Day 7 – He Will Save His People from Their Sins

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

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Before Jesus was even born, Joseph was told that his son would be humanity’s Savior. Jesus-Joshua, as he would have been called by Mary and Joseph- means “the Lord saves.” The messenger told Joseph in a dream to give his son that name because he would save his people from their sins.

I won’t try to discuss here how Jesus saves his people from their sins; I’ve devoted the better part of another book to that. But let’s pause for a moment to think about sin and what it means. The primary Hebrew and Greek words that translated into English as sin mean “to stray from the path” or “to miss the mark.” The same Greek word was used to describe what happened when an archer shot an arrow and it missed its target. Sin is a deviation from God’s path or mark, and we are all prone to do this. Consider the classic “seven deadly sins”: lust, gluttony, greed, indifference, wrath, envy, and pride. Which of us hasn’t wrestled with several of these with some regularity? And when we routinely commit these sins, we find that we experience pain and separation from God and others.

I think several men over the years who have sat in my office in tears describing the breakup of their marriages over infidelity or the man I greet after church who cannot seem to break free of his addiction to alcohol, despite the fact that it cost him his family. I think several church members, professional and respected people in the community, who ended up in prison over choices they made. I think of a woman who wept as I prepared to give her communion, saying she wasn’t sure she was good enough to take it. And I think of my own life, and how many times I’ve done things I have been ashamed of.

I can’t see you, but I think I know something about you. This is what I know: you have a few secrets too. There are things you’ve said or done or thought that you don’t want anyone else to know about, things that make you squirm or cringe or even cry when you think about them. Alongside those things you may have done, or thought of doing, are the things you didn’t do that you were meant to do-sins of omission, things God was counting on you to do but which you chose to rationalize away.

Part of the gift of Christmas is the gift of a Savior. Jesus came to save us from our sins. He came to show us the way, the truth, and the life. He came to redeem us, suffer for us, cleanse us, forgive us, and heal us. Paul once wrote it this way: “Wretched man that I am, who can save me?” He went on to answer his own question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 paraphrase).

Christmas comes with the promise of salvation from our sins, wrought by the child who was born in Bethlehem.

 

            Lord, thank you for mercy and grace. Forgive me for __________________________________. 

{Confess those things that you continue to carry guilt over.} Thank you for sending Jesus to save and deliver me. Help me, in thought, word, and deed, to live a life that pleases you. Amen.

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