Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua. What did Joshua do for Israel? God used Joshua to save Israel from her enemies in the promised land.
Let us think about that for a moment. In the days when the angel spoke to Joseph, Israel was under Roman rule. Joseph may have thought this child would one day, like Joshua, save Israel from her Roman oppressors. The angel did not say that. He said, “he will save his people from their sins,” not from Rome but from their sins.
Like first-century Israel we often mistake the hope of the world for geo-political solutions. We say we want someone to save our nation, someone who will stand up for what is right in society, a hero by our standards who will take care of whatever or whoever we think our enemy is. Jesus does not save in this way; his salvation works on a deeper level.
Let us say you have a plant with a disease of the roots, but you start spraying it with a spray designed to cure a disease of the leaves. Will your plant get better? Likely not, it might even die. While you are treating the surface problem, the disease is actually killing the plant at its roots.
Far too often today, people think of society like a machine. They say, “if only we can get the parts right – the right judicial system, right education curriculum, right people in power to do what we think are the right things needing to be done – then the machine will start working smoothly and churning out whatever products we think it should be producing.
These surface solutions can become like a band aid placed on a festering, infected wound. Unless we deal with the root problem, healing will never come.
Jesus came to do far more than grease and fashion parts for a machine. He came to work at the root level, the cause of all our angst, hate, divisiveness, and lack of peace. He came to save us from that part of ourselves that rebels against God’s good intentions of love, kindness, peace, patience, self-control, for which he made us. He came to save his people from their sins. Do we not need him to?