Summary: The Savior offers to save sinners from their sins. Jesus is the Jubilee.
All I Want for Christmas is Forgiveness
Rev. Brian Bill
Two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion George Foreman not only sells grills; he has five girls and five boys. All of his sons bear his name: George Junior, George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. He likes to joke that he can never remember their names.
Joseph never had the privilege of choosing a name for Mary’s son because he technically was not the father. But he did have the honor of declaring that the baby would have the name Jesus. Please turn to Matthew 1. Joseph’s fiancée Mary was pregnant and because he was a righteous man, he had decided to distance himself from her and divorce her privately so as not to shame her publicly. He was no doubt hurt and all his hopes of a happy home were shattered.
That night as he tumbled into a troubled sleep, something remarkable happened. Listen to verses 20-21: “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. 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.’” As much as Joseph loved Mary, he struggled to believe her story. He was having a difficult time understanding the incongruity of the incarnation in the womb of his wife-to-be. Remember he hadn’t yet heard what Gabriel had said to Mary in Luke 1:37: “For nothing is impossible with God.” To his credit, he didn’t rush to judgment, but certainly leaned toward cutting himself off from her. But God had other plans.
The angel then verifies the veracity of what Mary had told him. The child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary was not unfaithful to him after all! Joseph is to take Mary as his wife, become the legal father and name the baby “Jesus.” The baby’s name was not to be Joseph Junior but just Jesus.
1. An Ordinary Name. When a baby is born he or she needs a name but Joseph and Mary did not have to go through baby name books to find one. The angel took care of that for them. On the one hand, Jesus was a very common name, much like George or John today. The Jewish historian Josephus refers to about twenty men during this time called Jesus. Colossians 4:11 mentions Jesus Justus, a friend of Paul.
This helps us see that on the one hand Jesus was ordinary, approachable and touchable. He was a friend you could talk to. And Hebrews 4:15 tells us that because he has gone through what we go through “he sympathizes with our weaknesses.” Those who knew Him best in the Gospels simply referred to Him as Jesus some 600 times, though at times titles like “Jesus Christ” and “Lord Jesus” were also used.
2. An Extraordinary Mission. While his name was Jesus, the angel added that His moniker was His mission: “…because He will save His people from their sins.” Many of you know that I’m on the board of Keep Believing Ministries. Just recently Ray Pritchard made a statement that resonated with all of us. When asked to explain what we do, he said this: “Our name is our mission.” That means that our purpose is to help people keep believing.
Jesus is the Greek form of a Hebrew name, translated as Joshua or Jeshua. The full name is “Jehoshua” which means “Jehovah is our salvation.” The mission of Jesus is to save people from their sins. His name is His mission. That’s what His name means and that’s why He came on Christmas. He is both ordinary and extraordinary. He is Son and Savior, majesty and man. As Savior, Jesus came to set us free from sin, and to deliver us from the dominion of the devil. Someone has said:
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
When Joseph and Mary later brought Jesus to the Temple, a man named Simeon came up to them and said in reference to Jesus: “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). Right after that, Anna spoke about the “child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.”