Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (v. 15)
The letters to Timothy and Titus are called “The Pastoral Epistles” because Paul wrote to these young men in their roles as pastors in Ephesus and the island of Crete. Timothy and Titus represented the second generation of preachers, and as Paul prepared to hand the gospel baton over to them, he offered words of encouragement.
By the time Paul wrote these final letters, a number of “trustworthy sayings” had begun to circulate in the early church. Since no one had a copy of the Bible or any written materials, people had to memorize things that summed up the gospel in relatively few words. In all three of the Pastoral Epistles, Paul singles out some of those popular sayings and gives them his apostolic stamp of approval. In this early part of 1 Timothy, Paul quotes one such well-known saying: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
On this Christmas Eve, let’s savor those words as the essence of the gospel. We don’t always think of how sinful we are at Christmastime. We like to keep things cheery and bright. But sin is why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Jesus was born to save us from all that. That is what Christmas is all about.
Some of us know “The Jesus Prayer” and pray it often. It is simple: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” On this Christmas Eve, we know such mercy is available. Because “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” —Scott Hoezee
As you pray, thank God for his mighty mercy unto salvation.
About the Author
Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.