“For” is such a tiny, almost insignificant word that it can be easily overlooked in the verse,
An angel of the Lord came to [Joseph] in a dream, saying “Joseph, son of David, have no fear of taking Mary as your wife; because that which is in her body is of the Holy Spirit. And you will give him the name Jesus; for he will give his people salvation from their sins.
But “for” has great significance here; linking a common boy’s name at the time – much like the name “Joshua” today – to a very unique and old story that had been unfolding for generations of Israelites. The promise of a coming Messiah, foretold through the gift of sight given by God to the prophets Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, suddenly here in the flesh.
Can you imagine how confusing it must have been for soon-to-be-father, Joseph? The Israelites believed then (and many still do today) that the coming Messiah was going to be a reigning king that they were going to put into power on the throne and then bask in the power and glory of this great king themselves. I imagine that it must have been quite a shock, once Joseph understood what was happening!
The angel told Joseph that his son was going to have the authority to forgive people for their sins. This was blasphemy in the minds of the Israelites; only God could do such as thing as forgive sin! Ultimately it was the Israelites’ pride that became their stumbling block to accepting the Messiah for who he is, not who they wanted him to be.
Not only was the Messiah NOT going to pump up the Israelites’ egos as their earthly king, his goal throughout his ministry was to DEFLATE egos! God hates arrogance and foolish pride, so much so that he flipped the script on the Israelites. He no longer wanted animal sacrifices performed each year to remind his people of their sins (the First Covenant). Instead he sent this unique child, born of a woman but sinless and perfect – like the lambs that had to be perfect in order to be a sacrifice – to take our place in receiving the justice for our actions (the Second Covenant). He made it so easy; all we have to do is humble ourselves with a repentant heart, ask for forgiveness and for help to overcome our sins, and then learn – over a lifetime – to trust him that he exists, that he cares for us, and is helping those who love him.
In doing some digging on how Jesus’ name relates to salvation, I found it confusing, fascinating and overwhelming at the same time. There is just so much information and discussion on the subject of his name. I’m going to try to simplify and share what I found in my next post.