Where did the name “Jesus” come from?

Pastor Jeff Struecker

We started studying what theologians call Christology, the study of Christ, and what we’re gonna talk about today is the first name of Jesus. He has many titles and references, but we’re going to talk about Jesus’s proper name today on this episode of mid-week worship. 

Let’s talk about the name Jesus for just a second. Do you know where this name came from? If you’re thinking to yourself, it came from his mama and daddy. Well, that’s not actually true because if you were to go back to the original birth story of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke in the Bible, you’ll see that Mary and Joseph were told what to name this baby. In fact, I’ve got a verse of scripture that I want you to memorize today. This scripture verse reminds us that the angel told Mary and Joseph what to name him. Here it is:

Memory Verse

Brandon, spelled with an A with a U, is the most popular baby name of 1986. Well, the most popular baby name of zero or one A. D. in Jerusalem. We don’t have a record of that. But many parents were naming their child Joshua, Jesus, Yeshua. And in fact, I’m going to put on the screens for you the way that this name would have been pronounced back in Jesus’s day, and I’m doing this for a reason because you need to understand the significance of Jesus’s first name.

Why did God choose the name Jesus for him? Because He could have chose Peter or Andrew or Mark or somebody else like that. He could have chose Levi or Judah or somebody else. Why the name Jesus?

  • Yeshua

  • Yehoshua

  • Iesous

  • Ja/Ya… Yasha

Well, in Hebrew, that first bullet point is what the name Jesus looks like when it’s transliterated. When you take the Hebrew letters and turn them into English letters, that name would have been pronounced Yeshua, (sounds a lot like Joshua). In fact, the name Joshua is the Hebrew version of the name Jesus. Jesus’s family probably didn’t speak Hebrew. They speak a different dialect of the Hebrew language, which is called Aramaic

The second bullet shows you what that name would have looked like in Aramaic. It’s the name Yehoshua, and Yehoshua sounds and looks a lot like the Hebrew word Joshua. When that name is translated into the new testament books, the new testament is written entirely in greek, and when the Hebrew Aramaic name is translated into greek, it looks a little bit different. 

So the third bullet is what Jesus’s name would have looked like when the greek people of the first century were speaking; it’s the name Iesous. But I want you to notice in the last bullet that the name Jesus is actually two words smashed together to become one phrase. And the name Jesus describes why he came to earth. The Jaya is a slang version of the name Jehovah or Yahweh. The first two letters of Jehovah, the two first letters of Yahweh, Jah or yah, is a reference to God. The second half of that name is the Yasha. The Yasha word means saves or rescues. Smash those two together, and you have Jesus’s name.

So when that angel goes to Mary and says Mary, God just did a miracle. You’re pregnant even though you’re still a virgin, and you’re going to have a baby, and this is the baby’s name. The name of the baby literally is God saves you. See, in Jesus’s day, parents didn’t choose a name because it was unique or cool. They picked a name because that’s the character they wanted the boy or that girl to become when they turned into a man or a woman. Well, God chose a name for His son, and God’s name for His son is  I will save through this boy

A Challenge

So now I want to leave you with a little exercise to do as a family. Think about this for just a second. One of these days after you pass away, they’re going to put your name in stone on a headstone, in a graveyard somewhere, or a mausoleum, and your name is going to be left in stone long after you’re gone. What do you want your name to stand for after you’re gone? Think about all the things that you’ve accomplished in your life. When people read your name on a stone in a cemetery one day, what do you want them to remember about that name?