There are things in Scripture which rightly can be distinguished, but which we nevertheless must never completely separate. For example: Jesus is both God and man. If we look at Him only through one lens or the other, we do violence to who He is in toto. Nevertheless, getting a grasp of both concepts is also necessary for understanding the whole. And this very principle comes to bear in the verse we have before us here.
While they cannot be separated entirely, it is still wise to note that forgiveness of sins, and justification – while absolutely tied together – are not one and the very same thing. The difference lies in understanding the one as having more to do with our status in relationship to Christ’s Kingdom, and the other, to Him personally.
Scripture speaks often of the Christian’s duty to forgive when we’ve been sinned against. But it never speaks of us “justifying” the offender. Justification is legal, forensic. It has to do with being pronounced “righteous” in the courts of Heaven. It is only the justified who enter the Kingdom. But God does not merely justify us – though justification in some sense includes forgiveness. God, forgives us too. He personally, says to the one who appeals to Him for mercy on the basis of the blood of Christ’s shed blood – “I forgive you.” NOT – “you are forgiven” – but “I” forgive you.
In other words, what the sinner finds in Christ, is both reconciliation to the Kingdom of God, that we might be “just” (UN-guilty) citizens – but personal forgiveness from the Father – that we might be personally reconciled to Him!
Oh what a glorious salvation Jesus has brought to us at Calvary. Ours is not merely a forensic or legal matter settled in the wrath of God poured out upon our Substitute, but a deeply personal one. Ours is a salvation where the One we have offended and sinned against, is Himself perfectly at ease with us once more. The divide is gone. The barrier is removed. All the distance between the Believer and our God both spiritual and emotional is fully met in Christ.
This is why He came to earth.
This, is Christmas.