“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."”
(Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)
Most of us remember the Christmas story. We remember how an angel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear the Son of the Most High. But we also learn a great deal when we look at the story through the eyes of Joseph.
He was betrothed to Mary. But, when she was found to be pregnant, he planned to divorce her. And the reason for this is obvious: He knew that the child was not his. But, as he considered these things, an angel appeared to him in a dream.
The angel reassured Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t the result of any unfaithfulness on her part. And, for this reason, he was not to fear taking her as his wife.
However, the angel also shared with Joseph what this child would accomplish. He was told that, when this child was born, he was to give him the name Jesus. This name means “The Lord Saves,” or “The Lord is Salvation.” And he was to do this because the child would save his people from their sins.
This is one aspect of the Christmas account that often gets lost in the shuffle. We learn that Jesus was born into this world because of our sin. He came to save us from our sin.
We see in this message our need for a Savior. We are a sinful people who deserve only the wrath of God. And this would be our fate were it not for Jesus.
This is a truth that many of us are reluctant to receive. We’re willing to concede that we’re far from perfect. However, we think of ourselves as good people. And we tend to think that we deserve the salvation and blessing of God.
In fact, we tend to think that it would be unjust of God to condemn us. We tend to think that it would be wrong of him to send us to hell. After all, how could a just God condemn a person who is good?
Unless we realize our condition, the message of Christmas is absolutely meaningless. Unless we see our sin, the penalty we deserve, and our need for a Savior, we cannot receive the message of Christmas. Instead of rejoicing in a salvation that we could not attain by our own power, we’ll only continue in our effort to save ourselves.
However, when we truly understand our lost condition, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning. It’s only then that Christmas becomes more than just a fun holiday. Our heart can’t help rejoicing the undeserved salvation God has provided for us.