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Summary: Christmas series on why Jesus came to earth.

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Matthew 1:18-21 – Messiah Mission #1: Operation Salvation

I found a funny story this week, written by a woman who wanted a change. She said:

In dire need of a beauty makeover, I went to my salon with a fashion magazine photo of a gorgeous, young, lustrous-haired model. I showed the stylist the trendy new cut I wanted and settled into the chair as he began humming a catchy tune and got to work on my thin, graying hair.

I was delighted by his cheerful attitude until I recognized the melody. It was the theme from "Mission: Impossible."

Today we are beginning an Advent series. I’ve called it “The Messiah Mission”. That title, I must confess, isn’t original to me. Last week, Michelle and I were watching an old movie called Deep Impact, about a gigantic meteor hurtling toward Earth. The solution was to send a space shuttle, called The Messiah, armed with nuclear weapons towards the meteor and detonate it. It seemed like a hopeless mission, and it didn’t really work out as it was supposed to. The first blast divided the meteor into 2 meteors, one smaller and one larger, both aiming for earth.

But the captain of the ship came up with a Plan B. He sent the ship itself, still armed with several nuclear weapons, into the larger meteor. Of course, the ship was annihilated, but so was the meteor, and even though millions died by the smaller meteor, Earth was spared.

There’s something beautiful about that. The Messiah was sent on a perilous mission, and the only way to save the world was to die. It is this mission, willingly accepted by Jesus Christ the Messiah, that I want to spend some time looking at. I want to look at the reasons given within the Christmas story, as to why Jesus came to earth. Let’s read Matthew 1:18-21.

An interesting question with no real solid answer is, “When did Jesus know who He was?” We assume He wasn’t born with that knowledge; no baby understands anything, and remember: Jesus was fully human. By the time He was 12, He understood a special connection He had with God the Father. As to whether or not He knew His ultimate mission at age 12, no one can know that.

Of course, when He began His public ministry at age 30, He knew what was happening. He knew why he was on earth. He knew His mission. In His first public sermon, recorded in Luke 4, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61, and says that it refers to Him. He said, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me…” The Greek word for Anointed One is Christ; the Hebrew word is Messiah. Jesus announced Himself as Messiah at the beginning of His ministry. He knew His mission.

He often told people why He came. In John 10:10 He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Matthew 5:17 says, “I have not come to abolish [the Law or the prophets] but to fulfill them.” Mark 1:38 says that Jesus came to minister to people. When asked in Mark 2 why He spent so much time being with sinners, He said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Over the next 3 weeks, we will be looking at the various reasons that Jesus stepped out of heaven and accepted a mission to travel deep into the enemy territory. Part 1 of the Messiah Mission is this: Operation Salvation. Today’s Scripture passage says these words of the angel to Joseph: “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.”

The word itself comes from a process of translating one language into another. The original Hebrew is Yehoshua, or Joshua. That translated into the Greek to be Iesous, and from there into the Latin Iesus. All these mean “Yahweh delivers” or “Yahweh rescues”. What they mean is that the personal God of the universe saves. Jesus means that God saves.

Jesus’ mission, at least the part we’ll look at this week, was to save people from their sins. As I was researching this message, I had to ask the question: what does salvation mean? What does it mean to be saved? And I found myself thinking back to the very basics of the faith. Of my faith. What did it mean when I gave my heart to the Lord? What did it mean for me to be saved? What does that still mean for me today? I’d like us today to remember what it means for each of us, what Jesus did. What did He do when He saved us?

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