She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
Yesterday we read the beginning of what the angel told Joseph in a dream regarding Mary’s pregnancy. Today we read the rest of the angel’s words.
The angel tells Joseph to name the baby “Jesus” which means “Yahweh saves” in Hebrew. Yahweh is one of the names for God in the Old Testament. The Greek word translated “save” is σοζο (pronounced: sode’-zo) which means “to rescue from danger or destruction”.
While the Jews were awaiting a savior, they were mistakenly expecting a political/military savior who would liberate them from the oppressive Roman Empire. But God saw things differently.
God knew that the Jews (and all people) are in bondage to something even more evil and destructive than their government. Or slavery. Or cancer. We are in bondage to sin whose consequences are far more dire than the consequences of anything we face in this life.
The consequence of sin is spiritual death [Romans 6:23] which is eternal separation from God. We call this hell. Hell is, by definition, the complete absence of God. Since sin is not permitted in heaven, people who refused to have their sins forgiven by Jesus in this life will not end up there. As such, these people will maintain their sin nature for all eternity.
If anyone thinks life on earth is bad now, hell will be unimaginably worse as every unforgiven person who ever lived will be there. Sin will run rampant for time unending causing infinitely more emotional and physical pain than it does now.
The only reason good things happen on earth is because God intervenes – He is the only source of anything good [Romans 8:28, James 1:17]. But since He will not be present in hell, hell will be endless and increasing mutually-inflicted torment.
Critics will be quick to argue that a loving God would never send anyone to hell. They are right. God does not send anyone to hell. Instead He invites everyone to be in heaven with Him. People who end up in hell end up there of their own volition.
God has offered everyone a “stay out of hell free” card for simply casting your sins on Jesus and letting Him pay their penalty for you. This is the only way to escape hell.
Again critics will say that it is closed-minded to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. But I am simply repeating what Jesus Himself said [John 14:6]. The truth is we are lucky there is a way at all. God did not have to save us. He could have left every one of us to our own fate. But then none of us would be in heaven with Him. And He doesn’t want that [1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9].
If you were trapped in a burning building and a fireman appeared through the smoke and said to you “There’s a way out. Follow me.” would you say “Only one way out? How closed-mined of you! No, thanks. I’ll find my own way out”? Of course not. That would be physical suicide.
Saying “No thanks” to Jesus would be spiritual suicide.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.