How clear was God’s plan and intent when he sent the Son of God to earth? Did Jesus come to offer a general possibility of salvation, or did he come to save a particular people for himself?
Those topics popped up in my mind when reading through Matthew 1 at the beginning of my Bible-in-a-year plan. It’s funny how, even in reading the most familiar passages, sometimes a single word will leap off the page. This time, it was the word “his.”
Matthew 1:21 – She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
Whom will Jesus save? From what will he save them? Notice that the Scripture is plain. Jesus came to save “his people.” He did not come simply to save a potential people. He did not come to save some people maybe. He came to save his people, people he was already claiming. He came to save them from their sins, not merely to provide a covering for sin in general.
O, I know that lots of people have had big theological arguments on this topic, and it’s far from my desire that we have such a fight about it here. However, I do think, for those who see the significance of “his” here, we can rejoice in the glorious plan of God. Jesus came with a specific purpose. He came knowing what he would do. He came intending to save his people, not just people. He had his children in mind. He lived, died, and rose from the grave to rescue, not a faceless mob of those who might come, but individuals like you and like me.
I believe that there is glory to be seen in the fact that the Savior came to rescue his people and not just folks in general. I think it is beautiful to know that Jesus took on flesh with a particular purpose that could not be thwarted. He did not fail. He did rescue his people from their sins. And he knew exactly what he was doing.
I also would argue that this passage should put fire in our evangelism. There are people out there who will come to Jesus. There are people whose sins are covered by the Savior. We must, absolutely must, present the gospel to people with honesty and clarity. We must call all people to turn from their sins and trust in Jesus for salvation. And, all who turn will find that they were already included in the “his people” for whom the Savior came to die.