“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Consider the sheer mind-numbing existence of God.
Everything else in our lives had a beginning and is created. But only God has always been. Always. Back we go in our minds, thousands of years, then thousands more. There never has been a time when he was not. It is more than our finite little minds can comprehend.
But God is not just eternal. He’s also everywhere — we call it omnipresent. And as mindboggling as the growing, but finite expanse of our universe is, God is infinitely bigger — if “bigger” is even the right word.
And then there’s his power. He is almighty. Not only is he the strongest being in the universe, but he is infinitely strong — and all the strength in the power in the universe is derivative of his, and pales in comparison to his.
We should stand in awe when we encounter God and catch just a glimpse of his grandeur that is past finding out. The utter reality of God in his eternal nature and size and power brings such a stark contrast to the reality of who we are in our temporality and finitude that at times the only appropriate response we can muster is stunned silence. There truly is no one like him (1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:8; Jeremiah 10:6).
The God Who Saves Us
But if the sheer reality of God weren’t enough, then there’s the grace of God. As stunning as it is to ponder God’s magnificence in relation to time and space and power, this is the most shocking reality of all: He is the God who saves us.
It’s one thing to be created by such a God. And for just a moment to awake from the slumber of our everyday rhythms and patterns and occupation with such trivialities as are inevitable to us as creatures, and catch just a glimpse of the backside of his glory. But it is another thing altogether to be noticed by this unimaginably great God, and to be chosen by this God, and loved by this God, and wonder of all wonders, to be the recipients of the self-giving sacrificial initiative of such a God in sending his own as one of us to save us.
It is no small thing to sing to Jesus, “You are the God who saves us.” As arrested as we are by God’s amazing God-ness — his ineffable grandeur as the one who is ultimate reality, more timeless and omnipresent and powerful than are minds can even fathom — this is the greatest truth, the most awe-inspiring news, the message that really is more than we could ever believe, unless he gave us the eyes to see it.
When the angel visited Joseph in a dream, he didn’t just explain to him, “that which is conceived in [Mary] is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20), but he also provided a name for the child. “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus means “God saves.”
This is who he is — the God who saves us — and this is the most amazing truth in all the universe.