“For we were the purpose of His embodiment, and for our salvation, He so loved human beings as to come to be and appear in a human body.” -St. Athanasius of Alexandria
We have now full into the Christmas season. Though some people have wrongfully had their decorations and Christmas music playing since Halloween, there is little excuse for those who are now without them. My decoration is in full display in my bedroom, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that is now as beat up as the tree it was made to represent. And I have begun to fill my Spotify playlists with Advent songs.
Of all the songs of this Christmas/Advent season, my favorite is the old hymn Come Thou Long Expected Jesus*. The old Weslyan hymn opens with the lines:
"Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee."
Each time I sing these words I cannot help but think that ole Charles Wesley had the words from Matthew 1:21 filling his head and his heart. For at the end of this verse we read where an angel told Joseph, who would become the adoptive father of Jesus, who Jesus would be and what He was to do. “you shall call His name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
In the first chapter of the New Testament, we read the purpose of the Incarnation. The reason for Immanuel, God with us. Jesus came to save His people. This was the task He was given by the Father to do. This was the assignment that the Spirit empowered Him to fulfill.
Jesus came to save all of His people. And He came to save them from all of their sins.
For many of us in this season, this is something so easily forgotten. And for those who fight to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’** the implications of this often seem to be lost in the culture war being raged. For we often remember that Christ saved us from our sins in a way that resulted in salvation. Be He also saved us from our sins in such a way that we would continue in that salvation.
That is was is meant when we read that Christ would have us from all of our sins. If He only saved us from the ones before we became Christians that we would be hopeless. And it is not only from our own sins that He has come to save us but from the sins of others. It is through Christ that we need no longer fear sin for we know that our inheritance, already secured for us in heaven (Ep. 1:11), is that we can never be cast out from Christ (John 6:37).
So in this season when we forget the joy this season promises, and some of us shall forget more often and some less...but we will all forget, let us remember what Christ came to do. And let us also remember what that means.
The Father loves us just as much as He loves Jesus: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” - John 17:23
We are adopted by the Father into the family of God: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,’Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” -Galatians 4:6-7
There is nothing, in heaven or on earth, that can condemn us: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1
We are far from perfect now, but God is working in us: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6
We are sealed with the Holy Spirit who will lead, guide, and empower us: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” -Ephesians 1:13
We are promised trouble in this world, but we are promised that God will never leave us no matter what the trouble is: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 | “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20b
God Himself will comfort us: “ 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” -2 Corinthians 1:3-4a
I could continue with this list until the day of Christmas was upon us, and even if I did I would not have time enough to speak of all that it means to be fully and forever freed from sin. And though we still live in a world where we are affected by the pains and reality of sin each and every day, we shall never again be bound by it.
So strive to take time this season to remember not only that Christ will save all of His people from all of their sins. But also seek to remember what that means. And when remembering what has happened gets hard because being freed from sin doesn’t mean that you are immune to sin, look forward.
Christ has come to save us from the bondage of sin.
Christ is coming again to save us from the effects of sin.
“Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
*Here is a link to my favorite version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P9ucV-sNEE
**I do believe that Christ should be kept in Christmas. But I also believe that people should all know that the ‘X’ in X-mas stands for the Greek letter that was the start of the word Christ in the language in which the New Testament was written. - "Χριστός"