"On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived" (Luke 2:21).
He was the most enthusiastic little boy in my group of pre-K kids at our soccer Bible camp. Always one of the first to arrive, he ran onto the field with a soccer ball in one hand, a water bottle in the other, and a bunch of questions in his head. “What are we doing today? What is the treat? When are we getting started?”
By the end of the camp’s second day he had another question: “Who is this ‘God’ everyone keeps talking about?”
Imagine what it would be like for you to enter this new year not knowing the answer to that question.
God’s Name Means “Savior”
January 1 on the church year calendar means a lot more than the start of a new year. It marks the circumcision and naming of our Lord eight days after his birth. And it reminds us that we don’t go through this year clueless about God. God has a name. His name is Jesus, a name that means “Savior.”
Luke is careful to remind us that this name came from God through the angel that announced his miraculous birth to Mary. It was a name, then, that God himself had chosen to communicate what he most wanted mankind to know about him. What he wants us to know is that he came to save us from that punishment. He is Jesus—Savior.
But it’s not just his name that tells us that. His entire life makes that statement. Look! Here is your God—at eight days old—a small human child, obeying his Father’s command by becoming circumcised according to the law, becoming one with God’s people to live under the covenant in perfect obedience to his Father his entire life. In that life he will love and help and serve and heal sinners wherever he goes. He will suffer and shed his blood on a cross for all of our failure to live as God’s holy people. He will die for us but rise again—the conqueror of death and source of eternal life. He lived the name he was given: “Savior.”
God’s Name Means “My Savior”
Feel free to put a “my” in front of your God’s name because he is your Jesus, your Savior. And he is not done living out his name “Savior” for you. You know what he has promised to do for you this entire year.
Though you will not always be faithful to him, he will remain faithful to you. Though you will sin, he will forgive that sin in the gospel proclaimed to you over and over in his Word and in his Supper. Though you will face hardships that will make you afraid, he will be with you to comfort you with his presence. Though you will bear a cross for him, he will give you strength and courage to know that nothing you suffer for him will be greater than what he suffered for you. He will assure you that his love is unfailing and that your future is bright with eternal glory.
In this new year, live in the comfort and strength of your God’s name. Live to glorify his name by a life of thankful obedience. Live to share what his name means to those who don’t yet know.
By Norman F. Burger