Jesus, For He Will Save His People From Their Sins (Matthew 1:18-25)

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

One of the most interesting things about having a baby is the intricate process that a family goes through in picking out a child’s name. This indeed has become important event for families.  There are websites and books numbering in the thousands that help families understand the origin of a name, the meaning of the name, and its popularity.

The reason why we spend so much time with picking a name is that we want a good solid name that will represent a family’s values and expectations.  We want to have a name that will communicate to the child who they are.  We pick names for the sake of the child. 

Two thousand years ago, an angel of the Lord visited Joseph, Mary’s husband.  The angel visited Joseph before he was married to Mary and before she had given birth to the Christ-child.  The angel of the Lord said to Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holly Spirit.  The angel of the Lord said to Joseph that he should remain with Mary and name the child “Jesus,” for Jesus would save his people from their sins. 

Did you get that?  The angel gave Joseph the name to place upon the child.  No name books, no internet name websites, and no family feedback.  This is the name that the child in Mary’s womb shall bear; the name ‘Jesus.’

The name Jesus is an extremely profound name. It means God saves or the Lord is Salvation.  The name Jesus is actually the Hebrew name Joshua.  If you think back to the Old Testament, Joshua was the one who led the wandering nation of Israel into the Promised Land.  Keep in mind that Moses led the people out of Egypt into the wilderness, but it was Joshua who led the army of Israel into the Promised Land.  He led them into the Promised Land as they overthrew city after city in great battles.  Therefore, there is no doubt in our mind that the name Jesus invokes the idea of being rescued, being saved, being delivered.  The name captures a person who conquers and leads.  The name Jesus most definitely brings to our mind the great victories of Joshua, as city after city fell in Israel’s journey into the Promised Land. 

Tonight, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we remember the name given to the babe born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, God saves.  But like the people of the first-century we must ask the question, “Jesus saves us from what?”

It seems to me that most people are very open to having a personalized Jesus, one who saves them.  Who would not want to have a personalized savior, one who delivers, conquers, and leads?  But the question arises, what does Jesus save us from?  Is He a Savior that saves us from bad finances and then gives us prosperity?  Is He a Savior that saves us from our failed hopes and dreams and then makes our wildest dreams come true? 

There is no doubt about it that the people of Israel in the first century had high expectations of a Messiah, a Savior to save them from the oppression of the Roman Empire.  They were in bondage to a foreign government.  Therefore, they most definitely had hope for and political aspirations of a Messiah who was to come, a Savior who would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. They most definitely wanted a Savior who would establish them as a great nation, a free and autonomous nation.  Would this Jesus born in the manger be the one to accomplish this for them, for His name does mean, “God saves.” 

My friends, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph that Jesus shall save His people ‘from their sins.’  With this phrase all ideas of a political savior are swept away.  In other words, Jesus is not a means to our earthly agendas.  Jesus does indeed save, but we need to hear clearly what He saves us from.  You see, Jesus was born and given the name ‘Jesus’ because His whole mission and purpose was to pay the price needed for God to forgive our sins,  that is, Jesus saves us from God’s wrath and God’s condemnation.  Because of Jesus’s work on the cross we can say that there is no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus!  That is a present reality.  But get this, it gets even better: He also saves us from our sins.  In other words, Jesus not only makes it possible for God the Father to forgive you and me by taking upon Himself the wrath of God, but He also rescues you and me from sin itself. 

My friends, while we hope to be rescued from: bad finances, low social standings, bad GPAs, bad credit ratings, low stock portfolios, and so forth, these things are not the great threats in our lives. Rather, the great threat to us is our sins.  The reason being, sin is like glue. It clings to us, damns us unto death, and puts us in the grave.  Ah, but take comfort you baptized children of God.  Jesus saves you from your sin. Yes, the Gospel puts you not in your own grave, but in Jesus’ grave where you are promised a future resurrection at His second coming, a resurrection of the body; full salvation free from sin, free from the fear of death, and free from the pathetic lies and deceit of the evil one. 

Yes, the name Jesus embraces and describes the entire saving work of the Son of God, work that is accomplished in His nativity, life, death, and resurrection; work that He accomplished and will accomplish for you and for me. 

This Christmas Eve we remember the name Jesus; the name that means, “God Saves.”  Yes, in Jesus you are saved from the wrath of God and saved from your sins unto everlasting life. 

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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