We are always looking for ways to save. We buy things on sale. We watch for discounts and compare prices. We use coupons. We know we need to save but the Bible is concerned that we know we need to be saved. More than two hundred centuries ago some shepherds in fields just outside of Bethlehem received an astonishing announcement from an amazing messenger (Lk. 2:8-20). Luke tells us that as they watched their flocks an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, “Today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born” (Lk. 2:10). This was such good news to the shepherds they immediately sought out an audience with this special child (Lk. 2:15-16). Because we’ve become quite self-sufficient these days, we’ve lost sight of the concept that humankind needs to be saved. We may catch a glimpse of this when we go through a personal crisis that seems insurmountable. But we forget that our plight is not limited to the physical realm. The Bible tells us that in the spiritual realm we are desperately in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:21-26).
Our need for a Savior is perhaps best illustrated in the grandest stories about salvation- the Exodus (Ex. 7-12). Bound to a lifetime of slavery by their Egyptian taskmasters, the Israelites groaned under the weight of their labor. They knew there was no way out of this situation. They knew they did not have the physical or financial means to free themselves from their circumstances. Enter Moses, an unlikely representative for the God who could save them, and after repeated resistance from Pharaoh “delivers” as promised. We may not have a physical “slave owner” in our lives, but we are bound to one (Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:6, 16-17. 20) and only a Savior can set us free from its grasp. Hence the angel announces to those fear stricken shepherds that the Savior who is born is not solely for the shepherds alone; He is for all people (Lk. 2:10).
Advent is often promoted as a time of waiting for the birth of Christ. It was a wait that began in Eden (Gen. 3:15) whose fulfillment was promised through the prophets (Mic. 5:2-4) and was announced as fulfilled to a field full of sheep and shepherds. The terms the angel uses to describe this child are significant. He is a “soter” meaning savior, deliverer, preserver and specifically one who saves another from danger or destruction and brings them to a state of prosperity and happiness. When spoken of Jesus as the Messiah it refers to Him as the Savior who delivers people from the power of sin, eternal death, the punishment and misery which is the consequence of that sin, and gives them eternal life and blessedness in His kingdom (Lk. 2:11; Acts 5:31;13:23; Phil. 3:20; 2 Pet. 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18). Jesus is also called “christos”, the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew term messiah, meaning an anointed one. The term in the Old Testament referred to everyone who was anointed with the holy oil- primarily the priesthood and kings- but it was also applied to others who acted as redeemers or deliverers. In the Gospels the word is applied chiefly to Jesus as He is anointed to be the Savior of the World (Mt. 1:17; 2:4; 16:16; Mk. 12:35; 13:21; Lk. 2:11, 26; Acts 2:36; 9:22; 18:28). The first Advent, and the titles given to Jesus when it took place, addresses our need to be saved.
Have you ever wondered why our little coin collectors came to be shaped like a pig? Apparently in the Middle Ages the type of clay used to make them was called pygg and the pots became known as pig pots. Even though other materials eventually replaced clay as the material of choice the name stuck. When we were children our piggy banks reminded us that we needed to save money. As adults Advent reminds us that we needed a Savior. The Good News is we have one! (Lk. 2:10)
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre