************ Sermon on Matthew 1:21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 13, 1998
"Call Him Jesus Because ..."
Topic: Christ's Name
What's in a Name? According to a newspaper item, James Williams of Beaumont, TX, promised his wife Cosandra that she could choose the name for their baby girl. "Just before we got married, Cosandra told me that she wanted our child's first name to contain parts of every family name ever used," said Williams. "I didn't think it was too great an idea, but I agreed to compromise. We decided I would name the boys and she would name the girls."
In September 1987 Cosandra had a baby girl. The baby is called Jameshauwnell, short for an unpronounceable, 1,019-letter conglomeration of letters.
Today, the third Sunday of Advent and Lord's Supper, we want to look at the name given to the baby in the manger.
I The Name "Jesus"
A When a baby is born he or she needs a name. The baby born in Bethlehem had to have a name. But Mary and Joseph did not have to think of one. The angel commanded them, "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21). Mary and Joseph obeyed the angel because he was the Lord's messenger. So the Child's name became "Jesus".
The Son of God was given a name. Just like any other baby He was given a name. And, for that time and place and among those people, it was a rather ordinary name.
B "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Is the name "Jesus" important? Would it have been okay for Mary and Joseph to give Him another name? Could they have called Him Jeremiah or Zechariah or Fred or Jon or Adrian? Absolutely not! It was very, very important that the baby in the manger be called Jesus.
In the Bible a name is very important. It tells us something about the person with the name. For instance, Abram's name was changed to "Abraham" because he would be "the father of many nations." "Isaac" means "laughter" and recalls the laughter and joy of Abraham and Sarah when they received a son in their old age. Hannah called her son "Samuel" because she asked him of the Lord.
In the Bible we are told about a mother who was told bad news as she having a baby. She was told that the Philistines beat Israel in battle and took the ark of the covenant. With her last breath, just before she died, she named her baby "Ichabod." How would you like the name "Ichabod"? It's not a very nice sounding name, is it? And it doesn't have a nice meaning either! It means, "the glory has departed from Israel" (cf 1 Samuel 4:19-22).
Why is the baby in the manger called "Jesus"? The name "Jesus" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name "Joshua." And "Joshua" means "Yahweh saves His people." Just in case we don't understand this, the angel explains it to us: "give him the name Jesus ... because he will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21). The name "Jesus" means "Savior."
Now, then, why is the baby in the manger called "Jesus" meaning "Savior"?" "Because he ... saves his people from their sins." Jesus is exactly Who His name says He is: Jesus is Savior. That name tells us why He took on our flesh. The name "Jesus" tells us why He came to earth. The name "Jesus" tells us why He was born, why He suffered on the cross, why He died, why He arose again from the dead. "Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." The name "Jesus" reminds us that Jesus is Savior, that He came to save, that He died and arose and ascended to save.
C "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." In the Gospel of Luke we can read of the day when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple. In the Temple are more parents with babies; men are standing in small circles and talking; women are standing and showing babies to each other. "And what is his name?" someone asks Mary. "His name is Jesus," she says. "What a nice baby and nice name."
Just then an old man called Simeon comes straight to Mary. His eyes are shining and his voice is trembling. Mary hands over the baby to him because he has the face and appearance of a prophet. He holds the baby and looks to heaven and chants. We sing his words in a song:
Now may your servant Lord,Did you hear what Simeon said? He said that when he sees baby Jesus, he sees salvation (cf Luke 2:21-35).
according to your word,
depart in exultation.
My peace shall be serene,
for now my eyes have seen
your wonderful salvation.
He is barely finished when a very old woman, Anna, a prophetess, comes hobbling over. She takes one look at Jesus and then tells everyone that she has seen the Savior (Lk 2:38).
Simeon and Anna knew the most important thing there is to know about Jesus. They knew that Jesus is the Savior. "Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Jesus is Savior. For us on this third Sunday of Advent, this Lord's Supper Sunday, this is also the most important thing there is to know about Jesus.
II Jesus Saves From Sin
A "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Jesus is Savior. Jesus is our Savior. This means, this implies, that we need saving.
We all know why we need saving. We need saving because of sin.
This past week in preparation for the Lord's Supper we were asked to examine our lives. We were asked to think about our many sins. We were asked to humble ourselves in repentance before God.
I need to say that all of us gathered here this morning are sinners. This means that all of us gathered here this morning need saving. Sometimes people fool themselves into thinking they are good or that they aren't bad and they don't hurt anyone or anything. I say again, they fool themselves into thinking this way. For what does the Bible say:
(Rom 3:10-12) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."Let me repeat: We all are sinners. We all need to repent. We all need saving.
B "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." We not only need saving because of sin but we also need saving from sin.
Topic: SinWhat a vivid picture of sin and the results of sin. Sin is a sinkhole. And, like a sinkhole, the results of sin are just as catastrophic. It swallows up everything in its path. Because of sin lives are ruined, families are wrecked, children are abused, people are murdered, lies are said, alcohol is abused, men and women lead promiscuous lives. Because of sin our natural inclination is to do evil, think evil, and say evil. But these are only the consequences in this life and on this earth.
In December 1985 a 70-foot-wide sinkhole swallowed one home and a carport and forced the evacuation of four homes in a retirement community in Florida. The hole was about the size of a pickup truck when it was discovered. Within three hours it had grown to 30 by 40 feet and had swallowed half of a small house. Two hours later the house was gone. The owners escaped with only their coats, glad to be alive.
Far more devastating then this are the eternal consequences of sin. You need to realize that your sin makes God angry. You need to realize the wrath of God against your godlessness and wickedness (Rom 1:18). You need to realize that the wages of your sin is death, eternal death, death in the everlasting fires of hell (Rom 6:23).
C We can't leave it at this. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus is Savior. Jesus saves us from sin. And He does this so that we can live rather than die. "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
That's what salvation really is: to bring from death to life! Think of a boy or girl in a burning house: if a mother or a father dashes through the flames and throws the child to safety and away from certain death, that's salvation from death to life! Or think of a child who suddenly dashes into the middle of the road. A big truck is coming but the child does not notice. Someone jumps and grabs the child and keep him from being run over. That's an act of salvation – from death to life.
The best known Bible text speaks of this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). To perish means to drown, to burn, to go to hell. God sent Jesus so we shall not perish; God sent Jesus so that we shall live.
D "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." When Jesus came into the world, His own people did not want to believe in Him as a Savior from sin. The Jewish people were looking for a Savior Who would save them, not from sin, but from the Romans who ruled them. So the Jews of Jesus' day did not and could not accept Jesus as the Savior from sin.
Remember the time a paralytic's friends lowered him on his mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus? "Friend," said Jesus, "your sins are forgiven" (Lk 5:20). When Jesus said that, He reminds everyone that He is the Savior from sin. But this made the Pharisees angry.
Unlike the Pharisees, however, we know we must believe in Jesus. We know we must believe Jesus is our Savior – our only Savior – from sin. In fact, in preparing to take the Lord's Supper this morning we were asked to examine our hearts to be sure that we trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.
"You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Right now, congregation, Jesus is Savior. But He will not always be Savior. There will come a day when He will also be Judge.
Topic: ChristIn the same way right now, today, Jesus is Savior. But there will come a day – the judgment day – when Jesus will be Judge. On that day, congregation, Jesus will ask you one thing: "did you believe in me? did you accept me as your Savior?" If the answer is "Yes, I believed," then Jesus will save you from death to life. If the answer is "No," then Jesus has to let you perish.
Subtopic: Savior and Judge
Title: Repent and believe now!
The story is told of a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon.
The child who was saved grew up to become a wicked man, and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who, years before, had saved his life; so he begged for mercy. "You saved me once," he said. "Can't you save me again?" But the judge said, "Young man, then I was your savior; today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged."
"You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
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