“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
As we remember the account of the first Christmas, the truth contained in the above verse is familiar. However, even though we know it well, it’s one that many of us fail to comprehend rightly. What I mean is that we believe Jesus to be the Savior. But we’re looking for him to save us from something other than sin.
We fall into the same trap as the Jews in Jesus’ day. They expected the Savior to be a political ruler. They expected him to save them from their bondage to Rome. So, when Jesus appeared on the scene, he was not what they expected. And, as a result, they failed to receive the blessing he came to provide.
I remember taking a course in college, which focused on Christianity in modern times. The expectation was not that Jesus would save us from sin. The expectation was that Jesus would overturn all of the evils of this present world.
We often think the same way. We look to Jesus, but not for salvation from sin. We look to him to help us in times of financial struggle. We look to him to help us with health issues. We look to him to help our loved ones as they approach the time of their death.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with taking our present needs to Jesus. In fact, he invites us to do so. The problem comes when we look to him only for salvation from our present struggles, and not for the salvation he came to bring.
This is what so many of us do. We look to Jesus to help only with our worldly needs. And, when he fails to do so, or when he fails to answer our prayers in the way we expect, we get angry with him. We deny his love. We deny his power. In some cases, we turn completely away from him.
We must understand that Jesus came into this world to save us from our sin. This, you see, is our greatest need. Because of our sin, we’re destined only for death and hell. But, because of his coming into the world, because of his sacrifice, the forgiveness of sin and eternal life have been made available to all who trust in him.
At the end of this age, all of the evils of this life will come to an end. They will be no more because they are the consequence of sin. Suffering and death are a part of the world in which we live because of the fall of man in the beginning, and because of our ongoing sin.
However, when sin is no more, the consequences of sin will be a thing of the past. When we are made to be like Christ, no longer will we endure the suffering of this age. We will live forever in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
So as we remember Jesus’ birth, and as we remember his salvation, let us remember from what he came to save us. His coming doesn’t mean that our life will be perfect in the here and now. Our current problems don’t reflect his failure to save us. Jesus came into this world to save his people from their sins.