As we come to Christmas, this week I want to take a break from our current series of going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism. Instead I want to take some time to look at what it means that the Son of God was also called ‘Jesus’.
A popular text to include on Christmas cards are the words that the angel spoke to Joseph: ‘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’ (Matthew 1:21). But what does it mean that Mary’s son was to be called Jesus?
J.C. Ryle, a great preacher from the 1800s, helps explain: ‘The name JESUS means “Savior.” It is the same name as Joshua in the Old Testament. It is given to our Lord because “He saves His people from their sins.” This is His special office. He saves them from the guilt of sin, by washing them in His own atoning blood. He saves them from the dominion of sin, by putting in their hearts the sanctifying Spirit. He saves them from the presence of sin, when He takes them out of this world to rest with Him. He will save them from all the consequences of sin, when He shall give them a glorious body at the last day. Blessed and holy are Christ’s people! From sorrow, cross, and conflict they are not saved. But they are saved from sin for evermore. They are cleansed from guilt by Christ’s blood. They are made fit for heaven by Christ’s Spirit. This is salvation.’
Ryle is quite right. Jesus is our saviour because he saves us from the guilt of sin, the dominion of sin, the presence of sin and the consequences of sin. Jesus deals with our sin as no one else can, including ourselves. Practically every other religion teaches that you can save yourself from sin. Whereas Christianity teaches that it is only through Jesus, the one whose name literally means ‘The Lord saves’, that you can be saved from sin.
So how do you accept Christ’s offer to be saved from the guilt, dominion, presence and consequences of sin? You need to repent of your sin and believe that Jesus died for your sins at the cross. Paul teaches this in Galatians: ‘But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe’ (Galatians 3:22). God promises to give salvation to all who believe.
Have you trusted in Jesus to save you from the guilt, dominion, presence and consequences of sin?