In the second article of The Apostles' Creed as Christians we confess our faith in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord. These simple words make four very important statements about the person and work of Jesus.
First, he is our savior. The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew Joshua which means Yahweh saves. As the angel said to Joseph concerning Mary's child, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
The Greek verb for save means "to save or preserve someone from eternal death, from judgment, and from all that might lead to such death, e.g. sin." Stuart Briscoe says that salvation means to free up, give room, space, opportunity for growth.
The angel told Joseph that Jesus would save his people from their sins. Sin means to miss the mark. God has created us to live a fulfilling life in relationship to him and to other human beings. However, because we are sinners that means we fail to live up to our potential. The end result of sin is death--spiritual separation from God.
Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the result of a conversation on an airplane flight. While riding on a commercial jet Blanchard sat next to a Christian businessman who began to talk with him about Jesus. At one point in the conversation Blanchard said that he didn't think he was that bad of a sinner so he didn't need a saviour.
Then the businessman asked Blanchard this question: "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect holiness and righteousness, and 1 being total sinfulness, who would you say is a perfect 10?" Blanchard said, "Well, I suppose Jesus would be a perfect 10."
Next the businessman asked, "So on that same scale, where would you put Mother Teresa?"
Blanchard said, "Well, Mother Teresa is an amazingly giving person. I guess I would say she is at least an 8."
Then the businessman asked, "And so where would you put yourself on that scale?"
Blanchard responded, "Well I'm certainly no Jesus or Mother Teresa. I guess I would say I'm about a 6."
Finally, the businessman asked, "So what do you think is going to bridge the gap between where you are and where Jesus is?"
That question stayed with Blanchard and got him thinking about his need for a savior. Eventually he accepted Jesus as his savior.
We may think we are living a pretty good life when measured by our own standards. However, when we measure our lives against God's standard, we see how far we fall short. The prophet Isaiah said, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6)
Author John Leax once wrote, "A curious thing happens to humans who tangle with skunks. Their nose hairs absorb the door, so they sneak around trying to keep their distance from their friends because they think they stink. And indeed, to themselves, they do. An analogy comes to mind. The same thing occurs when we sin. Long after the noticeable consequences have passed from our lives, long after those around us have ceased to be offended by our reek, we live in the stench of our actions, for they have become a part of us. And like skunk, it takes more than tomato juice to restore us to an acceptable state."
All of us, if we are honest with ourselves, know that we are sinners. Deep in our hearts we know that something is wrong; something has estranged us from God and others. We can't seem to get the offensive door of sin out of our nostrils and it is going to take more than tomato juice to get rid of the skunk smell.
Jesus came, not only to remove the smell, but to remove the very source of the smell and replace it with something sweet. He came to remove the skunk in all of us, and replace that skunkiness with his own sweet righteousness, his wholeness, his integrity.