Is Yeshua a better name for Jesus

Sermon on the name of Jesus

At this time when some people are cautious about not attending church, reading sermons can be a viable alternative. Here is the sermon from January 3rd - also with a pdf document for download.
Sermon text
Matthew 1:21 [The angel spoke to Joseph in a dream] She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
22 All this was done so that what the Lord said through the prophet might come true:
23 Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and he will be named Immanuel. That means: 'God with us'.
24 When Joseph woke up from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife to live with him.
25 But he did not recognize her until she had given birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.


1. "I called you by your name, you are mine." God calls you by name. Why don't you close your eyes for a moment. Do you hear your own name spoken by God in your heart? And if so, how are you doing? I feel respected, valuable, understood, happy. This name is also borne by other people, but when I hear it like that, there is no doubt in my mind: I am meant.

2. A child is given his name. It was the same with Jesus. With him the name comes directly from God - with the prediction of his birth, the name expresses the essence of a person: the essence of Jesus is known to God - he also knows my essence. The name alone cannot exhaust this.

3. In Jesus the meaning is "God saves". And this meaning is very much linked to the essence of his person and his mission. The name was chosen by God himself according to both Matthew and Luke, which an angel announces. But there are also differences. With Luke the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary. In Matthew an angel speaks to Joseph in a dream. "He named him Jesus."

Joseph takes on his father's role here and gives the child that name. With Matthew, the man remains in the lead role. It is interesting in this Gospel that two names are associated with the birth of the Messiah: Jesus and Immanuel. The fulfillment of prophecy would actually require the newborn to be named Immanuel. I preached about this on Christmas Day. But God's will is recorded as follows: "You, Joseph, should give him the name Jesus." And so did Joseph.

With Luke the moment of naming is clearly defined - namely at the circumcision on the eighth day - which corresponds to the Jewish custom to this day. But Luke leaves it open who will give the name. "Then the name Jesus was given to him, which was called by the angel". It cannot have been Mary, because mother is not present at the circumcision. Luke is careful not to bring Joseph into play here. Perhaps this "The name was given" should emphasize again that this name was not given by humans?

But like every human child, Jesus also receives his name. And over time he becomes aware that he is meant by the name: of people around him and of God. As it is with the prophet: "I have called you by your name, you belong to me."

When the angel says that the child should be called Jesus, then salvation is promised to the world at that moment.

"You should give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." writes Matthew expressly. He is the savior. But it does not primarily save us from external threats. He does not save us from other people or from natural disasters, perhaps not from viruses and bacteria, but from our sins, that is to say in plain language: He saves us from ourselves, from what we do to this world, to each other and to ourselves. From what keeps us trapped inside: from egoism, from indifference and ruthlessness.

4. But the meaning of the name does not lie in the translation from Hebrew alone. When assigning a name, the history of a previous name-bearer is linked to. This is very clear in the case of Jesus. Before him, some well-known personalities, and probably innumerable normal boys, were given this name. The most important predecessor: Yehoshua, in the Greek translation JESOUS. Unfortunately, the Latin translation has given this name as Josue and in German Josua. Our ears cannot tell that this corresponds to the name of Jesus. The story of Joshua echoes symbolically in the name of Jesus. The most important thing about this person is his role as successor to Moses. Moses is the one who leads out of slavery in Egypt. He leads the people into a covenant with God and gives them the laws as guard rails and orientation. And he comes with this people to the edge of the promised land, but dies without ever having set foot in the land. It is his successor, Joshua, who leads the people over the last obstacle, the Jordan River, into the Promised Land and, when they arrive there, celebrates the Passover meal. And with Jesus, we have to do with a messenger from God who not only speaks about God's kingdom, but also with someone who leads us into it and has a meal with us. All we need to do is follow him - like the people in the wilderness, all that was needed was to follow Joshua, the first man with the same name as Jesus, to get to the promised land.

5. Whoever pronounces the name Jeschua, the name Jesus, who says: God saves and makes something like an ultra short creed: God saves.

And there are people who really understand the uttering of this name as a confession and a prayer and not just as an expression of wonder (Jesus God!)

In the Eastern Church in particular, the Jesus prayer has been prayed for centuries. And connected with this is the story of the Russian pilgrim who, in the middle of the 19th century, was looking for someone who could teach him incessant prayer in the sense of the Bible. This writing has also found distribution in the West, including us.

The Russian pilgrim explains in it:
"The incessant inner prayer of Jesus is the incessant invocation of the divine name of Jesus, imagining his constant presence and asking him for his mercy in every action, everywhere, at all times, even during sleep."

The Starez, an old experienced monk, explained to me that learning this prayer was mostly a matter of getting used to it, and once you got used to it, it would give you extraordinary joy. One would then have the desire to do it all the time, and that would happen by itself. He read me specific instructions from a book with the strange title: Philokalia, or the Love of Spiritual Beauty of Those Who Exercise the Alertness of the Spirit. There it said:

"Sit down in silence and solitude, close your eyes and let your breath flow very easily. Then bring your attention from your head into your heart, so that your imagination, thinking and feeling emanate from your heart. In the rhythm of your breath, speak in your thoughts - or also gently moving your lips - the following: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." Drive away all strange thoughts, just be quiet and be patient and practice this prayer very often. "

So there is a mystical tradition that is derived from the name Jesus, this name that contains a history of salvation and a confession in two to three syllables.

The writings of the New Testament show us that this does not only happen on Mount Athos or in the Siberian landscapes, from which I would like to quote two passages at the end of this sermon:

Apostles 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for we humans have not been given any other name under heaven by which we are to be saved.

Phil 2,9 Therefore God exalted him above all and gave him the name that is above all names,
Phil 2:10 so that in the name of Jesus every knee bow down, of all those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Phil 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God the Father. Amen.