Tuesday, December 15, 2015

God Came to Save

Part 3 of Unwrapping Christmas

Text: Matthew 1:21

You can listen to this sermon here.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). 

Baby Names

Naming a baby is a big deal! It’s interesting to look back and see and what the most popular baby names were the year before. In Canada, the top names for baby girls in 2014 were (1) Olivia, (2) Maya/Mia/Mya, (3) Sophia/ Sofia, (4) Emma, and (5) Charlotte. The most popular names for baby boys were (1) Liam, (2) William, (3) Jacob, (4) Lucas/Lukas, and (5) Noah. Every year there are unique baby names. Last year in Alberta, babies were named Bandit, Huckleberry, and Thunderboy. 

It’s probably a good thing that the responsibility of naming the baby wasn’t given to Joseph and Mary. Imagine trying to pick a name for a baby conceived “from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20)!

The Name "Jesus"

Joseph was told by the angel to “call [the baby’s] name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). “Jesus” was a common name in those days. Jesus was often called “Jesus of Nazareth” because there were many other men named Jesus. Why the name Jesus? The angel said, “For he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

“Jesus” was a fitting name for someone born to be a Saviour. 

We could replace the word “for” with “because”: “You shall call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” The name “Jesus” means “Yahweh (i.e., the LORD) saves.”

God to the Rescue

Psalm 130 promises that God would bring salvation to Israel: “And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (v. 8). How would Jesus “save his people from their sins”? During the Last Supper, Jesus took a cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Jesus would save people through his death on a cross. The New Covenant is a promise that all who trust in his atoning death will be saved (i.e., forgiven of their sins).

Good News of Great Joy!

When something good happens in our lives, we want to share the news with others.

The story of Jesus being born to be our Saviour is news worth sharing! 

The angel said to the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). What was the “good news of great joy”? “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Why do we often fail to share the good news of Jesus’ birth with others? Do we really consider what Jesus has done for us “good news of great joy”? Or has the story become old to us?

[1] http://www.todaysparent.com/top-100-baby-names-in-canada-2014/

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/07/30/alberta-baby-names_n_7906094.html

[3] The symbolic use of names is common in the Bible (e.g., Gen. 41:51-52).

[4] In Greek, the name is Iesous, translated “Joshua” in the Old Testament and “Jesus” in the New.

[5] In Luke 1, Zechariah, knowing that the Messiah was soon to be born, exclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (v. 68).

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