THE NAME OF JESUS – A CHRISTMAS SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 20, 2009

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).


Before He was born the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said,

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

That was the first time Joseph heard the message of Christmas. But Christmas means many different things today. Some think it is just a winter holiday – a vacation from school or work. They run to one theater after another to watch morally degrading movies. Some go to Las Vegas to gamble away their money. Others get drunk or take drugs to celebrate the “Holidays.” And there are those who think of it as a time to make more money. They may not even believe in Christ. They may hate Him. But they are ready to “cash in” and make as much money as possible during the last few weeks of December. Still others stay home, sitting in front of a television, lonely and cut off from family and friends.

Materialism, false pleasures, alcohol, drugs and loneliness are all they experience. Many people are so busy with other things that they have no time for church, no time to think about Jesus – even though Christmas is supposed to be the time that we celebrate His birth!

In Taunton, Massachusetts a few days ago, an 8-year-old African American boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo psychological evaluation after he was asked to make a Christmas drawing and drew a picture of Jesus on the Cross, the child’s father, Chester Johnson, said. The boy’s teacher had asked the children in his class to draw something that reminded them of the holiday. The boy had been to church a few days earlier, where he saw a picture of the crucifixion. His father said, “When he saw the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross, that’s what he drew. He liked that.” Little kids learn very quickly. They find out that you might get sent home, and have to undergo “psychological evaluation” if you dare, in a public school, to draw a picture of Jesus at Christmas time! (Source: “2nd-grader told to go home over crucifix drawing,” The Associated Press, December 16, 2009).  Click here to read this news story.

Jesus’ name has been completely removed from what they now call “the Holidays.” We used to send Christmas cards. Now they are “holiday cards.” We used to hear the cheerful sound of “Merry Christmas” from our neighbors, and even on the street from people we didn’t know. Now the cashier rings up our purchases at the store and grunts “happy holidays.” But nobody seems very happy about it anymore.

When I was a child we didn’t have much money. We were even poorer than people are today. But we gave little Christmas presents to our friends and loved ones – very simple gifts. And we sang Christmas carols in the public schools. I was one of the three wise men in a Christmas play at a public school here in Los Angeles. Today, the ACLU and the Supreme Court have made all that against the law. At the same time these people legalized the murder of 51 million children through abortion. One third of your generation of young people have been slaughtered at their hands, while these wicked men made Christmas carols and nativity scenes, and “Merry Christmas” a crime!

When he received the Congressional Gold Medal from President Clinton and the United States Congress, Billy Graham said, "We are a society poised on the brink of self-destruction."  

And it seems that God is now removing His blessings from America, and the nations of Europe. Because of our greed, selfishness and godlessness, we are in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Those in Washington are tinkering with social services, while growing multitudes are out of work. And the politicians don’t know what to do about it! Many of them don’t even seem to care! All they think about is getting re-elected! President Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

Overseas the Taliban is closing in on Pakistan, ready to steal their stockpile of nuclear weapons. Will those terrorists use them on us? North Korea is testing missiles that could reach America and Europe. Iran is working furiously to build nuclear weapons that could destroy Israel, and start a thermonuclear war, like Hell on earth, in the Middle East. We need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety of Israel!  And, if things weren’t bad enough, many scientists and world leaders, like former Vice President Al Gore, are telling us that global warming could destroy our whole way of life in the next few decades. All this reminds me of what the famous French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said – “no exit” – no way out of the fears, and pressures, and problems that face the human race at this hour!

But I have good news for you! The angel of the Lord appeared and said,

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

An old English Christmas carol says it all!

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
   Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour,
   Was born on Christmas day;
To save us all from Satan’s power,
   When we were gone astray.
O, tidings of comfort and joy,
   Comfort and joy,
O, tidings of comfort and joy!
   (“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” author unknown;
     published by William Sandys, 1833).

The name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Yeshua,” which is Anglicized as “Joshua.” It is from a conjunction of two Hebrew words: “Jehovah” and “sets free, delivers, preserves, rescues, saves, gives victory” (Strong #3467). “Jesus” means “Jehovah rescues, saves, and gives victory” to His people!

Christmas should remind us of the hope and salvation that Jesus brings to a world lost in sin. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus when he said,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus was born to die, nailed to a bloody Cross. He said to His Disciples,

“For this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27).

He stood before the Roman governor, beaten and bleeding. The governor asked Him, “Art thou a king then?” (John 18:37). Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37). “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified” (John 19:16).

Jesus dragged His cross to a hill called Calvary. They nailed His hands and His feet to that cross. And Jesus “died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3). They put His dead body in a tomb, sealing it with a huge stone, and leaving Roman guards to keep watch. But the third day Jesus rose physically, flesh and bone, from the dead!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
   The three sad days have quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
   All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!
(“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

That is the Gospel! That is the good news! That is the true meaning of Christmas! The Apostle Paul said it all!

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

During the French Revolution, an atheist said to Talleyrand, “The Christian religion – what is it? It would be easy to start a religion like that.” Talleyrand replied, “Oh, yes, you would only have to get crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day.”

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Jesus’ name means that God has set true Christians free – delivering us and saving us from the penalty of sin by His death on the Cross, and His resurrection from the dead! Jesus can pardon your sin, and cleanse you by His Blood. Jesus can give you eternal life by His resurrection from the grave! Come to Jesus! Trust Him. He will set you free from sin, and save your soul from Hell. That is the message of Christmas!

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” Sing it!

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
   Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour,
   Was born on Christmas day;
To save us all from Satan’s power,
   When we were gone astray.
O, tidings of comfort and joy,
   Comfort and joy,
O, tidings of comfort and joy!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 1:18-25.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” (author unknown;
published by William Sandys, 1833).