Matthew 1:18-21 “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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
In my reading on Christ for this Christmas season, I came across a commentary from Matthew Henry on the above Bible passage. I remember reading and using my wife’s Matthew Henry Commentary ages ago for my research for a Bible Study at church on the book of John, and find his expounding of the Scriptures amazing for understanding the truth that never goes out of date and can be used in daily application; this one for Christmas. He writes that, in its exposition of the gospel, the Heidelburg Catechism turns to the second major section of the ancient Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” The true “One Way” is Jesus Christ!
Romans 4:25 -5:2 “He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Matthew Henry points out that this gospel passage (above) focuses on Christ’s role as Savior, looking to the name of Jesus and its significance. This passage is one of the proof texts for seeing Jesus’ role as Savior revealed in the name given at His birth. The angel of the Lord told Joseph to name the child Jesus, explaining that it was the proper name for the boy because “he will save his people from their sins”. Iesous, the Greek name for “Jesus”, is actually a transliteration of the Hebrew mane Yehoshus, or “Joshus”, which means “Yahweh is salvation”. In that child, the name “Yahweh is salvation” reached its fulfillment because it was given to the incarnation of Yahweh Himself. This is the real meaning of Christmas … Immanuel: God with us; God among us in the flesh; the day of our Lord’s visitation; the promised Messiah has arrived.
John 3:14-16 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man (the Savior) must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The angel was speaking of two aspects of salvation. First, Jesus saves his people from the penalty of their sins in their Justification, where those who by faith believe, repent and accept the blessed Redeemer’s atoning sacrifice on the cross in their place to die for our personal sins, are covered by Christ’s blood and exchange their sin (past, present and future) for His perfect righteousness forever. Bearing the wrath of God against sinners on the cross, Jesus took the condemnation we deserved so that by faith alone His righteousness might be imputed to us, granting us eternal life. Second, Jesus saves His people from the power of sin in their sanctification, the process of godly improving and growing into the likeness of Christ. Having been exalted to the Father’s right hand, Christ pours out the Holy spirit on His people (brethren) that they might receive new hearts, empowering them to stare down sin and live in holiness.
Romans 8:1-4 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteousness requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”
Finally, the angel used the phrase “his people”, which is one of the key texts on the intent and extent of atonement. Meaning, Jesus died for a particular people, not to atone for every person who ever lived. There are many who believe that everybody goes to heaven when we die because Jesus died for all sin, whether or not they repent of their sins and believe by faith that Jesus is the Son of God sent to die as their personal Savior and accept Christ as the Lord of their life. Sin is a willful violation of God loving Commandments, laws and statutes and requires judgment and punishment of the guilty. We do not like to think that we sin against God or that we must pay for our sins in eternal damnation and take it far so lightly. Yet, it’s the truth and the reason that God, out of mercy and grace sent Jesus. If Jesus had atoned for every person, believers and unbelievers, then all people would be forgiven and God could not justly send anyone to hell. Either Jesus the Savior pays of our sins or we pay for them.
Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please this sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Matthew Henry comments that Jesus saves His people from the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, from the dominion of sin by the Spirit of Grace – amazing grace! In the saving the believer from sin, He saves them from wrath of God against sin, from the curse of “Original Sin” at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and all misery here and hereafter. Jesus truly is the Savior of the world because He saves his people from their sins, and that is something to celebrate and be merry about at Christmas. Halleluiah!
Romans 3:21-26 “No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption hat came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrated His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
Merry Christmas, Brian