The Saviour has Come!
Matthew 1:21 ESV
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Now, the angel tells Joseph that Mary will bear a son. This was to be the promised Seed of the woman, and the Messiah or Anointed (One) sent by God. (Gen. 3:15; cf. Gal. 3:16)
The angel of the Lord tells Joseph to give this child the name ‘Jesus’. (Luke 1:31; 2:21) In the Scriptures, this was a common name, occurring in the form of ‘Joshua’ or one of its variants. Essentially, the name means ‘Yahweh (or ‘YHWH’) Saves’ or ‘Yahweh is Salvation’ (sometimes transliterated as ‘Jehovah Saves’ or ‘Jehovah is Saviour’). However, only in the Lord Jesus Christ would the meaning of this name be fully realised. Those who bore the name ‘Joshua’ previously had borne a name that spoke of the saving or delivering power of God Almighty—the very God whom they served and worshipped.
On the contrary, the Child to be born to the virgin Mary would be called ‘Jesus’ because he would save his people from their sins. In other words, he would come not merely to deliver from earthly slavery, but from moral and spiritual slavery or from slavery to sin, guilt and its consequences.
Furthermore, his name, ‘Jesus’, would not merely reflect the attributes of God as the Saviour and Deliverer of his people, but would indicate that he [Jesus] himself possessed these very attributes: i.e., Jesus the Son is in all respects co-equal with his Father and with the Holy Spirit in power, glory and eternity. His name, ‘Jesus’, is a complete expression of who he is: i.e., ‘Yahweh [is] Saviour’—God (Yahweh) manifest in human form. (John 1:1-2; 10:30; 17:21; Col. 1:15-19; 2:9; Heb. 1:1-14)
Again, the angel reveals to Joseph whom Jesus will come to save: “…He will save his people from their sins.”
The Child to be born and who would be named ‘Jesus’ would come to save his people…from their sins. The Lord Jesus was not coming to save everyone without exception. Rather, he was coming to save his people… i.e., everyone without distinction who called upon the name of the Lord for salvation when convicted and convinced of their sin by the Holy Spirit. This would include ‘his people’ called by the Spirit of God from among all kinds of people, and from every nation, language, colour, class and creed. (John 6:37-39; 17:2,6-10,12)
Immanuel – ‘God With Us’
Matthew 1:22-23 ESV
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The foregoing account of Jesus’ birth was not something unexpected or previously unannounced. The prophet Isaiah had foretold this event centuries before its occurrence. Thus, it is written:
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet Isaiah had announced centuries beforehand the birth of a son to the virgin. This son was to be called ‘Immanuel’; i.e., ‘God with Us’. Clearly, therefore, Isaiah’s prophecy could be fulfilled only in the birth of God the Son, God incarnate, or the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Birth of Jesus
Matthew 1:24-25 ESV
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Greatly comforted and reassured by the angel of God, Joseph awakes from sleep. With complete confidence in the Word and promises of God, Joseph then obeys the Lord by taking Mary as his wife. However, Joseph did not engage in conjugal relations with his wife before the birth of the God’s incarnate Son and until after the wedding ceremonies had been completed some time later.
Ultimately, when this promised Son was born, Joseph and Mary named him ‘Jesus’—as commanded by the angel of God (v.21). Thus, in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesy and that of other prophets of God, and in keeping with the promises of God’s word elsewhere in the Scriptures, the Messiah was born—Jesus, Immanuel, God with Us; who would take away the sins of his people.
This Christmas, we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. We rejoice in the gift that God has given to us–the Saviour who paid the price of sin for everyone who believes. Therefore, let us remember the true meaning and message of Christmas, and let us thank God the Father for his everlasting love, mercy, and grace toward sinful and lost men and women.
[Excerpt from Expository Notes: Gospel of Matthew (chapter 1 verses 21-25). To read or download the full version of these Notes, click on the NT Commentaries menu tab above.]Follow @gordon_lyons