Call his name “Jesus”, Mary and Joseph were told, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Sin was the problem Jesus came to solve, and a huge problem it has proved to be.
Ever since Adam broke God’s law mankind has suffered the fatal consequences. Everyone has died, sooner or later, and there once seemed no way out. God had passed a Law that sin meant death and everybody sinned, so everybody died. The situation was hopeless.
So God came to the rescue just as the prophets said He would. … one prophet foretold …:
“He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his own arm brought salvation for him; and his own righteousness, it sustained him” (Isaiah 59:16).
God’s Own Son
Read through the whole of Isaiah and you will discover a great deal about the way that Jesus was to be born and the work he would come to do. Here’s just a sample:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel”
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will perform this” (9:6,7);
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:3-6).
Saviour and King
We have looked at just three passages but already we can see why Jesus is so special. He would be born of the virgin Mary, and God would be his Father (Luke 1:34,35). This has never happened before or since, that God caused a son to be born on earth, one who was made of a woman (Galatians 4:4), who was constituted just like us (Hebrews 2:14), tempted just like us (4:15), mortal just like us (5:7), but who never once sinned (1 Peter 2:22).
Thus it was that Jesus could voluntarily lay down his life for our sakes as a sacrifice for sin, just as Isaiah had predicted, to enable us to be forgiven, healed and have “peace with God” (Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:1). No wonder God highly exalted His Son and gave him “a name above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
Isaiah describes the titles that God conferred upon the Lord Jesus – “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6). They do not signify, as some people wrongly think, that Jesus was one and the same as his heavenly Father. He was always most careful to make it clear that he and his Father were distinct and different, as are any father and son (see, for example, John 10:29; 14:28). But they do express the wonderful position that Jesus now possesses in heaven, where he sits in glory at his Father’s right hand.
Peace with God
By his sinless death Jesus made it possible for us to be forgiven. Although tempted like us, he overcame where Adam had failed. Then he died, as Adam had also, but not now through failure. Jesus submitted completely to his Father’s will and his death was an act of perfect obedience:
“Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
Jesus took our sin upon himself and endured the punishment we deserve – death and separation from God. He thus made it possible for us to receive his righteousness and be reconciled to God.
“For he (God) made him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So Jesus made peace with God through the blood of the cross (Ephesians 2:14) and he will come again to reign on earth when he will establish political peace, and rule for God on David’s ancient throne in Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:26-33).
Fought and Won
There are many battles that lie ahead before the world will become subject to God and His King – the Lord Jesus Christ. But the greatest has already been fought and won. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he won the battle against sin. Sin overreached itself on the cross. Man’s hideous injustice that crucified Jesus became the means that opened the way for man to become free.
Sin’s masterpiece of shame and hate became God’s masterpiece of mercy and forgiveness. Through the death of Jesus upon the cross, sin itself was crucified for those who believe. Jesus died and rose again. He proved the truth of all God’s promises to man.
We have already seen that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Jesus had not sinned, yet he had died. Such is the righteousness of God, Jesus could not remain dead. So God raised him up, “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it” (Acts 2:24). He raised him to glory and honour at His right hand so that he can now intercede for all those who want to come to God through him.
Be assured that the battle against Sin has been fought and won for all those who want to belong to Jesus Christ. We do that by belief and baptism – believers’ baptism, when we affirm that we believe in Jesus and pledge to live with him, and for him, to the glory of God.
The imminent return of Jesus to earth means for the believer that death isn’t a vast ending of nothingness and grief. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus his Coming will be a great and glad reunion of joy and laughter. Although we are sorrowful and grieve in the face of death, we can have an unmistakable and unshakable hope in the life to come. Make it your sure foundation for a better life. There is nothing better!