Text: Matthew 1:18-23
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, her fiancé, was a good 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.’”
We have been in Matthew’s gospel for a couple of years and I am not going to leave his gospel, I am going back to chapter one in this Christmas season. I don’t normally do this but we are moving toward Easter in our regular series and so I want to go back to chapter one for the month of December. Actually, [Lord willing] I am preaching twice today and then again on the 21. All three messages will come from Matthew 1-2 and two from this text. Today we are going to talk about JESUS OUR SAVIOR. Tonight, LORD willing, JESUS OUR IMMANUEL.
Before we get into the heart of the message: lets talk about Jewish customs as related to marriage. The Jewish people had a three step process in the consummation of a marriage between a man and a woman. First, there was the matchmaker who could be an individual or the parents of the children. You can see a good example of a match maker at work in the Fiddler on The Roof, which happens to be my favorite musical. This could take place when the children were babies but usually they were older. The second phase was betrothal. It was a formal engagement but quite different from what we think of as engagement. When a Jewish couple were betrothed, they were to assume the responsibilities of marriage but not the privileges. They did not live together but they could not have relations with anyone else during this time or it was adultery, just as if they were married. The only way to get out of the betrothal was a legal divorce. It was during this second stage that Mary became pregnant so you can imagine the anxiety this created. The third and final step was the wedding which lasted seven days. Marriage was a big deal to the ancient Jewish people and it should be big to us.
Joseph is very disturbed when he discovers that Mary is pregnant. He knows for a fact that he is not the daddy of the child. He loves Mary and does not want her to be stoned or embarrassed, so he is thinking about the problem and how he can do what is right and at the same time not hurt Mary. While Joseph is considering his problem and trying to decide what to do, the LORD appears to him in a dream and says…“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.”
Jesus is the Greek name for Joshua of Old Testament Hebrew. My English name is Jack and it has multiple meanings. A Jack can be a flag on a ship, a mechanical tool or a barn yarn animal just to mention a few. I think my name has over 30 meanings. My Hebrew name is Ya’akov. Jack is the English translation of Ya’akov which in English is pronounced Jacob [heel]. Jesus OT name was Joshua which means “Yahweh Saves”. Joseph was instructed clearly, “Name the child Jesus because He will save people from their sins.”
So that is our subject today…Jesus our Savior
I. THE NEED FOR A SAVIOR
Notice the text, Jesus came to save us from our sins. I have an old Ford Tractor that is 40 plus years old and practically worn out. It is a diesel which complicated things more than ever. When it breaks down, I call Joe. Joe has the right tools and the expertise to work on a tractor. I have all kinds of saws: chain, circular, skill, table, radial arm, zig, hack: if it is a saw, I have it. I may not be able to find it, but I have it some where. BUT, you do not fix a mechanical problem with a carpenter’s tool kit. To fix a mechanical problem, you need mechanical tools and mechanical know how.
How do you fix a spiritual problem? How do you settle the sin debt? We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is no one righteous. Solomon said in Eccl. 7:20, Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. If we all sin, how are we going to fix the problem. We cannot fix a spiritual problem with natural tools. Education is good but it will not fix the sin problem. Technology is nice but it will not fix the sin problem. We have come a long way in medical science but it will not fix the sin problem. You may have billions of dollars but it will not fix the sin problem. Your can cure leprosy with more leprosy or cancer with more cancer and we can fix sin with more sin.
In Ruth 4:14 most translations will use the word ‘redeemer’ or ‘kinsmen redeemer’ but the Hebrew word is ‘ga’al’. The ga’al could redeem a farm from foreclosure, he could redeem his kinsmen from slavery and debt but to do so, he had to have two abilities:  He had to be able [financial resources to do so] and  he had to be willing. In Ruth’s story their were two ga’al’s and both had the ability financially to pay the debt but only Boaz was willing. This story is not about Boaz and Ruth: it is about Jesus and a lost world. Jesus is our ga’al, our kinsmen redeemer. He was incarnated to be our relation.
Long story short: God sent His Son to do something for us that we could never do for ourselves: “To save us from our sins”. Jesus is our ga’al: He was able and willing to save us.
II. HOW DID JESUS SAVE US?
Lets go to Romans 3 in the NLT because I do not know another translation that is so clear on this subject: For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Years ago I read a story about Night Court that was a custom in New York city in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A man was arrested and brought before the judge for stealing a loaf of bread. When he was called to approach the bench, he refused to ma eye contact with the judge. He was staring at the floor. The judge order him to look up but even when he lifted his head, his eyes were looking down. The Judge said, “You must look at me.” Reluctantly, the poor man made eye contact. “What are you here for?” said the judge. “I stole a loaf of bread your honor,” replied the man and “I know that it was wrong. I am guilty.” “If you know that it is wrong to steal, why did you take the bread? Said the judge. “I have five hungry children sir and I have not been able to find work anywhere. I have searched your honor but no one will hire me. I could not stand the thought of facing my hungry children another night so I tried to steal the bread but as you know, I got caught. I am very guilty and very ashamed.” The Judge pounded his gavel almost in disgust and said, “I find you guilty as charged and I fine you 1$.” “But I don’t have a dollar your honor.” “I know that,” said the judge as he reached for his wallet, I giving you the dollar, now pay the bailiff”. Then the judge pounded his gavel a second time and said, “I find everyone in this courtroom for indifference and neglect. How could you let a man and his family starve when you have more than enough. I fine everyone in the courtroom 1$, pay the bailiff.” Then he instructed the bailiff, “Give the money to this gentleman so he can buy food for his family.”
How did Jesus save us: “He paid our fine with His own precious blood.” We were guilty as charged but He took our guilt and sin and gave us His righteousness. F.B. Meyer called it the GREAT EXCHANGE. Jesus gets my sin and shame and I get His righteousness. If that is not gospel, good news, I don’t know what is!
III. WHAT DID JESUS US SAVE US FROM?
More immediately, He saved us from sin and self. Sin is like leprosy. It begins internally and eats its way through the body until it destroys both soul and body. Sin is destructive. Sin is deadly. I tell folks who flirt with drugs, you might as well stick your hand into a den of rattlesnakes as to fool with drugs. Drugs are lethal, they will destroy your mind, body, soul, family, finances, career, marriage, etc. In the end, they are going to leave you dead. Jesus came to save us from destroying ourselves. Today, Jesus stands ready to save you from sin and self if you will repent of sin, turn from sin and turn to Him. Dr. Graham says you must do three things:  Repent and turn from your sin  Trust Jesus to forgive and cleanse you from sin  Commit your life to Him, to follow and obey Him. I agree: this is a sound biblical path: Repent, Trust and Commit.
Ultimately Jesus came to save us from hell and He is the only one who can.
- Paul said [I Tim. 2:5] —For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
- Jesus said [John 14:6]–“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
- Listen folks, only ONE Person can save you from hell and that One person is Jesus.
I had surgery a few weeks back and as a part of my rehab, I walked through the neighborhood during the days I was off from work. It was very cold and I was wearing a hooded coat and had my head bent toward the ground to avoid having the wind hit me in the face. I was walking by a home but hadn’t really paid any attention to where I was when all of a sudden I heard a ferocious dog who sound like he is inches away from my jugular. Right as I turn, he takes flight but before he got to my neck, he hit an 8′ chain link fence and it knocks him sprawling to the ground. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to react: once I saw the fence, I was OK. Had the fence not been there, I might not be here. The fence kept me from getting bit or maybe worse.
- I could say that my courage saved me from the dog but actually, I took my courage from the fence. There was a moment of fright until I saw the fence.
- I could say that my skill saved me from this mad dog but that would also be incorrect. I am old and slow, the dog is young and ferocious. I would be no match for the dog.
- I could say it was the weapon in my hand but I didn’t even have a stick: I have carried one since but that day I had nothing. I had no doubt that the fence saved me from the dog.
A few steps down the path, and the still small voice said to me, “Jesus is your fence, He is the only things standing between you and hell.” Wow! Jesus is my shield: He protects me from sins destructive power and from the devil’s hate. Triple Wow!
If you are a Starwars fan, you will remember the Gungans who lived under water on the planet of Naboo The capital city of Otoh Gunga was anchored to a massive underwater cliff deep within a lake and was a mass of hydrostatic bubbles which keep water out while allowing the Gungans to enter through them. There were satellite clusters outside of the city, including buildings which had been cast out from other Gungan settlements. While the Gungans could survive both on land and underwater, they chose to build their capital city under Lake Paonga to avoid contact with the Nabooian Humans. What I want you to do if possible is remember the invisible [almost] reflector shield used by the empire in their effort to wipe out the Gungans.
I have a slide to help you remember: I have two slides but the one at the top is the one I want to use as an analogy. I want you to think about what Paul said in Ephesians 6:10-12… A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Paul is giving us a list of things that are out to destroy us: mind, soul and body. What protects us from destruction? In a word, JESUS. He is our invisible reflector shield. You can see the shield but it is there and if He were to remove the shield, all would be lost. Jesus and only Jesus stands between us and the destruction that our enemy intends for us. What can I say, “O Hallelujah, O what a Savior.”