“And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins. Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying; BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL, which translated means, God with us.” Matthew 1:21-23
We don’t think of that verse as offensive, but more than likely it would have offended the religious leaders of the day. They were being oppressed by Rome. Their country was overrun by foreigners. They were being abused and mistreated at every turn. They wanted a Savior who could save them from the trouble around them. Shockingly Matthew points to the real problem. It wasn’t their circumstances it was their own hearts. “…He will save His people from their sins.” How dare he talk to persecuted people like that. How dare he not enter into their pain and ask them how they feel. How dare he accuse them of being sinners.
And so it is. The gospel is offensive. We think our life would be better if we just had different circumstances. If I just had a different wife, husband or different children. Maybe a different church or friends or job. The list is endless. Maybe if my past hurts weren’t so great. Trouble is everywhere. You can find atrocities sprinkled throughout history. Your circumstances, however horrifying, are nothing new. The sooner we see the problem is within us instead of without us the sooner we are ready to hear the wonderful story of the gospel. God became man. (Amazing) God is with us. (Incredible) His purpose? to save us from our sins. (Freedom at last)
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15
(For cultural information see – Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey p. 48-51)