25 words – or thereabouts

So today is the first of October, the first day in the “Live Light in 25 Words” campaign put on by the Bible Society. I’m trying to write a post every day of this campaign… We’ll see how I go!

The first bible passage is from Matthew 1:21 (read it in context at Bible Gateway). The 25 words for today are taken from Matt. 1:21:

“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.”

This passage tells of Jesus’s birth. Matthew doesn’t go into detail in his account; you need Luke chapter 2 for that. Matthew instead focusses on Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father. He finds out that Mary is pregnant and decides to “divorce her quietly” (Matt. 1:19). This is remarkable. He would have been totally justified in the eyes of Jewish law to report her, and she would have been killed, as Mosaic law commanded:

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10.

God was at work!

God sends one of His angels to speak to Joseph, who tells him what’s going on. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall. I can imagine what my reaction would be. Shock, fear, awe and amazement are a few words that come to mind. Even if it was in a dream.

Something interesting I found out: Jesus means “God saves”. I knew that Immanuel (which is another name Jesus is given in this passage) means “God with us”, but I never thought to look up the meaning of Jesus’s name. Silly really. I know that most Hebrew names are chose because of their meaning.

Joseph’s trust in the Lord by going through with marrying Mary – amazing! Then he doesn’t sleep with her until after her birth. It must have been nerve-wracking to know that he was going to help bring up the Saviour of mankind, and God Himself! What a blessing. What a miracle.

Never fear. I’m nearly done. I know I’m rambling. 🙂

Bible Society kindly gives a question to ponder with that verse. Today’s is:

Question: How would you explain what it means, that Jesus ‘saved his people from their sins’ to a friend who is not a Christian?

An excellent question. The place I’d start is with what we mean when Christians say “sin”. The popular secular – and, occasionally, Christian – understanding of the idea is that “sin” are acts that the Bible deems inappropriate. In actuality, these acts are just symptoms of the bigger problem, the real reason that we deserve to be condemned by God – sin is the absence of a relationship with God. I like to define it as “big S Sin and little S sin”, where Sin is the main problem (no relationship with God) and sin is the symptom, the visible outcome of a lack of a relationship with God.

So why does God care so much that people don’t want a relationship with Him? Well. God is referred to as a Father in much of Scripture, so I’ll stick with that analogy.

Imagine with me for a moment a father and his children. They have an amazing relationship, until one day, out of the blue, the children (let’s say there’s three of them) decide that they hate their father, who has given them everything they could ever want and need. They never want to speak to him again, and teach their children to feel the same way. And out of under the guidance, care and advice of their father, the child and their children live their life however they want, though it hurts them, but even more, know it hurts their father.

Now put God, who is the Father of all mankind, in the place of the metaphorical father and us (mankind) in the place of the children and you kind of come close to how God feels. He doesn’t want us to be estranged from Him. And so He devises a way that we can be fully restored to a right and personal relationship with Him. You see, God requires perfection. Not “I do my best to do the right thing”, or “I am generally a nice person”, but “in my life, I have never, ever done anything that is contrary to what my Lord and Father has commanded in His Word”.

Quite obviously, this impossible.

But God is so great! He knows how hard is is to live up to His standard. That is where Jesus comes in. Jesus is a unique person. He is fully human – He suffered every temptation we do, and He was hated and hurt by those He loved. But He wasn’t just human – He was also fully God, God in human form. You see God knew that we needed an out. That we couldn’t live up to His standards on our own. The only person to live up to them is God, and so He sent Himself as Jesus, to live on the earth.

But the punishment for Sin (remember – big S equals lack of a relationship with God) is death (Romans 6:23), and we all must pay the price for our rebellion if we cannot be reconciled with God.

So how does He solve this?

Let me remind you of Matthew 1:21:

“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.”

How?

The Resurrection, the day that all Christians cheer. You see, Jesus lived a perfect life. He was blameless and whole, and life His life in perfect relationship with God His Father. This set Him up as the perfect redeeming sacrifice for our salvation.

In His death, on the cross, Jesus took on all our sin and rebellion and hatred of God, and removed it from us. This Man who was perfect and whole sacrificed Himself and took on all of God’s anger at our betrayal. He gave his life so that we could live ours and be reconciled to God our Father. And His resurrection means that the sacrifice was accepted, and that we can live with God, fully reconciled to Him.

For more, pick up your nearest Bible (preferably an NIV or ESV) and read Romans chapter 5 (edit: or click here for the two ways to live). If you have any questions (or corrections…) please comment below. I’m now going to sleep as it’s 12am!

God bless you all.

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