Pastor and author Mel Lawrenz is interrupting his weekly How to Live the Bible series to focus our attention on the wonder of the Incarnation for the Advent season. This week, here’s a Christmas blessing for personal or church use (click here for a printable PDF version; permission granted to reproduce in full form). Christ has come!
Be sure to sign up for the free daily email devotional Christmas Joy. Many people do these 25 readings every year as a rhythm of reflecting on the wonder, the power, and the joy of the coming of Jesus the Christ. Each brief daily reading takes a word from the biblical text associated with the coming of Christ.
“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
Sometimes a name is just a name, and sometimes a name captures someone perfectly. The ancients inclined to choose names carefully, so as to make a lifelong statement about a person’s identity. “Jesus” is a name so familiar to us today that we easily forget it was a name with extraordinary significance. The name an angel announced should be given to Mary and Joseph’s new child. And what a name! “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.”
He does indeed.
“Call him Jesus,” the angel said, “because he will save his people from their sins.” None of us can save ourselves anymore than a person sinking in a rowboat can save himself by pulling up on the side of the boat. We need a savior, and not just a theoretical savior, but one who really has the power of God to separate us from the tyranny and the guilt of sin.
But there wouldn’t have been a saving sacrifice if there hadn’t been an incarnation. Bethlehem was the start of the mission. We don’t need to wait until Good Friday and Easter Sunday to celebrate the Savior. The saving started at the birth of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph could not have understood all of this, of course. They were obedient and named the newborn Jesus, “the Lord saves,” but how and when the Lord would save them was still a mystery to them. Not so for us. This side of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we know the extent of the saving love of God.
Prayer for today:
Lord, make me more aware of my sins today and help me know that they shrink before the powerful person of Jesus.
- How to Live the Bible — A Prayer for the Christmas Season
- How to Live the Bible — Christmas Joy
- How to Live the Bible — Everlasting Father
- How to Live the Bible — A Prayer for the New Year
Get Christmas Joy–A Devotional by Mel Lawrenz to read in December
[If you believe this series is helpful, this is the perfect time to forward this to a friend, a group, or a congregation, and tell them they too may sign up for the weekly emails here]
Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.