This is the one-hundred-eighty-third lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“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
Sometimes a name is just a name, and sometimes a name captures someone perfectly. The ancients inclined to choose names carefully, so as to make a lifelong statement about a person’s identity. “Jesus” is a name so familiar to us today that we easily forget it was a name with extraordinary significance. The name an angel announced should be given to Mary and Joseph’s new child. And what a name! “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.”
He does indeed.
“Call him Jesus,” the angel said, “because he will save his people from their sins.” None of us can save ourselves anymore than a person sinking in a rowboat can save himself by pulling up on the side of the boat. We need a savior, and not just a theoretical savior, but one who really has the power of God to separate us from the tyranny and the guilt of sin.
But there wouldn’t have been a saving sacrifice if there hadn’t been an incarnation. Bethlehem was the start of the mission. We don’t need to wait until Good Friday and Easter Sunday to celebrate the Savior. The saving started at the birth of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph could not have understood all of this, of course. They were obedient and named the newborn Jesus, “the Lord saves,” but how and when the Lord would save them was still a mystery to them. Not so for us. This side of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we know the extent of the saving love of God.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, make me more aware of my sins today and help me know that they shrink before the powerful person of Jesus.
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.