Matthew 1:21 NIV – “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.”
Salvation has a name and that name is Jesus. Through that name, our sins are forgiven and we are granted access to the very Throne of God. We are made whole, complete, and perfected in Christ. Through the name of Jesus, we have been transformed and our identity is now in Christ Alone!
Thus, Christmas is one of the most sacred of all Christian Holy Days. It is during this precious and unique season that we commemorate that the Promise of the Father, the Hope of Humanity, the Creator of the Universe, the King of the Ages; set foot on the stage of Human history. The MIGHTY HAND OF GOD that holds entire galaxies in place, and orders the universe…became Human and brought salvation near to each one of us. Now, today, at this moment, Salvation can be touched because Jesus can be touched!
The mighty, merciful, glorious, and…Saving message of Christmas is that God Came Near! He did not just come near to Joseph and Mary; not just near to the Magi and shepherds; not just near to the Twelve Apostles; not just to Kings and Governors, priests and scribes. Oh Beloved, God came near to all of us!
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV - “For unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given.”
Revelation 3:12 NIV - Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
God The Father gave Salvation a name and that name is Jesus. But not only did the Father announce the name, He commanded that Joseph would identify with the baby that Mary bore.
Matthew 1:21 NIV – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus...”
“She” and “You” – Not only is God identifying with this baby, but He is requiring that Joseph do so, as well…emotionally and legally. SHE will give birth, but YOU are to give him the name. Just as Zechariah had to name John the Baptist, so too, Joseph had to identify Jesus as his child, and forever be identified WITH Jesus.
The naming of a child is both Formational and Transformational. Formationally, it states to whom the child belongs. By naming a child, the Father was acknowledging the baby as his, committing himself to the child's protection and provision. Transformationally, when a father adopted a child, he was giving his own name to the child and identifying the name by which the child would be identified.
We do not “name” ourselves, someone else does that. In so doing, we are identified as belonging to them and given the very first framework for self-identification. Our name, therefore, also serves to identify us to others. It is one of the first things we communicate to total strangers: “Hi, my name is…” The identity of Jesus, his introduction, his self-identity, the manner in which he makes himself known to a world that had been estranged from Him was, in essence, “Hi, my name is Salvation!”
Matthew 1:21 NIV – “…Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
God the Son was FORMED as the Son of God in the womb of Mary by the “power of the Most High (Luke 1:35).” Later during His earthly ministry, this same Son of God was TRANSFIGURED (in a very real way TRANSFORMED) before his disciples and at that very moment, the Father then speaks…
Luke 9:35 NIV – A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Therefore, our Heavenly Father claims the Christ as His own, identifies His Person, and states for all time and eternity, the Mission of Jesus: He will save! As Christians, Christ has claimed us as His own. He has given to us a new identity in Him; and defined the mission of our Lives: proclaiming the Good News of Salvation to everyone, because Salvation has a Name.
Romans 10:13 NIV - For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
One of the beauties of the Gospel accounts is that they give us some “back-story” surrounding the birth of our Savior. Luke, for instance, tells us about Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist; as well as the powerful revelation that Mary received from the Angel Gabriel. Matthew, on the other hand, allows us to gain insight into the encounter that Joseph had with an Angelic visitor in a dream; and the very important message that God had for him.
Matthew 1:21 NIV – “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.”
We are in the midst of the Christmas Holiday season. This entire season, both its blessing and controversy, is based upon the name that is in the middle of the Celebration: The Christ. Further, the name of JESUS…This name…THE NAME…was so important that the Angel of the Lord made sure that Joseph got it right. God sent His Messenger to assure that this baby boy, Mary’s son, was given THE NAME…JESUS! As Dr. Jack Hayford points out, throughout the Scriptures, a name is very important…
“In the Bible a name is much more than an identifier, as it tends to be in our culture. Personal names (and even place names) were formed from words that had their own meaning...The people of the Bible…believed there was a vital connection between the name and the person it identified, for a name somehow represented the nature of the person.
This means that the naming of a baby was very important in the Bible. In choosing a name, the parents could reflect the circumstances of the child’s birth, their own feelings, their gratitude to God, their hopes and prayers for the child, and their commitment of the child to God.” --Dr. Jack Hayford
For example, the name “Isaac” reflected the “laughter” at the birth of a son to an elderly couple (Genesis 21:6). Esau was named “hairy” because of his appearance (Genesis 25:25-26). Jacob was named “supplanter” because he grasped his twin brother’s heel at birth (Genesis 25:25-26). Moses received his name because he was “drawn out” of the water (Exodus 2:10). Both Isaiah and Hosea were instructed to give their children particular names because of the circumstances surrounding the nation at the time their children were born, and the manner in which God would deal with Israel.
Therefore, when the Messiah was finally given, His Heavenly Father also was reflecting on all that this child meant to all of Creation. In giving this name to this Child…THE NAME to THE CHILD… God was making a Christmas declaration that not only would travel through the corridors of time, but transcend it, because He gave Salvation a Name.
Romans 10:13 NIV - For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
My Dear Friends and Precious Family of God, please allow me to be among the first to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! I love this wonderful greeting. When we say, “Merry Christmas,” we are announcing “Good News,” a joyous, happy, wonderful, and cheerful celebration is taking place: Christ is Born! Salvation Has Arrived! God has intended Good Will for all people, in all places, at all times. It is a glorious Celebration of our wonderful Savior!
Therefore, please do not let anyone take from you the great privilege of saying, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Say it in every store you frequent. Share this good news with every friend you have, and if they tell you that they are not Christians or that they do not celebrate Christmas; tell them that it's okay, you are simply sharing the joy of your celebration! Christmas is YOUR Holiday. J
I have a friend who is very dear to me, and is a Theist at best, and is quite agnostic in practice. When he is struggling with a problem or an issue, I try to help him in whatever way I can, and likewise he tries to help me. Now, I never hide from him the fact that I am praying for him. In truth, because he is my friend and he knows that I love him, he recognizes that one of the most precious things I can give him, is to take the time to pray for him. It is my way of utilizing all of my resources to assist my friend.
Likewise Beloved, there are those in this world who just want to fight us for being Christians or do away with Christ from the public square altogether. We certainly must not through our silence allow this to take place. Our faith is a living faith, it is not a historical relic and our churches are not museums. So, celebrate the BIRTH of the RISEN Christ, for not only is this a Living Hope, we are rejoicing over a Living God! I suspect that if you share our celebration with authentic love, there are far more who will appreciate your celebration than there are those who resent it.
To that end, we have a lot of celebrating going on…
· WORKERS CHRISTMAS DINNER is tonight at 6:30 PM.
Dr. Tobey Montgomery