The Gift That Keeps on Giving
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21)
During Christmas, the predominant biblical thought among many is most likely the birth of Christ. It is in fact the day in which His birth is celebrated. Nativity scenes can be seen in yards and displayed at local churches. In these scenes, statues of Mary and Joseph are often strategically placed around a crib filled with straw. Animals are then placed along the opposite side of Jesus’ crib and are made to appear as though they are looking at the newborn child. At times, the wise men might even be there to present the child with their gifts. However, in the midst of all of this, there is a prevailing theme in Scripture that can be overlooked and often forgotten. That child in the manger was offering the greatest gift of all.
“And she shall bring forth a son”
Jesus Christ taking on flesh was an essential component in His being the Messiah. Certain requirements had to be met for God to accept those who had fallen. Man had to be righteous, and man had to be without sin. It may seem as though these two concepts are one and the same. While they are closely connected, they are not necessarily equal. A quick look throughout this devotion will reveal these twin towers as essential but different.
The Messiah’s coming was talked about all the way back in Genesis 3:15. This long-awaited time must have been absolutely overwhelming for Mary and Joseph. Nevertheless, it was here, and it was going to happen – Jesus would in fact be born on that first Christmas morning.
“thou shalt call his name Jesus”
God’s plan rules over all. This is even true in the naming of His Son. The Bible makes it clear that while man can make all the plans in the world, it is ultimately the purpose and plans of the Lord that will unfold (Prov. 19:21). God’s plan was for His Son to be named Jesus. Therefore, that is exactly what took place.
Throughout Scripture, names have a tendency to be an indicator of a person’s purpose in life or to be God’s giving a person an identity. Abram was renamed Abraham because Abraham meant “father of a multitude.” Eve meant “the mother of all living.” Jacob was renamed Israel because Israel means “he strives with God.” Moses was given his name because in Hebrew the word sounds like “draw out,” since Moses was drawn out of the water.
Time and time again, names are seen as indicators of something that has occurred, will occur, or is an ongoing occurrence in the life of a person. Jesus is no exception to this general rule.
“for he shall save his people from their sins”
The name Jesus means “He saves.” On Christmas morning, Jesus came for that very reason. Jesus came to save His people from their sin. As was mentioned earlier in this devotional, Jesus had to take on flesh. Two reasons for this point are made very clear in the Scriptures and find their place in the verse above.
First, when Adam and Eve fell in the garden, sin came upon all mankind. Man stands guilty before God for three reasons: (1) Adam sinned, and everyone who came after Adam inherited sin from Adam. (2) Since Adam sinned, his sin/guilt is imputed to everyone who came after him. Simply put, “imputed” means that Adam’s sin/guilt was credited to all of humanity since Adam is recognized as the head of all mankind. (3) If these two reasons were not enough, mankind only compounds the problem by continuing to commit sinful acts.
Second, if Jesus came to simply take away the sin of mankind, then humanity would still be left with a problem. At the beginning of creation, there was not a sin problem, but rather Adam and Eve had the opportunity to walk in righteousness and eat of the Tree of Life. However, they did not do it and fell as a result. If the sin of man was just erased, mankind would be placed back into a garden-type of situation where he still has to be able to perform up to God’s high standards.
The thought of this is absolutely daunting. Adam and Eve did not do it. It does not seem like there is any good reason to believe that anyone really could. For this reason, Jesus did not just die on the cross for the sin of mankind, but He also fulfilled God’s righteous requirements. He had to become a man in order to do this. He had to be born under the law in order to fulfill the law. Christ’s perfect life is offered to all who would believe in Him and His work and who repent of their sin.
Truly, this Christmas is a time of remembering that Jesus came to save His people from their sin.
For Further Study: Read Gal. 4:4-5. In what two ways did Jesus identify with man? Why did He do so (v. 5)?