'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'

'Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you ... '

' ... my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people ... '

Quoted above are three separate statements identifying the Christmas child as one who saves.

The angel Gabriel instructed Joseph to call the promised child 'Jesus' because he would save people from their sins. This name translates the Hebrew 'Joshua', which means 'the LORD saves'.

The angel, announcing the birth of the child to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, included in his message the statement that a Saviour had just been born.

The old man, Simeon, who had waited for years for God's saving intervention, recognized that in seeing this child he was seeing God's salvation.

Gabriel's words to Joseph indicate that this salvation is specifically salvation from our sins. This Christmas child was not born to be a political or national Saviour: he was born to be a spiritual Saviour - born to rescue us from the curse and the condemnation of our sins.

The true meaning of Christmas is thus intimately connected with the cross. This Christmas child was born to die - not in the way that death comes to all, but in a unique, unheard of and unrepeatable way. He was born, he came, 'to give his life a ransom for many.' He is 'the lamb slain from the foundation of the earth'; he is 'the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of world.'

Let us, like Mary, treasure up all these things and ponder them in our hearts. Let us also, like the shepherds, go on our way glorifying and praising God for all the things we have seen and heard about this 'Christmas' child.

[Scriptures: Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 2:11; 3:30,31; Galatians 3:10-14; Romans 8:1; Mark 10:45; Revelation 13:8; John 1:29; Luke 2:19,20.]

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2002