She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
On a recent flight Diane was having a conversation with a her seatmate. As the conversation deepened, Diane had an opportunity to share the importance of Jesus in her life. When she mentioned Jesus’ name, her seatmate became animated, and shared a story of how Jesus had helped many years ago literally save a person’s life. It was a wonderful story about calling on Jesus’ name for physical strength, and how God had answered that prayer in a dramatically-powerful way. Jesus has a way of doing that. His name calls him into the conversation, and opens doors to spiritual truths and soul-touching realities.
A recent trend among sincere and prayerful Christians is to pray, ending with the words, “in your name. Amen.” While that isn’t a major offence, I’m not certain I really even understand how I might pray to God in God’s name. I believe it is important to pray explicitly and specifically in Jesus’ name. It is a witness to Jesus’ true identity as the Son of God, to our identity as God’s sons and daughters through faith in Jesus, and to Jesus’ specific promise that the Father will answer prayers in Jesus’ name.
Matthew tells us that this child’s name is to be named Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.” That forgiveness is reflected in God’s invitation to pray. God’s salvation is hinted at when we experience answered prayers. Those who take Jesus’ name onto their lips honor God, and embrace the rich blessings Jesus has come to bring.