3 January 2008

Matthew 1:18-21

"You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (v.21)


The name 'Jesus' means "Jehovah is salvation", or in shorthand, 'Saviour'. But what does Jesus save us from? Is sin simply a list of perceived wrongdoings (or a lack of right doings) that might change from generation to generation? Perhaps it's an outmoded concept attributable to our nurture, genes or temperament and best dealt with by therapy?

Christians have often defined sin in terms of a breakdown in relationships - as anything which becomes a barrier between us and God. And if our child/parent relationship with God is out of sync then that has spin-offs for our relationships with others and indeed for our own wellbeing. So sin or sins may be different for different people, but are certainly more than a tick or cross column.

Global sins or the corporate sin of the Church are worth reflecting on too, lest our focus be too narrow.

But there's perhaps a more important question. What does Jesus save us for? Because the danger with reflecting on our sin and not moving on is that we can be all consumed by it and end up in a worse state than before. But Jesus, through his death on the cross, saves us for a reason.

Zechariah, in his picture of Jesus as a mighty saviour, reminds us that the "for" of the above question is that we might serve him without fear (Luke 1:74) which I guess means that he frees us to be the people he has made us to be and so find joy in life and in the service of others for his sake.

To Ponder

Do I need saving? From what? For what? Can it be done?

What are global sins? Or the sins of the Church? How do I contribute to them if at all?

Bible notes author

Revd Leo Osborn

The Reverend Lionel E. Osborn (known as Leo) was born in Birmingham in 1952.