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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, December 5, 2010

“Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

I could begin this sermon by telling you of the virgin birth of Christ. I could tell you how the Spirit of God implanted the Holy Child Jesus in the womb of Mary. That, no doubt, would hold your attention. But my purpose this morning is not to emphasize Christ’s virgin birth. The virgin birth is an important doctrine, indeed most important because everything else about Jesus depends on it. But it is not what I want to emphasize this morning. The point in the text I want to emphasize is the reason God sent His Son into this world – “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Let us consider first, his name, then the salvation he brings, and last who He saves.

I. First, His name.

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS.” It was a common enough name. “Jesus” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Joshua and Hosea, Iēsǒus in Greek and Yehoshuah in Hebrew (Strong #3091). Both the Hebrew and Greek forms of His name mean “Jehovah Saves,” Jehovah being the name of God in Hebrew.

Since the name was the same as Joshua, parents quite commonly gave their sons this name. It did not mean that any boy named Jesus could save. The name was a simple statement of the fact that “Jehovah saves.” But with Jesus the name referred directly to Him. That is why the angel emphasized the application of the name to Jesus Himself, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people...” (Matthew 1:21).

The Jews in that day were looking for Messiah Ben David (Messiah the Son of David) to deliver them from bondage to Rome. They overlooked the fact that there are two seemingly contradictory pictures of the Messiah in the Old Testament prophecies. Dr. Chuck Missler said,

      When one examines the numerous Old Testament predictions of the appearance of the Messiah of Israel, we find two [seemingly] contradictory presentations. Many passages portray a suffering servant; others clearly emphasize a ruling king. These [various] passages resulted in a view anticipating two Messiahs: Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant; and Messiah Ben David, the ruling King, respectively.
      When Jesus made His appearance, the overriding expectation of the Messiah Ben David – the reigning King who was to deliver Israel from the world’s evil rulers – was so prevalent that they did not recognize Him! The recognition of one Messiah in two distinct “comings” is now clearly acknowledged among conservative scholars (Chuck Missler, Ph.D., The Kingdom, Power, and Glory, The King’s Highway Ministries, 2007, p. 317).
      Even the most highly venerated orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Itzak Kaduri, left [a note when he died in 2006] declaring that the “two Messiahs are one” and his name is Yehoshuah…His note…has caused the Orthodox community in Israel considerable consternation (Missler, ibid., taken from Israel Today, April 6, 2007).

It seems to me that Rabbi Kaduri was a secret believer in Jesus, for he sealed this note for one year, so that under Orthodox Jewish law it would not be destroyed. He also left instructions that it should be made public when a year had passed after his death. That seems to indicate that he believed in Jesus, and waited till after death to reveal his faith. Since he was a highly venerated Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem, this must have caused a lot of people to think about Jesus.

Since the Jews were looking for a political Messiah, God wanted them to know that Jesus was the Suffering Servant, the Messiah who would save them, not from bondage to Rome, but from sin.

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

That is why the Apostle Peter said,

“There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

II. Second, the salvation He brings.

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for the Son of David, one who would liberate them from slavery to Rome, who would bring them peace and prosperity. We shouldn’t blame them too much. Most evangelical Christianity isn’t any better today. They want Jesus to make them prosperous, give them peace of mind, and be their “life-coach,” as Dr. Michael Horton pointed out in his book, Christless Christianity (Baker Books, 2008). Dr. Horton said that, even during Easter week, few evangelical churches talk about the suffering Jesus went through to save us from sin. Dr. Horton says that on Easter Sunday there is usually a sermon on how Jesus rose from the dead to help us overcome defeat, or (worse) to give us an example of how to rise above our problems! This is not why Jesus died and rose again! Nothing could be plainer in the Bible,

“Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3).

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).

The weight of our sin was placed upon Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. There, in the darkness of that Garden, Jesus became the bearer of our sins, the night before He was nailed to the Cross.

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:36-38).

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch” (Mark 14:32-34).

“And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:39-44).

Remember, Jesus had not yet been arrested. He was suffering horribly, even to the point of breakdown, until bloody sweat streamed from the very pores of His skin.

Why did Jesus suffer so greatly in Gethsemane? The prophet Isaiah said,

“It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin”
       (Isaiah 53:10).

Dr. Gill said,

Now he is bruised, and put to grief by his Father…[His sorrows] were very heavy, and indeed seem to be the heaviest of all…very heavy; with the weight of the sins of his people, and the sense of [God’s] wrath, with which he was so pressed and overwhelmed…the sorrows of death and hell surrounded him on every side…his heart was ready to break; he was brought even, as it were, to the dust of death (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 334; comment on Matthew 26:37).

Why did Jesus suffer alone there in the Garden? I believe that our sins were placed on Him that night. He bore our sins to the Cross the next morning.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24).

At last, deep in the night, the Temple guards came and arrested Him on a false charge. They dragged Him before the High Priest. They spat in His face. They ripped out chunks of His beard. They beat Him in the face. They chained Him to a flogging post and beat Him until His back was a bloody pulp. Joseph Hart said,

See, how patient Jesus stands, Insulted in this awful place!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands, And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed, Send streams of blood from every part;
His back with heavy scourges lashed, But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood, Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood, A sad display of injured love.

Behold that pale, that weakened face, That drooping head, those pain-filled eyes!
Behold in sorrow and disgrace Our suffering Saviour hangs, and dies!
   (“His Passion” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Christ suffered, bled and died a horrible death, so you might be saved from being punished for your sins. He died in your place, to pay the penalty for your sins!

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

III. Third, who He saves.

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

I believe, with Luther, that Christ died for all mankind. But not all of mankind will be saved. Calvin himself (though not all who came later) said that Christ’s death was “sufficient for all men, but efficient [effective] only for the elect.” I agree with that statement. “He shall save his people from their sins.” Those who remain unconverted will not be saved by Christ’s death on the Cross. Dr. Gill said that “his people” means “…all the elect of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were given to him by his Father…who are made willing in the day of his power upon them, to be saved by him in his own way. And these he saves from their sins, from all sins, original and actual; from secret and open sins; from sins of the heart, lip and life…from the guilt, punishment, and damning power of [sin], by his sufferings and death” (Dr. John Gill, ibid.; p. 8; comment on Matthew 1:21).

Who, then, will be saved from their sins by Jesus? Those “he hath chosen…in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Are you one of the elect? Are you one of his people, chosen by God before the world was created? You can only be one of “his people” if God brings you under conviction of sin, to the point where you are deeply concerned about your sin. Those who are lighthearted and careless do not experience real conversion. Only those who are disgusted with themselves, and burdened by their sin, will see their need for Jesus. They alone will come to Jesus. Only those who are drawn to Jesus are counted as His people.

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

In his beautiful Christmas song Dr. John R. Rice said that Jesus was “born to die for sinners,”

Jesus, Baby Jesus, Son of God and Son of man,
   Tempted, poor and suffering,
No one knows us as He can!
   Holy, righteous, blameless, fitting sacrifice complete.
By His blood atonement, God and sinners in Him meet.
   Jesus, Baby Jesus, there’s a cross along the way.
Born to die for sinners, born for crucifixion day!
   (“Jesus, Baby Jesus” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 1:18-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Baby Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

I.   First, His name, Acts 4:12.

II.  Second, the salvation He brings, I Corinthians 15:3;
I Peter 3:18; Matthew 26:36-38; Mark 14:32-34;
Luke 22:39-44; Isaiah 53:10; I Peter 2:24.

III. Third, who He saves, Ephesians 1:4.