21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
These words were announced by the angel of the Lord to Joseph, the espoused husband of Mary. Joseph was very troubled in his heart because “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (v. 18). “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (v. 19). He chose not to create a public scandal by exposing her condition. Instead, he decided to “divorce” her quietly.
Then an angel told Joseph in a dream that Mary’s condition was not caused by a man, but through the Holy Spirit. The angel said to him, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (v. 20; cf. v. 18).
The Child that Mary carried in her womb was a unique Child. The angel then informed Joseph that “she shall bring forth a son”, and instructed that Joseph should “call his name JESUS”. The angel also proclaimed the reason why the Child should be called “JESUS” – “for he shall save his people from their sins.” These words would have brought to Joseph’s mind the promises of God which the prophet Isaiah had declared about 700 years ago – “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; cf. Isaiah 7:14).
The child’s name “Jesus” expressed the fact that He will save His people from their sins. His people are all those who would genuinely believe on Him (cf. John 3:16). They are the elect of God; Jesus came to be their Saviour. 33 years later, it was this same Jesus “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
Saving His people “from their sins” was the grand purpose of Jesus’ birth. It is not to save men and leave them in their sins that He came and died, but to save them from their sins. Any notion that those whom Jesus saves will continue in their sins is a false teaching! Jesus’ grand design was to deliver His people from their sins. He leads them out of the bondage and curse of sin into the joy of salvation, and guides them in the path of righteousness.