1 Timothy 1:15-17 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersâ€”of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
A lot of things will be said this Christmas; lots of conversation exchanged with family and friends no doubt. Some will be good and others not so. Which is all the more reason to have a trustworthy saying at our disposal, and Paul has one for the occasion.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. This is the most straight forward and yet the most glorious reason for Jesus’ birth. Jesus came into this world of sin to save his enemies from destruction. Is there a more wonderful Christmas text?
Paul goes further though. Yes, Christ came to save sinners, but what about me? We’re all sinners right? And Jesus didn’t come to save everyone. So how do I know that he came for me? It’s as if Paul has asked himself these self same questions. The thing is, until we realise that our personal need is so great that we can’t possibly do without Jesus, we won’t seek him out to be our saviour.
Paul says he is the worst of sinners precisely because he knows that his need is critical. He feels his sin so acutely, it is as if all the other people in the world couldn’t possibly be sinful enough to need Jesus like he needs Him. That’s the kind of need we all have to feel if we are to run into the arms of the saviour. All other types of neediness end up with us walking to Jesus, sometimes so slowly we never get there. We’ve got to need him so badly, we can’t help but run to the saviour of sinners.
Now to those who run to Jesus in belief, Jesus has the power to bestow eternal life, so Paul tells us. Jesus’ work on the cross bought the immense patience of God; that by that patience, men and women might come to that realisation that their need of Jesus is so much greater than they ever realised.
Surely this is a saying that deserves full acceptance this Christmas – Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst!