A New Discovery…..Sort Of

(Matthew 1:20-21) (20) 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. (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” [ESV]

My Sunday School class is in the book of Matthew this quarter.  If you use the Explore the Bible curriculum then so are you.  The above verses were part of our first lesson of the quarter.  The context of these verses is this:  Joseph and Mary are betrothed (similar to being engaged) but they are not yet allowed to live together.  During the betrothal period, Mary is found to be pregnant and Joseph knows for sure that he is not the father.  The only possibility remaining is that Mary had committed adultery.  As Joseph was preparing to divorce her (they were considered legally married under Jewish law during the betrothal period) an angel speaks to him in a dream and tells him that Mary has not committed adultery but is part of God’s plan to bring the Messiah into the world.  The angel told him what to name the child and for what purpose the child was being born.

While I was preparing to teach the lesson, the last phrase of verse 21 practically jumped off the page.  Now, I had read this before but had just assumed His people meant those who chose to accept Him.  I never gave it a second thought but it floored me this time.  The implications are staggering.  Do you realize what they are?

We all know that Jesus came into the world to seek and to save (Luke 19:10) but I had assumed that meant to offer salvation to everyone (because that was what I had always been taught).  Verse 21 above actually proves that Jesus’ purpose in coming was limited in scope before He was even born.  He was coming to save His people and only His people.  The text does not even suggest that He was only making salvation possible.

The second part of the phrase says that He will save them from their sins.  This is another way of saying what He said in the first part of the phrase (save His people).  Not only was there a particular group or set of people that Jesus was going to save but there was a particular set of sins that He was going to save them from.  Wow!!  Do you see the limited scope now.  Had you noticed this before?

Until I started to study theology, I never would have noticed this phrase.  Now, sometimes it seems as if I am reading the Bible for the first time.  It makes me wonder about how my Bible study time could have been more productive if I had known then what I know now.  But then, I know that I was not spiritually mature enough then.

What do you think?  Do you get the same meaning from these verses or do you have a different interpretation?


One Response to A New Discovery…..Sort Of

  1. hughstan says:

    The moving finger wrote, and having writ moved on . . . leaving the interpretation to the hearts and minds of those who are in the will of God.

    For Paul and others, that interpretation begins with the words of God concerning Abraham, before he was circumcised, and therefore before that symbol of the forthcoming Jewish nation was created, that his faith was counted to him as righteousness, thus making the people for whom Jesus came as to the Jews first ,and then all those uncircumcised children of Abraham whose faith is counted to them as righteousness.


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