The other day, I started reading the book of Matthew, and as I typically do while reading, I had some thoughts come to mind that I wrote down to come back to and think on later. And it didn’t take long in Matthew for one of these thoughts to come to me.
The book of Matthew starts with the genealogy of Christ, and the situation surrounding His birth. Upon finding out that his fiancé, Mary, was pregnant before marriage, a man named Joseph, is trying to decide how to handle the situation.
“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” — Matthew 1:20-23
To Israel, long before the time of Joseph and Mary, the prophecy had been given that a Messiah would come who would be both a King in the line of David and a Prophet like Moses. And even in Isaiah 7:14 we find the passage the angel quoted about His name being ‘Immanuel’ signifying that this Messiah would somehow be God in the flesh. The Jews knew all of that, and it is why they had many expectations of what Jesus was supposed to be like and how He would live. But the thing that sticks out to me here, though, is that the angel doesn’t come and tell Joseph that this Son would be the King of the Jews or a great prophet.
Instead, the angel tells Joseph to name the child Jesus, which translates as “Jehovah is Salvation,” because the life mission of this child is that “He will save His people from their sins.”
Now, of course anyone familiar with the Christian story knows that Jesus came to be the Savior of the world. Even those who barely know anything about Christianity have probably heard John 3:16 at some point. Have you ever considered this, though, that even Jesus name – His born identity – is wrapped up in this one mission.
What interests me about this, however, is not that Jesus identity is wrapped up in the mission of saving people from their sins. It is that as believers, our identity is wrapped up in His identity, which was wrapped up in the mission. Meaning that our identity, too, is wrapped up in the salvation of the world.
What I mean by this is that when we are born again by grace through faith in Christ, the Bible makes it clear that we are being transformed into the image of Christ – the image of the Savior. This means that since Christ’s mission in life, above all else, was to save people from sin, then our new-found mission now that we are in Christ is the same as His. We are, above all, to be heralds of the Gospel — the ‘Good News’ that Jesus made a way for humanity to be saved.
Another way to say this is that our own salvation cannot be separated from the salvation of the world. They are inextricably linked. Let me give you some biblical evidence of this:
- “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” –1 John 2:2
- “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10
- “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” –2 Corinthians 5:18
In each one of these scriptures, the writers jump straight from our salvation to the salvation of others. We are saved and then we help others find salvation. That is the biblical pattern.
Here’s what that means: your job, school, hobbies, friends, family, etc., etc., are given to you by God to be stewarded for the salvation of the lost world. Your God-given identity is found in Christ and because of that your life is to be “the aroma of Christ” to the world, and it is now a part of who we are that, “as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17) That means in word and deed, it’s our mission.
We live Christ in the world, and we speak Christ to the world. Salvation leads to salvation, and the mission that Christ set in motion continues on.
So let me ask you this. When was the last time you let someone else know that God has come (“Immanuel”) to save His people from their sins (“Jesus”), and that they too can find freedom in Him?