He will save the people from their sins…

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Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

If you’re like me you’ve heard this story many times. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit before Mary and Joseph were married. V.20 tells us that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him what was going on – that the child was of divine origin. What stands out for me on this particular morning is in v.21 “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Why was Jesus sent by God? To save his people from their sins. 

Seems simple enough. As the old Lutheran liturgy used to say, “We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Man, isn’t that the truth? So often my problem isn’t that I don’t know what is expected of me. It’s not a lack of knowledge that gets in my way. What makes me stumble is the part of me that knows what to do and does the opposite anyway. It’s the rebellion baked into human DNA beginning with Adam and Eve. If there’s anyone who needs saving from his sins it’s me. And you. Simple.

What strikes me this morning is my observation that Christians in America continue to wrestle with identifying what exactly is sinful and what is not. This is not simple at all. We wrestle with questions related to sexuality and gender, economic justice, caring for the environment, abortion, appropriate treatment of immigrants, and more. We’re regularly confronted with questions not specifically addressed in scripture so we are left to interpret the times as best we can. Too often we Christians disagree among ourselves and split from one another. It’s not a great witness to an unbelieving world.

Why was Jesus sent by God? To save his people from their sins. 

What gives me hope this morning is that forgiveness of sin is not conditional upon our correct understand of what is sinful and what is not. We’re never going to gain unanimous agreement on these questions this side of Jesus’ return. Not gonna happen. What we CAN agree on is that each human being is born with a predisposition to rebel against the will and ways of God – whatever form that may take. It’s this innate state of rebellion that is the root of all the incidences of rebellion we can “sins”. In Jesus Christ we are made new, saved from the eternal death which is the consequence of sin, empowered to live eternal life – right now. 

So as I close this blog post I’m lifting up before the Lord my sin, my brokenness, my failings before God and man – which are many. Lord Jesus see before you a sinner in need of redemption. By grace forgive my sins and make me into the man you’ve always wanted me to be. I cannot do it, but you have the power to do what I cannot. Thank you for your faithfulness in this and all things. Amen.

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