Today we meet the arrival of Jesus, and the meaning behind his name – salvation.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
In this Christmas Grow Daily series we’ve descended the lengthy family tree of Jesus, and along the way we’ve highlighted a few notable people in that tree – father Abraham, his son Isaac, Boaz and his wife Ruth, their great-great-grandson Solomon, and Hezekiah. We’ve now come to the arrival of the person who gives this family tree its ultimate importance – Jesus.
There are a few things I could look at in this passage, but I’ll just focus on the angel’s words in verse 21.
I read that the name Jesus was given to sons as a symbolic hope for God’s sending of salvation through a Messiah who would save his people from oppression. If that’s true, perhaps the angel’s statement is a little interesting. The angel says that He will be called Jesus because He will save people from their sins. Perhaps that is a corrective for the expectations of the people at that time. They were hoping for a political Messiah to release them from their oppressors. Instead they got a Messiah whose mission was the salvation of their souls.
We’re probably in similar need of a corrective today, but our expectations are different (they’re probably not centred on being released from oppressive rulers, as they were for the first-century Jews). But still, we might expect Jesus to save us from particular earthly circumstances. And God’s purpose might not align with ours, just like it didn’t with the first-century Jews.
But what is a core purpose of Jesus, implied by the angel? Salvation from sin. May the fact that Jesus stooped to earth to become one of us, to win us salvation, the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our souls, fill our hearts with joy this Christmas time, no matter what unmet expectations we may carry in our lives.
Head: Find a good Bible commentary and have a look at the background to this passage. What might this passage reveal about the character and integrity of Joseph?
Heart: How does the meaning of Jesus’ name affect what and how we think about him?
Hands: How can your evangelism be shaped by a main mission of Jesus being to save people from their sins?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for those of us who have been Christians for a long time, and who have observed many years of Christmas celebrations. We pray that this time of year wouldn’t be a stale ritual, but that this year we would feel afresh the sheer goodness and love of Jesus, the eternal God of the universe, stooping to come to earth as a man, a central mystery of our faith. We pray for new Christians, that this Christmas would light a flame in their hearts that burns, however faint at times, for the rest of their lives. And we pray for non-Christians, that something about this Christmas time would draw them towards Jesus, as the winner of salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
A song to listen to: Hark the Herald https://open.spotify.com/track/0KFCTUZO9x9AeBwAgiCQBD
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous Christmas series in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.