Can My Dementia Keep Me from Christ?
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Can My Dementia Keep Me from Christ?

Call His Name Jesus

Posted December 18, 2023
Jesus Christ

Joseph’s head is spinning. He is trying to piece together what in the world has happened to his fiancee, and his future. It all seems to be crumbling apart. She is pregnant. They are not yet married and so, because he’s a godly man, there’s no way the child is his. On the other hand, there’s no way that the child could be what Mary claims it be: conceived by God’s own Spirit. Just as he is planning his escape from this bizarre situation, things get even more strange: an angel shows up. Though Joseph has a million questions, none are answered. The angel doesn’t explain how a virgin conception works, nor does he tell Joseph why, out of all the God-fearing Jews of the day, he and his betrothed were chosen by God for this plan. He essentially says two things: trust Mary, and name the child “Jesus.”

Why He Was Given This Name

Why Jesus? The angel explains: “For he will save his people from their sin” (Matt. 1:21). Names used to tell us a lot more about a person than they do today. We used to call families the Taylors because they made clothes, or Cobbler because they worked on shoes. But notice that Matthew records this without further comment, as though it is just entirely evident why the name “Jesus” would make sense for somebody who comes to save. And it is, if you were a first-century Jew! Jesus is the Greek version of the name Joshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” The name is all about his mission!

This new Joshua doesn’t seem very impressive, not like the Joshua of old who could lead armies into battle after victorious battle. But that difference is on purpose since he comes for a different reason. The angel doesn’t say, “Call him Jesus, because he will save his people.” No, he says, “For he will save his people from their sins.” He comes not to conquer land, but to conquer sin. Jesus comes to do battle against that great enemy the flesh, which even still now wages a worthless war against our spirits. He takes on that flesh that he’s going to fight, and he lives in it. Perfectly. More than that: he dies in it, rises again it, and even now he intercedes for us in it. There could be no name more fitting for the “savior of the world” (1 John 4:14) than “Jesus.”

Why You Should Give Him This Name, Too

Joseph isn’t the only one commanded to call him Jesus. You and I are as well. Consider that the angel’s charge to Joseph is really a charge to all people, since acknowledging the baby born in Bethlehem as the Savior is the foundational act of faith. To be honest, it would have been a lot harder for Joseph or Mary to do this than it is for you or me. They looked at a crying baby and called him Savior. You and I have the testimony of his whole life, death, resurrection, and now even the witness of his powerful Spirit to tell us that to call him Savior is most fitting. To call him Jesus is to say you believe that he did what he came to do: to save. Call him Jesus today as an act and a declaration of faith that you believe he is exactly who he says he is, and that he will do exactly what he promised he will do.

There should be an immense comfort for the Christian that we can call our Savior and Lord by this name. Think of how the Bible is full of impressive titles for Christ. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the Ancient of Days. The Son of Man, the Son of God. He is the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is our Prophet, Priest, and King. He is our Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the Lord, the Almighty. He is the Lord our Righteousness. He is the Door of the sheep, the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd and overseer of our souls. He is the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world. He is the eternal Word, the Light, the Light of the World, the Light of Life, the true Vine, the Water of Life, the Bread that came down from heaven. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the head over all things. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

But this high and exalted one, this Lord of glory, the ruler of the universe, simply says to you today, “You can call me Jesus.” That’s remarkable. There’s a humility here, an approachability. There is no reason to shrink back from one who’s inviting you into such a deep and personal relationship. You are on a first-name basis with the creator and redeemer of the world. But, more than that, he wants you to call him Jesus because he wants you to know that what he is all about is saving you. J.C. Ryle, the great British minister and Bible commentator, made this observation:

‘Jesus’ is a very encouraging name to heavy-laden sinners. He who is King of kings and Lords of lords might lawfully have taken some more high-sounding title. But he did not do so. The Son of God was content to call himself ‘Savior.’ [And this name gives believers] what money cannot buy. Happy is that person who trusts not merely in vague notions of God’s mercy and goodness, but in ‘Jesus.’

Jesus is the one who saves it and no one else. This Christmas, for the first time if not for the one thousandth time, follow in the footsteps of Joseph and call his name Jesus—for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

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Jonathan Landry Cruse

Jonathan Landry Cruse pastors Community Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Kalamazoo, MI, where he lives with his wife and children. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Glorifying and Enjoying God and The Character of Christ.