The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. So Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel , which is translated "God is with us." When Joseph woke up from his sleep, he did as the Lord's angel had commanded him. He took his wife home, but he did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25 HCSB)
During the Christmas season, as we see the name of "Christ" everywhere- at least as it is attached to the word "Christmas"- and as we even hear the Bible story of Christ's birth recited on network television in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," it is good for us to take some time to seriously reflect on what God's Word has to say about the birth of Jesus Christ. By meditating on the names for Jesus given in Matthew 1:18-25, we see how these names reveal some crucial aspects about who God is. By meditating on the nature of Jesus' work as declared in Matthew 1:18-25, we see how the declarations made about Jesus reveal some crucial aspects about what God has done on behalf of sinners.
The first name in Matthew 1:18-25 to which I would like to draw readers' attention is the name "Christ." In Matthew 1:18 we read:
The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (HCSB)
"Christ" here is actually a title given to Jesus meaning "Messiah" or "anointed one". The term "anointed one" refers to a king who is promised by God to deliver His people from their enemies. This term comes from the way that the first kings in ancient Israel were appointed by God. God had His prophet Samuel use oil to anoint Saul and later David as He chose them to be kings. As Samuel poured oil on the heads of these men, this action symbolized God pouring out His Spirit on them so that they would be empowered to rule over His people, as we read in First Samuel chapter 10. In the Old Testament Scripture, God promised an ultimate "anointed one"- that is, the Messiah, or Christ- to rule over His people and deliver them from their enemies for all time. Through Jesus, who is named as Christ, God fulfills these Old Testament promises. By the name "Christ" in this passage, we see that God is revealed as one who is faithful to keep His promises, for He has provided a ruler and deliverer for His people.
Jesus is Christ. He is the ruler and deliverer for His people. The question to you today is whether you have submitted to Jesus as your ruler and have called out to Him as your deliverer from sin.
God is faithful to fulfill His promises, by trusting in Him through Christ you can be delivered from your sin and brought into the kingdom of God.
God's faithfulness to His promises is brought into even greater focus as Matthew 1:22-23 gives an example of a specific prophecy that is fulfilled through the birth of Jesus:
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
See, the virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel , which is translated "God is with us." (HCSB)
In addition to the faithfulness of God, these verses tell us that God is actually "with us." God is revealed throughout the Bible as the great king of the universe who is holy and just in all respects. By being born in an impoverished condition through the baby Jesus- who, as the Gospel account of Luke tells us, was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn- God reveals that He also sympathizes with us in our weaknesses. Jesus was with His people in His earthly ministry- His perfect life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection- and He remains with His people through the Holy Spirit, who is given to everyone who trusts in Christ. So that whatever heartaches that we have, whatever hard times that we face, by faith we must must cling to the promise that, in Jesus, "God is with us."
"Jesus" means, simply put, "God saves." Matthew 1:21 informs us that the son of Mary would be given this name because "He will save His people from their sins." I would like to briefly call your attention to three points concerning the work of God that are revealed by the statement, "He will save His people from their sins." The points from this verse to which I would like to draw your attention are: 1. The specific work of God; 2. The specific people impacted by the work of God; 3. The nature of the work of God.
The Specific Work of God Declared in Matthew 1:21
First of all, Matthew 1:21 informs us of an action that will certainly be accomplished by God through Jesus. "He will save His people from their sins." This is important for us to understand because there are many forms of religion that claim an allegiance to Jesus, but they disregard the very meaning of His name as revealed to us in this verse. This fact is demonstrated in that salvation from sin is declared in Matthew 1:21 to be a work that God Himself will accomplish. False systems try to subtly add human works to this statement, giving the impression that God has made us savable, and that there is some action that individuals must perform to 'seal the deal,' so that they will be saved by cooperating with God. These false systems have the effect of belittling the glory of God and exalting sinful people.
The Specific People Impacted by the Work of God in Matthew 1:21
So, the name "Jesus" tells us of a particular action- our salvation- that is actually accomplished by God. Next, Matthew 1:21 informs us of a particular people who benefit from God's work of salvation. For this verse declares that God will save His people from their sins. And it is clear from the teaching of Jesus later in Matthew- and the other Gospel accounts- that there are some people who will not be saved from their sins. Some people will die having never turned away from their sinful lifestyle and having never trusted in Jesus as their Savior. These people will die in their unbelief and they will be judged by God according to their sins- they will suffer His just wrath against sin for all eternity in Hell.
But God has chosen for Himself a people- His people- whom He will save from their sins. And His people are revealed by their faith in Jesus.
The Nature of the Work of God Declared in Matthew 1:21
Finally, Matthew 1:21- this verse that gives an explanation of the name "Jesus"- reveals to us what God will save His people from. God will save His people from their sins. For the people of Israel at the time of Jesus looked for the Messiah- the Christ- who was a king that God had promised to send to deliver His people from their enemies. But the people of Israel expected this king to be a political leader who would set them free from the Romans who held control over the nation of Israel. What the Israelites did not understand- what no one understood- is that their true enemies were not the Romans but their own sinful desires that battled against God, making them His enemies. Jesus came to set His people- people from within national Israel as well as people from all over the world who would believe in Him- free from their sins. This is the nature of the work that God promised He would accomplish through Jesus. And due to the nature of the salvation that God accomplished through Jesus, His people are, in fact, saved from their sins. In the lives of God's people, there will be a change. Our salvation from sin will be manifest in a growing hatred for sin and a growing love for God.
The question, then, is, are you a member of the particular group mentioned in this verse: are you one of God's people? Has God saved you from your sin? Is God's salvation from sin demonstrated in your life by a growing hatred for sin and a growing love for God? If you can not answer "yes" to these questions, then I beg you to cry out to Jesus to save you. Jesus alone can save you from your sin. It is for this reason that He came into the world:
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)
Labels: Bible study, evangelism, Reformation Theology