Put yourself in the shoes of Abraham just for a second. Imagine God literally speaking to you and saying, “I will make you a great nation.” Think about how much of a promise that is. Through you, God is going to make his people. Sounds like a great promise, but also a huge responsibility. You will carry God’s people through history. Your family. Your life. A huge responsibility for a man that was an idol worshiper at one time. But God had a plan.
However, let’s fast forward to Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and so on. You see a trend here. Have you noticed that none of these men except Joshua were able to see the promised land? The promise was made centuries before Joshua was ever born and it was through him that the promise was coming true or being fulfilled. If I were in that situation, I would be questioning some things.
What’s going on with God? Is he late? Is he punishing me for something and making me wait? What’s the deal?
Let’s fast forward several hundred years to Isaiah. All over his book you have a prophecy about Christ and his coming and even his crucifixion. Here are just a few:
Isaiah 7:14—Isaiah prophesies that a pure young woman will give birth to God’s son.
Isaiah 9:6—Isaiah prophesies that Jesus Christ will come as a baby; Jesus is described by several names.
Isaiah 53:4-6 – Isaiah prophesies that a spotless lamb would endure the punishment of God’s wrath for sinners in their place.
How would you feel if God promised you something and then ended up not fulfilling it until centuries after you were dead? (I know you wouldn’t know about it, but lets just say you did.) What would you feel?
Think about it. Think about the people of Israel and how they felt, awaiting a “Messiah.” Who knows how many times that someone came into their towns and said that they were the Messiah. It happens all the time, it seems like, in America. People say that they are Jesus and they are the answers to the worlds problems. The Bible even says that people will do this until Christ returns. But we, living in the 21st century, know that Christ has already come. However, there are people in the Jewish community that believe he hasn’t. They believe that Christ was not God, but maybe a prophet or a good teacher. We know that he was the Messiah. Yet once again, put yourself in the shoes of the Israelites. Christ had not come yet, and they did not know when to look for him or even what to look for. They had heard prophecies and promises that the Messiah would come and rescue them. These people knew nothing about this Messiah, except for what the prophets had told them.
Mary and Joseph
Now we are to the point where it is almost time for Mary and Joseph, a young Jewish couple, to be married and Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. Guys, how awesome would that be to find out that your fiancé was pregnant, but she promises you and assures you that this was an act of the Holy Spirit? Remember, the angel has already appeared to Mary and said that she would have the Messiah and that her cousin, Elizabeth, would have John the Baptist. So Mary knows what is going on, but Joseph is refusing to listen. In fact, Joseph wanted to break it off with Mary, behind the scenes, so no one could find out. But that did not happen, and then an angel appeared to Joseph and explained what Mary had just told him.
Matthew 1:21: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus..”
“You shall call his name Jesus”
What a powerful name! It means that Yahweh will save. Jesus will save. All other names such as Joshua, Jeshua, Jehoshua were all people who took this name and testified to the Lord’s salvation. But Jesus was different, because Jesus was the salvation. How do I know that? Because the latter part of verse 21 says so:
Matthew 1:21: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Jesus came to earth for nothing more that to save you from sin. He came to offer you a gift that is far better than any gift your could ever receive on Christmas. When we can grasp the seriousness of this and understand that Jesus literally had one mission: to save sinners, we can understand the true meaning of the season of Christmas. Jesus came to be the propitiation for you!
Propitiation – [pruh-pish-ee-ey-shuh n]
It literally means that Jesus came to take your punishment. He came to please the wrath of God in your place. But see, we don’t normally look at the crucifixion that way. We normally look at the gloriousness of our salvation through the eyes of the crucifixion, when really we should look at the seriousness of the crucifixion as a means for our salvation. We are saved only because Christ came, born of a virgin to redeem us and to please God’s wrath and judgment toward us in our place. Jesus came to die for you in your place. Christmas means so much more than just celebrating his birth. We celebrate our redemption because of Christ’s incarnation.