When most people hear the name “Jesus,” they assign it a connotation substantially different from its actual meaning. The mantra, “Gentle Jesus meek and mild” probably embodies the response of most people.
However, “Jesus” is the New Testament form of “Joshua.” Almost every time we find Joshua mentioned in Scripture he is fighting or in some military context.
Though “fighter” is not the image we have of Jesus, as we reflect on His ministry we find that He was frequently in conflict. He did battle with the Pharisees and Sadducees. He engaged in combat with demons. At times He was in conflict with the people He was seeking to teach. Ultimately, he fought the greatest battle ever waged, fighting the Jewish leaders, the Roman Empire, and all the hosts of hell with His hands and feet nailed to a cross. In the future He will lead the greatest military campaign of all history at the battle of Armageddon.
This description might seem to portray Jesus as a combative character. That is not the case. Ultimately He is the Prince of Peace. However, we see throughout history that often the only path to peace is through war. The Christmas story records, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 ESV) The name Joshua means the Lord is Salvation (Deliverance). Joshua delivered the people of Israel from their enemies. Likewise, the ultimate purpose of all the fighting in which Jesus engaged was to deliver us from sin, our greatest enemy.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can rejoice that the baby born in Bethlehem ultimately grew up to be a warrior who fought for our salvation.