As we move into this New Year, may we go out with assurance of the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Emmanuel who is with us. May God bless each one of you. Wishing you all a very happy New Year 2019.