What if an angel came to you like he did Joseph? You’ve gotten the news about your fiance’ being pregnant with a child that’ not yours. In your tossing and turning for most of the night, but in that sleep a dream, and in that dream, an angel. The angel tell Joseph exactly what to do, even the name of the child. For this would be a sign to the rest of the world to just how special this child would be, Joseph, whose carpentry was average at best, did not get a great deal of respect in the village, but now he would. The name from the angel would have to be majestic. One of the older ones, Lion of Judah, The Light of the World,
The Resurrection and the Life, The Bright and Morning Star, Alpha and Omega.
Joseph waited for the angel to speak, to give him the name. “And you will name him….” Wait for it. “Bob.”
Not the way you remember it? The angel say, “Jesus” and not “Bob”?
In the days of Jesus, Jesus was a common name.
There were at least five high priests known as Jesus.
The writings of the historian Josephus refer to about twenty people called Jesus.
The New Testament speaks of Jesus Justus, the friend of Paul,1 and the sorcerer of Paphos is called Bar-Jesus2. Some manuscripts give Jesus as the first name of Barabbas. “Which would you like me to release to you—Jesus Barabbas or Jesus called the Messiah?”3
In Jesus’ day, Jesus is as common as John, Bob, or Tom is today.
Imagine the angel, “She will give birth to your first born son, and you are to name him…”
Matthew is quiet, the angel is about to tell you the name of your child, he takes a deep breath, God has picked a name…
And you will name him, “Bob.”
Behold, “Bob, the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”
Really? You’d ask. “Bob?”
That’s why the very idea of JESUS being born of a virgin was the hard part to swallow, the, what Paul called, foolishness of the gospel. But that’s how he works.
Consider the Magi, they see a star, they know a king has been born, they go to the palace in Jerusalem.
Now we are getting somewhere, now we are getting a glimpse into how God works in the world.
“Really?” Everybody asks. “Bethlehem?”
The beginning of the gospel of John is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. …”
Very high language, but John goes on, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us,” dwelt among us…
It must have been tough, the shepherds gathering around the manger, talking about the angles, ‘This is great they shehperds say, talking on top of one antoehr. Say, “What did you name him?”
Quietly, Joe responds, “Bob.”
“Bob?” the shepherds snicker. “You sure we got the right place?”
Then the magi come with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. “Gifts for a king,” they say bowing before the baby. “And what name did you give his royal highness?
Joseph chokes for a moment, unable to speak. “Uhmmmm, Bob.”
It had to be tough on ol Joe. Yet, there is the good news of the gospel in the name Jesus and just how common it was.
But the good news is that he shows up in the very lives of Marys, of Beths, of Joes, Johns, Peters, of us. He’s not in the palatial palaces, with the Caesars, any more than he’s in the low places, the flood planes. Your life and mine.
This points us to the heart of God, how God works in the world.
The angel says, “Name him Jesus.” Bob,” for our day. The angel goes on to say, “And you can call him Emmanuel. God with us. All of us.”
The Marys, Tammys, Sues, the David, Johns, and, oy, yes, The Bobs.
He’ll let his light shine before so that others will see his good works and know what he was talking about.
If he would have adorned one of those other names, it would be hard to believe him.
When a guy named Bob from Bethlehem tells you God loves for you and wants to to amazing things with your life, you tend to believe him. Even if you’re a Chuckie.
When the angel had appeared to the sheopherds, they were told “good newss that will be for all people for unto us is born, this day, in the city of David, a s savior who is Christ the Lord. Bob of Bethlehem. Blessed be the name of the Bob, and the rest of us, thanks be to God.