Summary: The angel gave Joseph a message that changed his plans. We will want to obey God too, when we realize Jesus saves us from our sins.
The Christmas Angels – Part 3 CCCH 12-19-99
Step with me, if you will, for a moment into the world of the Middle East around 3 B.C. It’s difficult to do, I know, but we have a good reference here.
A. After learning about Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph was faced with a tough decision.
B. Joseph was not unrighteous for wanting to divorce Mary. In fact, the manner in which he chose to proceed shows that he was a righteous man. (Matthew 1:19)
3 reasons why Joseph might have sought divorce
1. Jewish and Roman law both demanded that a man divorce his wife if she were found guilty of adultery.
(In fact, Roman law actually treated a husband who failed to divorce an unfaithful wife as a panderer exploiting his wife as a prosititute.
2. Because others would assume that Joseph himself had gotten her pregnant unless he divorced her, his reputation was at stake for the rest of his life.
3. Joseph could have profited financially by divorcing Mary publicly. By taking her to court, he could have impounded her dowry – the total assets she brought into the marriage – and perhaps even gotten back the bridal price, if he had paid one at betrothal.
C. Even though Joseph was going to take the least painful route to terminating the relationship, God sent an angel to reveal another option.
1. “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of 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.” (Matthew 1:21)
2. Mary was also told by an angel to name the child Jesus (Luke 1:31). This name literally means, “the Lord saves.”
What does it mean to be saved from sin?
What does sin do to us that we need to be saved from it?
The Angel’s message to Joseph was one of salvation. News that changed his plans. News for us...
D. THESIS: We will want to obey God when we realize Jesus saves us from our sins.
TRANSITION: Let’s appreciate this angel’s message a little better by reflecting on 3 elements of sin from which we are saved.
I. WE ARE SAVED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
A. Jesus gives us a new situation in life
1. To be saved means that our status before God has changed.
2. We’ve gone from sinner to saved
3. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
Bible describes salvation with word pictures like this:
Redeemed – payment of our sin penalty has been paid by Christ
Justified – declared innocent by the one who is fit to Judge
Adopted – Now a member of God’s family
Reconciled – All previous estrangement has been overcome and healed
ILLUS - Twenty-one year old Christina Grady had to pay the penalty for her crime...while standing outside a major department store. Twice convicted of shoplifting at a JC Penney in North Carolina, she was ordered by the court judge to stand outside the store’s entrance while wearing a sign that read, "I have been convicted twice for shoplifting at JC Penney. I am truly sorry for what I did." Perhaps the judge had just finished reading The Scarlet Letter, but for whatever reason the judge gave her this choice in order to avoid a 45 day jail sentence.
TS-- What if a Judge who was totally innocent saw the woman in embarrassment as she started to attach the placard around her neck, and as the shoppers started to pull in the lot, the judge said, give that to me, you can leave and I’ll wear it for you." That’s what Jesus did.
R.C. Sproul has said, “Moses could meditate on the law. Mohammed could brandish a sword, Buddha could give personal counsel, Confucius could offer wise sayings, but none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus alone is qualified.”
The importance of the Virgin birth – fully God – untainted by sin – fully man – able to share in our sufferings.
That’s why in our carols we sing things like…
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
“Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”
B. Being saved from the penalty of sin causes us to love God instead of being afraid of Him.
Because he alone gave this gift to us and paid the penalty himself. You will call his name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
TRANSITION: Jesus saves his people from the penalty of sin. The second element we can reflect on is that…