Welcome to Genesis Church and Merry Christmas to everyone. If this is your first time here, my name is Jeff and I’m one of the pastors. Over the past few weeks we have been in a series of lessons that we are calling A Whoville Christmas. We are asking and answering questions like, “Who were the angels?” and “Who were Mary and Joseph?” We have been looking at them to see life lessons that God is saying to us through them. Today, we focus on the primary Who in Christmas. So, who is Jesus? What is God saying to us through Him and why did God send His only Son and why do we celebrate His birth? Why is it a big deal?
To get us started let’s look at Matthew 1 beginning with verse 18. As I read this and you follow along listen and look for the many titles and descriptions we are given about Jesus. The Bible says,
“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. 2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” (Matthew 1:18-2:6)
Throughout that passage you hear Jesus being described as a Messiah, Immanuel, King of the Jews, a ruler, and a shepherd. All of those have very significant meanings and lessons about who Jesus is, but for today I want us to focus in on one of His names and just one verse today. And angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, NLT). The Christmas story is the gospel story. The Christmas story is a story of how God saves people. From a human perspective the Christmas story is the beginning of the greatest story ever told. The Christmas story is not simply a children’s story, but an everybody story. It’s a story that we should celebrate.
So, the baby in the manger is to be given the name “Jesus.” What is so important about that to you and me? What is the significance? God’s Word says the baby is to be named Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins.” What does that mean? The name “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.” God the Father wanted God the Son to have a name that defined His purpose in life. In reality, the Christmas story actually answers the question of why Jesus was born to begin with. Jesus was born to save us from sin. Again, what does that really mean? To understand what it means for Jesus to “save his people from their sins” you need to understand the three tenses of salvation. When Jesus saves us from our sin it means three things.
Jesus saves you from the penalty of sin
Number one, Jesus saves you from the penalty of sin. Christmas is about being saved from the penalty of sin. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (ESV). This is past tense. You have been saved. The moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are forgiven of your sins, you become a part of the body of Christ, you are adopted in the family of God and you have a place in heaven, you move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Your position spiritually is now a child of God, you are in the kingdom of God, you are among the forgiven. Usually, when people think of getting saved they think of this aspect of salvation. Usually when people say, “I’m saved,” they are meaning they are on their way to heaven and not hell.
As a Christian, this happened in your past… the moment you were saved. You were positionally sanctified, set apart for God, the moment you gave your life to Christ and it had nothing to do with how good or bad you were, how holy or unholy you were. When you became a believer God declared you positionally righteous. Because of your faith in Christ and what He did on the cross for you, God declared you forgiven. Your position before God is one whose sins have been removed. You are able to stand before God guilt free. The Bible calls that justification.
Object lesson: Let me show you something. Take a look at this picture of a gift. God’s Word says this salvation that Jesus offers is a gift. Jesus bought you an incredible gift called salvation and He wants you to have it. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (NLT). To receive this incredible gift of salvation you must place your faith in Christ for your salvation and we will talk more about that in a minute.
Jesus saves you from the power of sin
Number two, Jesus saves you from the power of sin. Christmas is about Jesus saving you. Jesus frees you from letting sin dominate your life. Instead of being led by the sinful nature, you are led by the Spirit of God. This does not mean you will never sin. It means you are learning how to live a life that sins less by the power of God. Some people call this practical salvation. It has to do with your everyday life. Practical salvation has to do with your spiritual development day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. Without practical salvation you will never grow as a believer.
Take a look at God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 1:18 which says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (ESV). That is present tense. Happening right now. Jesus saves you from the penalty of sin, that deals with your past and gives you a position in God’s family. Jesus also is saving you from the power of sin, this gives you strength to deal with the sins you face on a practical level. This is called practical salvation. It’s also called sanctification. It deals with your spiritual growth. Here is where you are able to experience inner strength of God’s power to help you overcome your inner struggles.
Object lesson: Take a look at these Christmas lights. Did you realize you can use the Christmas lights to tell the good news of Christmas? For example… the red light represents the blood of Jesus and what He did on the cross, the yellow light represents the golden streets in heaven and where we are going when we die and so on. But today, I want us to focus on the green light. The green light represents our spiritual growth. We are learning what it means to live for Jesus, make wise decision that honor God, and apply His Word to more and more of our lives. This green light reminds us that we are being saved, we are being rescued daily, weekly, and yearly as we learn to live in victory over sin. Jesus is saving us from a lot of wrong decisions, harmful behaviors, and destructive thoughts. We are being saved as we grow spiritually.
Jesus saves you from the presence of sin
Jesus came to save His people from their sins. He saves us from the penalty of sin and saves us from the power of sin. Number three, Jesus saves you from the presence of sin. This deals with your future. This aspect of salvation happens when you get to heaven and your transformation to be like Jesus is complete. If you are a believer in Jesus, when you leave this earth and these corrupt bodies behind and are ushered into the presence of Jesus Christ, you will finally be just like Him. And you will be delivered from the presence of sin forever. This is sometimes called perfect salvation.
Look closely at Romans 5:9 which says, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (ESV). The Christmas story is not only about the birth of Jesus, but it’s about people being born again. It’s about people living for Him and by Him. It’s about people going to Him when their life is over. When we arrive in heaven we will arrive in a place where there is no sin nor the effects of sin. This is why the Bible says things like, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’” (Rev. 21:3-4, NLT). Because of the presence of God and the absence of sin it will be a perfect place, you will be perfect, relationships will be perfect. In other words, you will be completely and perfectly and absolutely saved from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin.
Object lesson: Take a look at one more picture. I think one of the great natural object lessons that God uses to describe our salvation is snow. God’s Word says in Psalm 51:7, “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (NLT). That’s what salvation does for you… it washes you, it cleanses you on the inside. It removes the dirt from your soul. In the future you will not have to deal with sin ever again. The presence of sin will be gone.
Now with all that said, let’s go back to Matthew 1 where we are told, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’” (vs. 20-21, NLT). Who is Jesus?
- Jesus is the one who can save you from sin’s penalty… that’s positional salvation. You have a position in the family of God. You are justified and your sins are forgiven. You are born again.
- Jesus is also the one who can save you from sin’s power… that’s practical salvation. You are growing and learning how to live out the life of Christ in this life. You are learning to live by the Spirit and walk in His steps.
- Jesus is also the one who can save you from sin’s presence… that’s perfect salvation. You will be in heaven where there is no sin, no sorrow, no death and no mourning. You will be in a perfect place with a new perfect body.
That’s salvation. That’s the Christmas story. That’s God’s version and this is why we celebrate Christmas every year.