You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The fact that God became flesh means God understands you, but it means something more than that as well. And that is the third foundational fact on which the Christmas story is built: the fact of Christ’s atoning work. Why did Jesus come to earth in human form? It was not just to model what it means to follow God. The basic reason Jesus came was to provide atonement, a covering, for our sins. And that was part of the plan from the very beginning. The angel said to Joseph: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
When Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment from God that you and I deserve for our sins. In one of the greatest passages about Christmas, Paul explained it this way: “Christ Jesus . . . although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). God willingly gave up His rights as God, lived a life of humiliation and rejection, and suffered the punishment for His creatures’ sins.
One year, a couple of days before Christmas, I was flying home to Dallas from Tampa, Florida. A young man sat down next to me on the plane. When he found out that I was a pastor, he wanted to talk about spiritual things, so we discussed everything from denominations to “The Da Vinci Code.” Throughout the conversation, he said the same thing several times: “I just can’t believe we’re sitting here talking. It has to be more than a coincidence that when I’ve been thinking about all these things, suddenly you appear here to answer my questions.”
After about the third time he said that, I replied, “You’re right. It’s not a coincidence that I’m sitting here. God has me here because He has a message for you. He wants you to know that He loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you so that you can have eternal life.”
It was evident to me that this young man had never heard that before. He said, “You know, Pastor, just hearing that makes you feel good, doesn’t it?” Just then, a little girl about three rows back began to sing at the top of her lungs, “Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King: peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’” God and sinners reconciled–that makes you feel good, doesn’t it? And the best part of the message: it is true.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God In A Stable: Fact Or Fable?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org