Student to math teacher: That isn’t right!
Teacher: What’s not right?
Student: You said that X equals 4.
Teacher: Yes, I did. So?
Student: Well, yesterday you said that X equals 3.

Somethings just don’t make sense.

Here’s one that may not make sense to you.

An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that the baby which Mary  is expecting is to be called “Jesus” because He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21). What does the name, “Jesus”, have to do with saving people from their sins?

To make sense of this, it is helpful to look at the Old Testament.

Joshua was a military leader whom God appointed and empowered to deliver the Israelites from their numerous enemies as the People of God took possession of the land which the Lord had promised them. And that’s exactly what Joshua did. His name proved to be prophetic, because “Joshua” means “The Lord saves” or “The Lord is salvation.”

So, you lament, “It still makes as much sense as X equals 3 one day and X equals 4 the next.”

Maybe this will help.

The name, “Jesus”, is a later form of “Joshua.” As Joshua rescued the Israelites from death at the hands of their foes, the new Joshua, i.e. Jesus, came to liberate His people from their own sin. And we all know what sin leads to. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Since Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, once again the name “Joshua/Jesus” was an accurate predictor of what eventually occurred. God did save His people from their sins. Or, more precisely, God saved us from our sins.

This is how it was done. Jesus was the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist exclaimed, who would take away the sins of the world. As a Passover Lamb was annually sacrificed for the sins of the people, Christ was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins, once for all. In addition to being sacrificial, Christ’s death was also substitutionary in that He died in our place. Christ died so that our deaths are only temporary. For forgiven sinners, death is a passage to Paradise.

I cherish this phrase from a familiar Christmas hymn “…born that man no more may die…”

So, now we understand the connection between the name “Jesus” and our salvation, but how can X equal 3 on Tuesday and X equal 4 on Wednesday?

Don’t ask me. There’s a reason the Church Council doesn’t let me count the offering. Now that makes sense.

May the Season of Advent be a blessing to you.


Ken Tubbesing