A person’s title tells us about who the person is and what he/she does. Some titles are attached to names. In medical and academic circles the title of ‘doctor’ is used to indicate a person’s level of education. In military circles a person’s rank is indicated by the title of ‘captain,’ ‘sergeant,’ etc. In government ‘honorable,’ ‘senator,’ ‘president,’ etc. are used to indicate a person’s role in the government.
In modern times a title is sometimes attached to a person’s name. In ancient times the name, itself, conveyed information about the person. Therefore, names were very important.
Matthew, in his gospel, records the events of Jesus’ birth, which we celebrate at Christmas each year. Matthew records how Jesus’ mother, Mary was engaged to Joseph. When she was found to be pregnant, Joseph considered breaking off the engagement, but changed his mind during an encounter with an angel. That encounter is recorded in Matthew 1:18-24. The angel explained to Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful, but was still a virgin, pregnant through a miracle of the Holy Spirit. The angel also told Joseph to go ahead and marry his bride, and to name the child she would bear Jesus. Matthew explains that these events occurred to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. Isaiah called the child’s name Immanuel. These two names tell us two important tasks Jesus came to fulfill.
First, Jesus came to save us. The angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus. The name means ‘savior.’ The angel went on to explain that the child would save His people from their sins. The first task Jesus came to fulfill is to save us from our sins.
The remainder of the New Testament explains how Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and how He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven where He intercedes on behalf of believers at God’s right hand, and how He is coming back again one day to rule as King of Kings, and how all who turn from their sins and believe in Jesus are forgiven of their sins and granted everlasting life.
Although it was Jesus’ birthday, He didn’t come to receive gifts. He came to give gifts. The first gift is salvation. Have you received that gift?
The second task Jesus came to fulfill is, Jesus came to be with us. Matthew explained that the events of Jesus’ birth were a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. That prophecy gave Jesus another name, ‘Immanuel.’ Matthew translates that name for us. He tells us the name means “God is with us.” (v. 23) This name tells us that Jesus is God – an amazing declaration! The name also tells us that God wants to be with us – also amazing! God, the creator of the universe, chose to become a man, so that He could be with us. God wants to be your companion. Jesus’ second gift to us is His companionship, His friendship. Those who have received the gift of salvation have the awesome opportunity to commune with God in prayer at any time, to enter the throne room of heaven and address the King of the universe as a friend. Christian, how often do you spend time with God? He wants to be with you. Spend time with Him!
Christmas is a time of celebration. We give gifts to others to celebrate the gifts God has already given to us. As you celebrate Christmas, celebrate Jesus!