Online Text Sermon - The Name JESUS, Matthew ch.1 v.21
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Name JESUS|
|Text||Matthew ch.1 v.21 |
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"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1, 21).
These words are taken from the first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, as you see. This is the first chapter of the New Testament. The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament which talks about God's creation and what happened from that time onwards; and then the New Testament which refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the setting up of the church in this world - not only amongst the Jews but amongst all the nations. I draw attention to the first sixteen verses.
THE FAMILY TREE
You may want to ask why all these names are here. It is because these are the names of the people who make up the family tree of Jesus Christ. We have His foster father, Joseph; and then we have His grandfather and great-grandfather. And so on, all the way back to many centuries before: all the way back indeed to Abraham whose name is mentioned in the first and second verses of this very chapter. These, as names, are important for this reason - they prove to us the faithfulness of God. God had promised, two thousand years before Christ came, that out of Him and from His seed would there come one in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That was God's promise to Abraham two thousand years before it happened. In this chapter, we see that very promise coming true. Here He is! Here is that Saviour! God's word to Abraham all those many years ago had come absolutely true. My friends, it reminds us that all God's words are going to come true. Every promise and every threatening that God makes will certainly come true. Those who fear God and serve Him will certainly be blessed and those who reject God and hate Him will certainly, in the end, perish and be cursed. This is the great lesson that comes to us from all these names - the truthfulness of God, the faithfulness of God, that every word that He speaks will certainly come to pass.
One thing further before I look at my text and that is to show you how humble Jesus Christ was and how low He came. I can't dwell in detail on these names in the list here in the first sixteen verses, but amongst them you will see names like, Rahab the harlot in the book of Joshua and Ruth the Moabitess who was a pagan by birth. We see here the names of some of the kings and occasionally they were very wicked men, like Manasseh. All of these men and women contributed if you like, to the family tree of Christ. Their blood was in His veins you could almost say, although that is not strictly true insofar as Joseph was not the physical father of Christ, but speaking at least by a poetical phrase. At any rate, all of these ancestors of Christ were sinners, every one; and yet our Lord was not ashamed to be born into such a family. He does not shun sinners. Jesus Christ came into the world to bless sinners. It is when we realise we are sinners - that's the first step to heaven. You haven't even got your foot on the ladder to heaven until, my friends, you realise that in the sight of God you are a great sinner - as am I and as are we all, and so are these people whose names are here. What a mercy then that Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago in Bethlehem.
EVERYTHING PLANNED BY GOD
Let's look then more particularly at my text in verse twenty-one. "...she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (text). The first point I wish to make to you is this, would you notice here that Jesus came according to God's wise and eternal plan. Everything here was planned and worked out by God. For one thing, for instance, the right time was appointed by God: He came not a day too soon nor a day too late. In the fullness of time, says the Bible, God sent forth His Son; made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem us from the curse of the law. This was the golden moment of history that God had ordained and appointed from times eternal, to send His Son into this world to redeem and save us.
Isn't it interesting, do you notice in verse seventeen: all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations? Just look at that! God was measuring everything with a perfect measuring rod. Fourteen generations from Abraham to David; fourteen generations from David to the captivity, in 586 B.C.; fourteen generations from then on to Christ. Everything was being perfectly worked out. The plan, my friend - the plan, the purpose, the scheme of redemption in the mind of God and everything working out according to that plan. The people whose names are mentioned here did not in every case think like that. Like you and me, life seemed to them in their generation to be rather haphazard. There were problems of marriage, the problems of children, the problems of work and the problems of the nation: famine, pestilences, earthquakes, and invasions from the Philistines and from other nations. They had their lives to live and their problems to face as people have today: hunger, poverty, difficulties, our own shortcomings and all these relationships that make life so complex. My meaning is this: through it all, and over it all and in it all, the great God was bringing about infallibly and certainly and assuredly, His purpose to pass. When the moment came - when the clock of eternity struck, you could say - into the world came Christ.
EVERYTHING PERFECTED BY GOD
Then let me show you: He came in a most perfect way. You get this in verse eighteen. Notice this verse. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise (or in this way, you could say): When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (verse 18). In other words, the birth of Jesus was a miracle. Everybody knows that there has to be a father and a mother before a child can be born but this was the one exception. There was no earthly father to Jesus Christ. We can put it together neatly like this - Christ as to His human nature had no father, and as to His divine nature He had no mother. Jesus Christ according to the teaching of the Bible is both God and man in two natures, one Person forever. He took our human nature in order to suffer and die for us. You see why He had to be born of the virgin. A virgin as we know is a young woman who has not known a man, and that was Mary's condition. She was engaged to be married but as yet they had not come together as man and wife. It was when she was still a virgin Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of God. It was a miracle.
You may ask why it was done like that. I must explain. My friend, if you have never thought about it and understood it I'll give you the reason: He had to be born in this way because, had Jesus Christ been born of two earthly parents as you and I are, He would have had sin. Sin would have been transmitted from one generation to another as it is with us. It doesn't matter how sweet and nice the little baby boy or girl may be looking at them in the pram, they've got the seed of sin and death within them. I hope we all understand that. There is no such thing as an innocent child, speaking strictly and correctly. But our Lord Jesus Christ had to be sinless: pure, perfect and holy, without any defilement. He had to be. If He had had sin, He could not be the Saviour. He had to be perfect and so there had to be this extraordinary way of bringing Him into the world, or His human nature into the world, and we call it the virgin birth. It was a miracle and we must never cease to wonder at it.
Evidently, what happened is this. As the child was growing in the mother's womb the Holy Spirit Himself was always shadowing the development of this little tiny foetus which was joined already to the Son of God. As the foetus grew in the mother's womb the Holy Spirit was purifying it in such a way that the nature and physical substance of Mary His mother, was purified of all her sins. That which was born of Mary then was the Son of God; human nature joined to the Eternal, Everlasting God the Son. I don't pretend to understand these things: nobody can understand them - no mind is capable of understanding them. How can God become man? We do not know but we believe it is written in the Scriptures of truth that this is the fact of the matter and it had to be done in this way.
That raises a question which is worth my spending a moment on. Was Mary a virgin forever after that? That is to say, did her husband always keep at a distance from her? We often hear people talk of the virgin Mary as though she was a virgin for ever, well, I want to draw your attention to verse twenty five - very important in this connection. He knew her not, that's Joseph her husband, "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name JESUS" (verse 25). Would you notice that little word 'till'. That means to say that they had no relations one to another until this child was born. The word 'till' means that when the child was born, of course they assumed normal human relations within marriage. Marriage is that ordinance of God whereby one man to one woman becomes one flesh, and there are things permissible within that relationship that are not permissible outside of it. They were normally man and wife, and no doubt, they resumed normal relations as man and wife once the child was born. We need not scruple to say that she was not a virgin after the birth of Christ. It is a kind of superstition that has grown up and has led to many other superstitions attaching to it.
THE NAME GIVEN BY GOD
Another thing, verse twenty-one: notice what is said about His name; "thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (verse 21) - the name Jesus means saviour. The reason why He has that name is because He is come into the world to do one thing more than every other. Our Lord is a miracle worker. He was an example of perfection. He was the greatest teacher who ever lived. He was a reformer. He was a psychologist if you like. He was a preacher. He was everything good, but these were subordinate to His great work which was to save our souls; that's why He came. We are lost sinners - sinners in the hand of an angry God. We must soon all die. The great question is then, who will save us from death and the grave? The answer is, He did! He came. That's why He came: "he shall save his people from their sins" (text). I wonder if you have looked at Jesus Christ in that light, my friends tonight - whether you have realised that was the purpose of His coming.
Jesus did many wonderful things, even raising the dead, and you don't get many more wonderful things than that, do you? He raised the dead before the eyes of men and women who were witnesses, but that wasn't the main reason why He came. He didn't come to astonish men with His great power. He could still the storm at a word and say to the wind and to the wave, "peace be still", and the great calm ensued. But He didn't come to astonish men with wonders like that. Let me give you one example. There was an occasion in the ministry of Christ when He was teaching inside a house with a flat roof. Four men were with a sick friend who was paralysed. They carried him on a sort of stretcher. You may remember the incident. They couldn't get in to the door of the house because it was crowded with people listening to Jesus' preaching inside. So, they went up the steps on the outside - on to the flat roof - and proceeded to take up the tiles. They lowered down this stretcher or bed in front of Jesus Christ, at His feet, in this room.
When a sensation occurs like that, every sermon has to be interrupted; that's what happened. The sermon was interrupted and all the people marvelled at this bed coming through the roof of the house where they were watching and listening. Now these four men brought this man, obviously, to be healed. They had faith to believe that Jesus could be the healer of this man, but you watch, our Lord didn't immediately say to him 'take up your bed and walk'; He did say that later, but that wasn't the first thing our Lord said. What did Jesus Christ say? "Thy sins be forgiven thee" (Mark 2, 9). Your sins are forgiven, He said. Why did He say that rather than say the obvious, which was 'your muscles are now better and you can get up and walk; carry your bed with you as you go'? The answer is because He didn't come first of all to be a healer; He came first of all to be saviour of our souls. He came to wash our souls from sin and guilt by His blood shed on the cross at the end of His ministry. Oh dear friend, that is the great purpose of Christ's coming. It doesn't matter how many nice thoughts you have about Christ; you may be well disposed towards Him, you may say He's my hero: He's my teacher, He's my reformer, He's my miracle worker, this wonderful man. I say you do nothing for your own soul until you believe in Him as your Saviour. Isn't that the name given to Him here? "Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (text). The number one problem in everybody's life is sin and you don't get many people telling you that do you? You don't get that in the glossy magazines that are being sold so prolifically in our shops on the high street, nor in the newspapers, nor I'm afraid over the radio and television - they are not telling people this. They are showing you perhaps, gorgeous cathedrals and ministers in long vestments wearing strange hats doing all these bowings and scrapings, but that is not why Jesus came. He came to save our souls by His blood shed on the cross! That's why He gets this name. "Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (text).
WHAT IS A SINNER?
Let me open out a little bit. What's involved having Him saving us from our sins? Well, four things, on this occasion. More than that of course, but four will do tonight. The first thing is this - He came to save us from the guilt of our sin. Now it may be that there are people present, and they have only really a hazy idea as to what sin is; it may be you think that sin is committing a crime like murder, or theft, or terrorism. You say that these people are sinners but I've never done anything like that. I never murdered anyone, I never stole anything, I've never been a terrorist - never planted a bomb in anybody's aeroplane; I'm not a sinner. Let me explain what a sinner is. A sinner is someone who breaks the Ten Commandments in thought, or word, or deed. The Ten Commandments go like this. God has said, "Thou shall have no other God's before me" (Exodus 20, 3). I ask you my friend, have you put God first in your life? If you haven't, every day of your life, if you ever put yourself before God, or somebody else, or something else before God, then you are an idolater - you've broken that first Commandment. The second Commandment goes like this, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath...Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (Exodus 20, 4-5). If you and I have had any false ideas of God and imagined thoughts about God, which are not according to His truth and reality and being, then we are guilty of idolatry and superstition. The third one goes like this, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20, 7). That is to say we must never use the name of God carelessly. Do you know what I mean by that? It is even done on the radio, commonly. What do you do when you're listening to the radio and you hear somebody on the radio blaspheme God? Well I'll tell you what I do, I get hold of the knob and I switch it off. It doesn't matter who it is, switch it off. If they can't respect the name of God they don't deserve a hearing. Disgrace to them, shame on them, if they can't treat the name of God with respect and decency then let them be silent. They don't deserve to be listened to.
Pausing at that moment let me tell you a lovely story that I was listening to on a tape-recorded sermon this afternoon. Not a sermon so much as a talk given by a Christian lady in America. A lovely story I thought. This Christian lady was talking, not in a pulpit because we don't have ladies in pulpits; she was talking to some other ladies in a ladies meeting in America and this was the story she was telling. I was very touched by it and it has to do with taking God's name in vain. She said she and another lady from the church were told about a man in hospital who was sick and dying. She was asked if she would visit this man who was sick and dying. So the two ladies went along with their Bibles to this little room, a ward we'd call it, in the hospital in America. You've got the picture. As she went in and opened the door she could hear this man in the bed cursing and swearing, and he kept on saying Jesus Christ this, Jesus Christ that, and Jesus Christ the other - terrible, terrible language. She didn't know what to do. She thought to herself, how on earth can I say something to help this man; He's blaspheming before I've got my mouth open? So she went up to him and she said this, "Oh", she said, "I see that you know my Lord". He looked at her and he went pale. "What do you mean", he said? She said, "I can hear that you are forever mentioning the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Isn't that nice," she said, "Oh sweet Lord, and you're mentioning His name"? He got paler and paler until eventually he began to cry. "My mother was a Christian, my mother was a Christian", he said, "and she taught me when I was a little boy and I've lived a wicked life. Now I'm dying and at the end of my life. My mother was a good, good woman and she's gone to heaven. I'll never see her again", he said. Well he began to pour out his heart to these ladies, confessing his foolishness, his blindness, his unbelief, his wicked life, his wicked way. And of course the door was opened to the ladies to give him the best advice in the world. "Oh", they said, "dear friend, no need to worry about seeing your mother again. You can certainly see her again. All you need to do my dear is just ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you all those wicked sins". And you know, he believed. He believed there and then. He got the joy of heaven in his heart. He believed - dying man that he was. All these years of foolishness and irreligion and unbelief, taking the Lord's name in vain.
I give you these examples because it shows you that people blaspheme God and they don't know what they're doing. They don't realise it's a great sin to take God's name in vain and all the other Commandments: thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, and all the others; they're all there. Now sin means breaking them and you can break the Ten Commandments in your own thoughts without anyone seeing or hearing a thing. Let me give you an example. It's possible for a young person, or indeed an older person, to lie in bed at night and you can have the most terrible thoughts and imagine you are doing the most wicked things. People imagine that it's not hurting anybody else, so I can just enjoy these thoughts but do you realise that God sees our thoughts? Maybe you never thought of that - God can see our thoughts just as though you had a wide screen and all the pictures were being thrown on to the screen. God can read your mind absolutely. He sees those filthy thoughts perhaps, or whatever they are. We can sin with our minds and imaginations without ever speaking a single word - nobody knows about it. Our husbands and wives may never know about it, our children may never know, our parents may never know; we may never tell anybody, it's just a secret we have in our own minds - these terrible thoughts. There are plenty of people like that. But do you realise it's an awful sin to have wicked thoughts.
Well, my friends, Jesus came to wash away these filthy thoughts and filthy lives that we all have, every one of us. He came to save us from sin and from the devil. That's the next thing, from the devil. You see we're all under the power of the devil. Why do people live such terrible lives? They're under the power of the devil. We're hearing just now about those awful people who are the 'moors' murderers'. Now is not the time to go in to detail about the moors' murders but perhaps you remember in the nineteen sixty's there was a man and a woman who took these young children to a quiet moor land in Yorkshire and they killed them with torture we understand. We don't know the details. They buried them in different places. That's the human heart. How can people do that to children? It's happening every day of life. How can people behave like that? The answer is, because by nature the devil has power over our wicked hearts. Jesus came to save us from the power of the devil. He can deliver us from the devil's power.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD
The third thing we notice here is this; He came to save us out of this evil world. Do you realise that God calls this world an evil world - evil it is indeed. The way people live is evil; the way they talk is evil. Even in our schools now there is tremendous wickedness - tremendous evil. Things undreamed of are being talked about in schools today, not to say in the wider society. You know there are people who spend their time trying to destroy the Internet. That's to say they try night and day to find a clever way of smashing everybody's word processors all over the world. They have these things called 'viruses' and somehow they get them in to the system and it blots out information wholesale all over the world. Can you imagine people deliberately trying to smash this and smash that? Why are people like that? The answer is, it's the world, the spirit of the world. It's the world that crucified Jesus Christ; it's the world that's going to be judged in the end. Yet, my dear friends, here's the good news. Into such a world, Jesus came to save us from our sins.
SAVED FROM WHAT?
The fourth thing I have here is this; He came to save us from hell. You say I don't like talking about hell - ah, but we must. Hell is a real place; God tells us that. He speaks of heaven and of hell. They're both real places after death and the terrible thing is there's no getting out of hell. Once you're there there's no way back - no return tickets. If you travel from here to Australia or somewhere you can get a return ticket. If you don't like it there you can turn round and come back. Or if you go to Thailand or China or America or anywhere else, if you don't like it then you can take your return journey back home to London or wherever. However, if you go to hell there's no return ticket. Like it or lump it, you're there. What does our blessed Jesus tell us about hell? It's terrible information: eternal torment in fire forever, under the curse of God, darkness forever, eternal suffering, the worm never dies, the fire never goes out. There are millions of others like yourselves in this terrible condition - weeping, wailing, pain, gnashing of teeth. Why, why you say, does God put people there? The answer is, because we're wicked sinners. I deserve to go right there, so do you! We all deserve it. Well, you say, why does God spare anybody? Why don't we all go there? The answer is, because of the unspeakable kindness of God. He has sent His Son into the world. There is only one way to escape hell and that is by Christ. You shall call His name JESUS because He will save His people from their sins. There's the comfort for God's people; He will save them. Who are His people? His people are those who believe in Him, who trust in Him. My very dear friend, I'm not sure how often you and I will see one another's faces; we may be strangers to one another, we may never meet again until the Judgement Day, I don't know. But may I remind you, you whoever you are listening here tonight, like me and like the rest of us most surely, most certainly, in the day of death you must either go to heaven or to hell. It's to a large extent up to you. All you need to do to go to heaven is trust your soul to Christ. He came into the world to save sinners. Perhaps you're a Christian and you say it's so hard getting anyone to believe this message - don't tell me, don't I know it. I have been preaching now for some twenty-seven or twenty-eight years; I know how hard it is to get anyone to believe the truth concerning Christ. But I would say this dear friends, never give up.
NEVER GIVE UP
I'm going to end with two little stories on this occasion. I'm aware that there are young people and children here as well. I want you to be all part of what we are talking about. My first story concerns a dear lady in the Highlands, years ago. She had a husband who was not a Christian and he was a terrible drunkard. He would drink every night until he was stupid, and then he would come home and then he would be difficult to live with. Imagine living with a man like that? Well many, many women have that problem. All around us in this world - in this very city - many, many have very difficult husbands, or wives, or both. This particular lady was a Christian and her husband was a drunkard. One night after drinking for years he came back as usual, sat down, and as usual, she had a beautiful fire burning and she had a bowl of water to wash his feet. She put him in a comfortable armchair beside the warm fire. She gave him his supper on a tray and he enjoyed it. She washed his feet and made him comfortable. She had done it many times but on this particular evening he said to her, "My dear," he said, "why are you so good to me. I'm a rotten worthless husband, why are you so kind to me?" She now had her golden moment. This is what she was waiting for. She said, "My dear, I do this for you for love of Jesus Christ," she said. "Because if this is your idea of heaven it won't last. I want to make your little bit of life as happy as I can before it ends in hell." Oh what a word. My friends never give up trying to win people for Christ. Go on praying for them, go on witnessing kindly to them, if not by words at least by deeds. Everyone understands the language of love and if they won't listen to the word of a preacher in a pulpit like this, they might listen and will listen to the language of love. Go on, never be despairing, because you never know the moment when Jesus Christ may come into their lives and wash away their sins and make them new men and women in Christ.
That brings me then finally to the last story I have tonight. He was a great missionary called Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor was one of the greatest missionaries who ever lived. He was a young doctor in England and he went to China where he did wonderful work for God. I hope you all know that in China now there are millions and millions of Christians. It's not least owing to the faithful witness of that dear, great man of God, Dr. James Hudson Taylor. Before he went to China, he was in Hull. As a young doctor as he then was, he used to go around different homes and houses attending to the sick as all doctors do. In one of these houses, there was a very sick man who was a wicked sinner who had no time for God. Dr Hudson Taylor used to do this. He would come in and the man would be lying in his bed. Doctor Taylor would do the medical things he had to do. He did these kind things to him - putting various bandages on, washing him, attending to him and giving him medicine. Every time when he had finished the medical side of his work, Doctor Taylor would say to this man, "Now, he said, "my dear friend, I want to just say a few words to you about Jesus Christ. That He came into the world to save sinners and He will save you if you will believe in Him." And every time, this man would turn his face to the wall - he wouldn't listen. He set his face as though it was made of cement: hard, hard expression against the Gospel.
Doctor Taylor came regularly, week after week or month after month, and every time when he had done his medical work he would attend to this man and then he would say, "Now, just a little word about my Lord Jesus Christ who died for sinners." The man would turn his face away - he wouldn't listen. One day when Doctor Taylor came, in his heart of hearts he said something that we all at times feel, he said to himself, "What's the use; a waste of breath?" On this particular day he gave him the medicine, tended to his body, put his instruments into his case without a word, lifted his bag and walked towards the door. The man turned to him. He said, "Are you not going to say something to me?" He was listening! Doctor Taylor came running back with tears in his eyes. "Man", he said, "I must tell you, Christ came to save your soul." He was now listening. Never give up. You never know the moment when these words of my text might become true, and Jesus Christ indeed, in the souls and lives of sinners, may become their Saviour and Lord forever. God grant it may be true of you.
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