Open your Bibles to Matthew 1:18. Tonight we are concluding our December sermon series, titled “The Incarnation of Christ.” As I have said repeatedly, the purpose of this sermon series is to fix a problem in many of our hearts. This problem is perhaps summarized best by Jesus himself. In Matthew 15 Jesus says,
- Matthew 15:7 – “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
For those of you who have been with us over the last several weeks we have focused on attention on three things so far. 1) The birth of Jesus is the birth of God, 2) All of history exists because God desires to display his glorious grace through His Son, and 3) Christ humbly accepted this assignment from God because he loves His Father and He loves those who believe. Today, we will look at another angel and tackle the question of how is the birth of Jesus relevant our lives. Why should we care about the birth of some Jewish baby 2000 years ago? With that question in mind, turn to Matthew 1:18-25.
- Matthew 1:18-25 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.“
Shall Call His Name Jesus
The verse that I want us to focus on tonight is verse 21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The name Jesus in Greek is “Iēsous” (ē-ā-sü's). Iēsous is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.” Therefore the name Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” It is important to remember that the name Jesus was not selected by Mary or Joseph, but was handpicked by God himself.
This means that God desired that every time someone referred to His incarnate Son, he wanted them to think about the phrase Jehovah is salvation. Why? Because this is why Jesus was born, to implement God's plan of salvation. Jesus says it about himself in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This is the primary purpose of the incarnation.
Salvation from Sin
For people who have never been exposed to Jesus, this name, this statement that the primary purpose of Jesus is to save, should lead them to ask one question, save us from what?
Thankfully, the angel tells us in verse 21, “for he will save his people from their sins.” The essence of Christ incarnation is to save people from their sins, but what does this mean? First let us start with the question, what is sin? One way we can answer this is with 1 John 3:4.
- 1 John 3:4 - “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”
In regards to these laws, every single person who has ever existed has broken these laws of God. God tells us explicitly that “no one is righteous, no not one.” In 1 John 1:8 it says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”
I am constantly amazed by how many people think they are good. You and I are not good. Jesus himself says that no one is good, except God. Every one of us on this planet is a sinner.
Why is this? Because we are born this way. Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” You are a natural born sinner. It is not something you had to learn, it is your predisposed condition. Why? Because of the fall. When Adam disobeyed God in the beginning he plunged humanity into a state of sin. Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—“ Therefore, the Bible is abundantly clear. You, I, and all of humanity since time began have the problem of sin.
However, this may lead you to another question, what is so bad about sin? In fact, some of you in this room may enjoy your relationship with sin. Sin makes you feel good. You enjoy getting drunk, you enjoy cussing and using the Lord's name in vain, you enjoy lusting for people not your spouse, you enjoy counting your money and coveting the things of this world. You see no problem with sin.
And there is a perfectly logical reason for this. You see no problem with sin, because you cannot see. You are spiritually blind.
- 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 - “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,”
- Revelation 3:17 - “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
So what are you blind to? What are you not seeing? You are blind to the realities of God. You are blind that the God who is your creator is not casual about your rebellion against him. He is a Holy God. He is a just God. And He is not amused by your rejection of Him
- Psalm 5:4 - “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
- Psalm 11:5 - “The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. “
- Psalm 45:7 - “you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.”
- Hebrews 9:27 - “ And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”
This is bad news for us, for we have already established that we are sinners, that none of us our righteous. Does this mean we deserve Hell? Absolutely. Our sin against an infinitely Holy and Eternal God demands a punishment that fits the crime, anything less than Hell would be an injustice at the highest level.
So what are we to do? What hope do we have? It is this child who was born 2000 years ago. It is Jesus, Jehovah is Salvation. God, is a Holy and Just God. He hates sin. However, God is also merciful and loving. God provides a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and this way is His Son, Jesus. He is the only way. Being good will not save you, going to Church will not save you, being Catholic or Protestant will not save you, being a rich American will not save you. Only Jesus saves. This is why Jesus was born. As John the Baptist rightfully said, “Behold the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.” Jesus is our only hope.
Save His People
So is that it? Is the gift of Jesus for all people? Is the fact that Jesus was born, lived a perfect life, crucified and resurrected from the dead mean that all of humanity will be saved? No, what does the angel say? Verse 21, “for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus does not save all people. Only His people. So who are his people? Jesus tells us.
- John 10:27 - “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.“
If you have embraced Christ as your one and only hope, then Christmas should be a time of deep and heartfelt joy, for you were destined for God's wrath, but Christ has pulled you from the flames and secured you in his arms for all eternity.
Christmas is not about presents, lights, or food. Christmas is about salvation. Christmas is about the perfect love of God made manifest if the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 4:14-18 - “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. “