Jesus Saves, Savior
Welcome to the third week of our message series we are calling Jesus Saves. We are taking each letter of Jesus’ name and applying it to a message for five weeks.
The first week we looked at Jesus as Son of God, and having a personal relationship with Jesus the Son of God. We gave you a great prayer to pray to help you with that. Last week we discussed Jesus as our Eucharist and asked you to read your bible, John Chapter 6, and reflect on God’s presence in you when you receive Holy Communion. You can find both of those messages on our website, saintmary.life as a blog or podcast. You can also find our podcast by searching your favorite podcast app for Sunday Homily.
Today we are looking at the first “S” in Jesus’ name and equating that “S” with the word Savior.
When we say Jesus is our Savior, we are saying Jesus wants to remake us in his likeness. What? What can that possibly mean that Jesus wants to remake us into his likeness and that is why he is our savior?
Jesus becomes like us, so we can become like him. We read in the bible that we are created in God’s image. Throughout our life we should be growing, maturing, from God’s image into God’s likeness, and the Son of God, Jesus, makes that possible because he remakes us, recreates us, and leads the way, showing us how to mature through life from God’s image to his likeness. Let’s unpack this concept just a bit by taking a look at the idea of salvation and the idea of a savior.
What Is Salvation? According to the Catholic understanding of salvation, rooted in Scripture, we aren’t just saved FROM sin. We’re saved FOR love, for love now, and for a loving eternal life with God. Why did God create us in the first place? He made us in certain ways like himself, able to think and choose, so we could be sons and daughters who live in friendship with him. God created us for himself, for nothing less than to know, love, serve and enjoy him — now and forever.
Through sin, however, we rebel against God and reject his friendship. That is the definition of sin. Sin is saying no to God, thereby rejecting his friendship. As a result of our sinning, God’s likeness in us has been marred, and we’ve separated ourselves from him. Since God is the source of all that’s good, such separation can lead only to misery in both this life and the next. When we talk about hell, that’s a great definition of hell, eternal separation from God. By the way, eternal separation from God is a choice we make not one God imposes on us.
So. . . we sin which means saying no to God and, thereby, separating ourselves from him. What happens next? What happens next is beautiful. We know the bible verse John 3:16. Because God loved us so much, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from such a terrible fate, to save us from being separated from God. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus offer us, through the forgiveness of our sins, escape from eternal separation from God.
But that’s not all. He also reconciles us to God now, opening the door to a full restoration of our friendship with God. In this way, Jesus begins the process of a complete renewal of God’s likeness in us, a healing of the brokenness that comes from sin. So salvation isn’t just a way to avoid hell, nor is it just a past event.
On the contrary: Salvation in its fullness is God’s new creation. To save us, Jesus remakes us in God’s likeness — a lifelong process requiring our cooperation — so that we can once again think and love as God thinks and loves. This process finds its completion only in heaven, where eternal life is enjoyed in perfect harmony with God. Those who are joined there with God forever, in the deepest possible communion of love, will achieve their greatest destiny. They will fulfill their deepest longing. They will become what they were made to be.
Hence, Jesus is our Savior because he renews our friendship with God, ramaking us so that we can grow into his likeness. Lest you doubt me, when you were baptized, the one baptizing you said, “you have become a new creation in Christ!” Right there, you are newly created, newly formed, renewed, by Jesus. Right there, you become a son and daughter of God, renewed to grow from God’s image to his likeness.
You know sometimes people think religion is just a whole bunch of rules to follow in order to appease God so that he does not crush us, make our lives miserable, and send us to hell. If that is what people think of religion, one of two things will happen:
1. They live only in fear of God, treat their lives and faith like a checklist, following all the rules, always failing in the process because we are not perfect. Their lives are a checklist, checking off the items on the list, and then judging anyone who cannot do the same, or
2. They turn away from religion, and God’s beautiful gift of faith, because they realize they are not able to follow the rules perfectly because we are not perfect.
The words, Jesus our Savior, speak to this problem. Jesus our Savior is the Son of God who displays all of the same character traits as God himself. God is love. That is what the bible says. God is love. Jesus came out of God’s love for us, to forgive and reconcile us, to show us how much God loves us. He came because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” He came “not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Every person needs Jesus whether they will admit it or not. We are all prone to mistakes, to addictions, to choosing the wrong path, to saying no to God, to sin. We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s standard. We are all less than perfect, yes?
We are less than perfect, and we are sinners, However, and this is a big However, Jesus tells us in the Gospel today “do not be afraid.”
Many people think the most common phrase in the bible has something to do with “don’t” or “thou shalt not.” Actually the most repeated advice throughout the Old and the New Testaments is, “Do not be afraid!” All together some form of “do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times throughout the bible. Why not be afraid? Because we have a Savior. And we have faith in him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior. The Lord is with you like a mighty champion. Jesus tells us do not fear. Have faith. When Jesus is telling us to not be afraid and to have faith, he is saying in capital letters, TRUST ME.
So I ask you here today. Do you believe? Do you believe you need a savior? If you think you don’t, I ask you to search your heart for humility. Are you perfect? My guess is probably not because none of us are. Jesus is offering you an opportunity to grow more and more into the likeness of God which means he is offering you incomparable love, the fullness of life on earth and heaven, and incomparable joy. Do you desire that? Do you believe God loves you so much that he sent Jesus to save us FOR love?
Yes, we can say Jesus saves us FROM misery and hell. But what speaks much more powerfully to me is the fact that Jesus saves us FOR love, FOR joy, and FOR life. Do you believe that?
I don’t want to be afraid. Lord I do believe; help my unbelief. I want to have faith. I want to trust you, Jesus my Savior. Jesus, I trust in you. Lord Jesus Christ, Savior, Son of the Living God, I trust in you.