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
One can't ponder Christmas without looking ahead to Easter. In the very first chapter of Matthew, the angel tells Joseph what he is to name this child he will raise; in His name we learn His mission.
Jesus came to save His people from their sins.
What does this mean for our celebration of Christmas? For me, this year, it's meant some reflection on waiting. There's a lot of waiting with God. He foretold Jesus' coming through the pages of the Old Testament, hundreds (thousands?) of years of waiting. Another several hundred years passed between the Old Testament prophesies and the beginning of the gospels. Jesus is born and waits another thirty years or so to begin His ministry. And finally, a few years later, He hangs on the cross, taking on the sin of the world, drinking the cup of God's wrath until ... it is finished.
Then, gloriously, He rises again on the third day, spends a little more time with His people, and returns to the Father. After a short time, the promised Holy Spirit comes to His people, and continues to dwell in those who put their faith in the saving power of Jesus name and person.
You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.
Now we find ourselves in the period of history where we await His second coming, the full restoration of God's rule when all things will be made new and the dwelling place of God will again be with man. Oh, Lord, haste the day!
Yet God has us waiting. What do we do with all this waiting?!
I Peter 3:8-9 says this But do not forget this one thing, dear friends; With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Oh boy, the times I've told God the He's moving too slowly! You too?
But who am I to tell the God of the Universe, the blessed Savior of my soul and Lord of my life, that He's not doing things right?
God doesn't see time as we do, and it's unlikely that we'll see things His way until we're with Him. In the meantime, this can beautifully influence our celebration of Christmas (and Easter.) Let's praise this God, the very God who made the time and space in which we live, and designed it so wonderfully and carefully! Let us trust Him to know the right time and places to bring His purposes to pass, as He did with the manger and Calvary! Let's repent of our sins and our unbelief and live lives free of condemnation, because Jesus saved His people from their sin! Let us tell the story and extend the invitation, getting into our hearts the desire of the Father that none should perish but all come to repentance!
As you celebrate Christmas this year, may God assure you that He is the great keeper of promises and that the waiting is good, accomplishing His purposes. May the name of Jesus be a word of praise on your lips as you celebrate the birth of the Light of the world who came to save His people from their sins.