THOU shalt call His Name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins .” Matt 1:21
He is not called Jesus because He is our Exemplar, though indeed He is perfection itself, and we long to tread in His footsteps; but He is called Jesus because He has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
He is Christ, too, or the Anointed, but then He is Christ Jesus; that is to say, it is as a Savior that He is anointed. He is nothing at all if He is not a Savior. He is anointed to this very end. His very Name is a sham if He does not save His people from their sins.
It is a gracious but very startling fact that our Lord’s connection with His people lies in the direction of their sins. This is amazing condescension. He is called Savior in connection with His people, but it is in reference to their sins, because it is from their sins that they need to be saved. If they had never sinned, they would never have required a Savior, and there would have been no Name of Jesus known upon earth.
That is a wonderful, text in Galatians 1:4, did you ever meditate upon it?. “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” It is true, as Martin Luther says, He never gave Himself for our righteousness, but He did give Himself for our sins. Sin is a horrible evil, a deadly poison, yet it is this which gives Jesus His title when He overcomes it. What a wonder this is! The first link between my soul and Christ is, not my goodness, but my badness; not my merit, but my misery; not my standing, but my falling; not my riches, but my need. He comes to visit His people, yet not to admire their beauties, but to remove their deformities; not to reward their virtues, but to forgive their sins.
O ye sinners, I mean you real sinners, not you who call yourselves by that name simply because you are told that is what you are, but you who really feel yourselves to be guilty before God, here is good news for you! O you self condemned sinners, who feel that, if you are ever to get salvation, Jesus must bring it to you, and be the beginning and the end of it, I pray you to rejoice in this dear, this precious, this blessed Name, for Jesus has come to save you, even you! Go to Him as sinners, call Him “Jesus,” and say to Him, “O Lord Jesus, be Jesus to me, save me, for I need Thy salvation!” Doubt not that He will fulfill His own Name, and exhibit His saving power in you. Only confess to Him your sin, and He will save you from it. Only believe in Him, and He will be your salvation.
What does Paul mean when he says “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”? He means, first, that Jesus carne to save them from the punishment of their sin . Their sin shall not be laid to their charge, so that they shall be condemned for it, if they do but trust in Him who was punished in the place of those who were really guilty. That is one thing that Christ Jesus came into the world to do for sinners.
He came, also, to save them from the pollution of: their sin , so that, though their mind has been debased, and their taste degraded, and their conscience deadened by sin, He came to take that evil away, and to give them a tender heart, and a hatred of sin, and a love for holiness, and a desire for purity. That is a great work for Him to accomplish, yet Jesus came to do even more than that.
He came, also, to take away our tendencies to sin , those tendencies which are born in us, and which grow up with us. He came by His Spirit to eradicate them, to pluck them up by the roots, and to put within us another principle, which shall fight with the old principle of sin, and overcome it, till Christ alone shall reign, and every thought shall be brought into captivity to Him.
Further, Jesus came to save His people from apostasy . He “came into the world to save sinners,” in the fullest possible sense, by keeping them faithful to the end, so that they shall not go back unto perdition. This is a very important part of the work of Divine grace. To start a man right, is but little; but to keep that man holding on even to the end, is a triumph of almighty grace, and this is what Christ has come to do.
Christ Jesus came into the world,” not to half save you, not to save you in this direction or that, and in this light or that, but to save you from your sin, to save you from an angry temper, to save you from pride, to save you from strong drink, to save you from covetousness, to save you from every evil thing, “and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” This is a glorious truth, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” He came to Bethlehem’s manger, and afterwards to Calvary’s cross, with this as His one business, that He might save sinners.
Is He not able to save? Is He not just the Savior that we need? God and yet man in one adorable Person, He is able to sympathize because He is man, and He is able to save because He is God. Blessed God man, Jesus Christ, Thou art able and willing to save me, and Thou art able and willing to save all other sinners who will believe in Thee!
Excerpt from Christ’s Incarnation, the Foundation of Christianity by C. H. Spurgeon (.pdf)