“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
With this sentence, God gives Joseph (and you and me) much to consider. The preceding verses reveal that Joseph is a descendant of King David and that he was pledged to be married to Mary, with whom he had not had intimate relations. Even so, the scripture tells us, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Gospel-writer Luke explains this from her perspective, but Matthew tells the events from Joseph’s point of view. Evidently, Mary had broken the unusual and unbelievable news of her pregnancy to Joseph, and he had assumed the worst. Can you blame him? The Holy Spirit fathering a baby seems pretty far-fetched. Though likely devastated, confused, and angry, Joseph loved Mary enough to want to protect her from public disgrace and had in mind to divorce her quietly.
With his mind settled, Joseph sleeps, and into his sleep, God sends his messenger. If you look at verse 20, the angel meets Joseph at his deepest pain point, fear. He says “don’t be afraid.” An omniscient God at work, revealing exactly where to address and correct the root of what is causing Joseph to miss the truth about this baby’s origin. Uncovering his fear, the angel calls Joseph to faith and gives him instructions – take her home as your wife. Then, he verifies the facts Mary had likely given him: the baby was indeed conceived from the Holy Spirit. Finally, the angel cast vision for Joseph about what this all means – a son is coming, but not just any son, a Son who will save his people from their sins.
This is a lot to take in for dear Joseph. But it is a lot to take in for us as well! At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, fully man and fully God. We call this miracle growing inside Mary, the incarnation, meaning the eternal God took on flesh. Paul puts it this way when writing about Christ Jesus: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8
The angel makes it clear to Joseph and to us that He came for one reason, to save His people from their sin. Born as the one unique sufficient and willing sacrifice to die for the sins of all who will trust Him for salvation, Jesus alone bears the title Savior. What are the implications of this declaration?
People need saving! The implication is that sin, or missing the mark of God’s perfection, is a real and present danger to the human race, even for the “good people.” The wages of sin is truly death and Jesus has come to be our atoning substitute, paying the debt we owed and offering us His righteousness in exchange for our sin. This is hard news to swallow. Do you know it to be true? Romans is a great place for further study on this!
Jesus accomplished salvation! Also, there is the implication that there is indeed a Savior who is both willing and able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of saving a people who cannot seem to realize they need saving, much less muster the will or the wisdom or the power to save themselves. Hebrews has much more on this deep truth.
Satan’s head is as good as crushed! If we remember way back to Genesis 3:15, we start to realize that this baby is the offspring of woman, promised at the fall of man, who will once and for all crush Satan’s head. Maybe the best implication of Jesus coming to save his people from their sin is that the curse of decay and death and depravity that sin has inflicted on this earth has a time limit. Revelation has much more about this glorious reality.
Even now, the salvation Jesus accomplished saves people from sin’s penalty, regenerating eternal life in every person who trusts Him as Savior. Even now, the salvation Jesus accomplished saves people from sin’s power, giving them an indwelling Holy Spirit who enables them to deny sin and follow Him. And even now, the salvation Jesus accomplished is marching forward toward His return where all He has saved will be saved for all eternity from the very presence of sin.
But just like Joseph, we must decide what to do with these facts. Joseph woke up and obeyed the word of the Lord that had come to him. What about you? Do your objections, skepticism, doubts keep you from receiving the salvation Jesus won for you or fully enjoying the implications of all that it means? Will you go to an omniscient God today and allow Him to put His powerful finger at the root of your resistance and give you faith to believe?
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Offices by Biblica, Inc.™