Jesus will Save His People

December 8, 2013    Matthew 1:18 – 25      Waiting for Forgiveness 

 

    How did the people of Jesus day deal with their sin?  

    How do you think they felt about that?   Do you think they thought there must be a better way?   They must have been aware of Isaiah 53 which says.   He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.   Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.     But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.    We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 

    Skit  Walking to the temple with my lamb for sacrifice and being heckled by Deacon Bill.   

     How long did they wait for something new?   Did they wait since the time of Moses?    

     Tell my experience of reconciliation with a dear brother this past week.    

     People often ask and wonder why do we struggle in this life.   We struggle with evil and with sin.   People ask why God allows evil.  If there is a good God why is there sin and evil?   I want to spend a couple of minutes in what we call apologetics this morning.   Norm Geisler shares, the first public debate I ever had with an atheist.  He brought the question up, as they usually do: “If there is a good God, then why does He allow all the evil and injustice in this world?” Having read C. S. Lewis, I was prepared to respond: “If you are claiming there is injustice in the world, where do you get your moral standard of justice?   If there is an absolute moral law, then there must be an absolute moral Law-Giver.”   His reply was so frank and to the point that I hardly knew what to say.    He confessed, “I don’t have any absolute moral law by which I know there is evil in the world.  My judgment is simply based on my own benign moral feeling.”   In this fallen world that we are in we would do well to ask ourselves what kind of a world would this be without absolutes, without a moral law giver and what Christians call sin.  One of the movies recently was that there was a time frame that you could kill anyone you wanted and if done during that time frame you did not break the law.   

     C. S. Lewis’s response to this idea is worth pondering: “My argument [as an atheist] was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.   But how had I got this idea of just and unjust.   A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.  . . . Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own.   But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too …” The fact is that either the atheist’s argument presupposes God as the moral Law-Giver, or else the argument that God “allows” evil and injustice collapses.  In other words you cannot say that God allows evil and injustice unless you say God is a moral law giver.  

    Geisler continues by saying evil cries out for God rather than cry out against God, evil actually cries out for God in at least three ways.   Do you think that evil cries out for God??    First, as just observed, we have no way of knowing something is really evil unless there is a God who established the moral law by which we can judge it to be evil.   Second the only real help when someone is suffering comes from God.   To whom else shall we turn — He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).   When this life is fading, the only real comfort is the hope of eternal life.    We have peace in Jesus.  We have forgiveness in Jesus.   He is our healer.   He is our comfort.  As the apostle put it, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).  Comfort hope and real peace only come from God. 

       Third, the only realistic expectation that there will be an end of evil someday is that Christ has already defeated it. Hebrews declares of Christ that “he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).    The apostle John saw the completion of this process when he wrote, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).   Bye, bye sin and bye, bye pain, bye, bye sorrow because God is making all things new.  Since there is a God who is a moral law giver then man needs forgiveness.  We need a savior.  Hence it is the meaning of Christmas.  God made a way for us.  It was costly and it was not easy for God.   

     Matthew 1:21 and she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for it is He who will save His people from their sin.   Heaven gave specific instructions regarding this boy’s name.   He was to be named Jesus.   Names are important.   I can just mention some names and it creates feelings. We love to hear our name spoken.  We like to hear the name of our loved ones and we love the name of Jesus.      Names like former president Bush or President Obama.  The apostle Paul or Moses are important names as are Nero and Hitler.   This child was called Jesus or in the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua which means Jehovah or Yahweh will save.  He will save his people.  Other men had names that testified to God’s salvation.   The name Jesus not only testifies of God’s salvation but Jesus is God’s salvation.  The name of Jesus should evoke all kinds of feelings in the Christian.  The Christian feels love and worship at the hearing of Jesus name.  It stirs within us the feelings of gratitude.     

      He will save His people.   Have you ever thought about how many prayers that we pray that we could use the word save?   Lord save them from any possible accidents or trouble when they travel.   Lord save them from the financial trouble they are in.   Lord save them from this sickness or disease that they have.   Lord save them from any infection or surgical complications.  Do we need saving today?   Everyone needs to be saved from sin.   But do we need to be saved from other things?    We think of Jesus saving us from sins but from many other things also. 

     Did the people of Jesus day need saving?   What was life like for them?   Well they were ruled by Romans.  A foreign country controlled them.   They had to pay Roman taxes.   Life was tough for them.  They were also under the rule of the religious leaders.   You would think that would be a blessing for them but that was not true.   The leaders put all kinds of rules and restrictions on them.   Rules mean bondage or restrictions.   Rules are necessary but they can choke life out of a person or organization.   I had a supervisor once who every time some little mishap would happen would lay down the law.   It is tough to have laws for every possible problem or issue in life.   The Jewish leaders were big on laws.  

    In Matthew 23 we read then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.     So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.    They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  “Everything they do is done for people to see: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.   You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. 

      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!    You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.   You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.   “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!    You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.   Life was tough for these folks.  They needed a savior.   As we saw before forgiveness was not easy for them.   They needed new life and hope.   They needed a change so God did not send them more rules and laws.  God did not send to them riches and stuff.   God sent his son who would save them.   God came down and suffered and identified with man.  He took your load and my load and your sin and my sin.   

       I want to close with this story.  A small orphaned boy lived with his grandmother. One night their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to rescue the little boy asleep upstairs, perished in the smoke and flames. A crowd gathered around the burning house.   The boy’s cries for help were heard above the crackling of the blaze.   No one seemed to know what to do, for the front of the house was a mass of flames.   Suddenly a stranger rushed from the crowd and circled to the back where he spotted an iron pipe that reached an upstairs window. He disappeared for a minute, and then reappeared with the boy in his arms. Amid the cheers of the crowd, he climbed down the hot pipe as the boy hung around his neck.   Weeks later a public hearing was held in the town hall to determine in whose custody the boy would be placed.  Each person wanting the boy was allowed to speak briefly.   The first man said, "I have a big farm.   Everybody needs the out-of-doors." The second man told of the advantages he could provide. "I’m a teacher. I have a large library. He would get a good education." Others spoke. Finally the richest man in the community said, "I’m wealthy.  I could give the boy everything mentioned tonight: farm, education, and more, including money and travel.   I’d like him in my home."  

     The chairman asked, "Anyone else like to say a word?" From the backseat rose a stranger who had slipped in unnoticed.   As he walked toward the front, deep suffering showed on his face.  Reaching the front of the room, he stood directly in front of the little boy.  Slowly the stranger removed his hands from his pockets. A gasp went up from the crowd.  The little boy, whose eyes had been focused on the floor until now, looked up.  The man’s hands were terribly scarred.  Suddenly the boy emitted a cry of recognition.  Here was the man who had saved his life.   His hands were scarred from climbing up and down the hot pipe.  With a leap the boy threw himself around the stranger’s neck and held on for life.   The farmer rose and left and then the teacher and then the rich man.  Everyone departed, leaving the boy and his rescuer who had won him without a word.  Those marred hands spoke more effectively than any words.

     God got involved.   God did not sit on his hands in heaven wondering what to do.   God got his hands dirty and bloodied for us.   God suffered to save his people from their sins and a lot of other stuff.