Christmas Day, 2015.
Mt.1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).
Christmas is special and today is Christmas Day! It’s the day when we celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world, the baby born to be a Saviour, the man born to be a King.
This birth, of all births, is important. God had spoken about this many centuries before and now it had come about. The baby born this day was the means whereby God would fulfil his many promises of salvation.
We read earlier a prophetic passage from the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel lived and ministered some 550 years before Jesus’ birth. He carried out his ministry as a servant of God at a time when the people were in a sorry state. The leaders who should have been helping them were doing nothing of the sort. Ezekiel, acting as God’s mouthpiece, rebuked those leaders for their failures:
The condition of the people was dreadful:
They were treated like victims v.8 and that meant they were treated cruelly
They were poorly and weak but no-
They were sick but no-
They were broken but no-
They were lost, wandering and in danger but none went to find them and return them to safety
The LORD was aware of the situation and promised that he himself would come and be the leader and provider that was needed. He would come himself and be the good shepherd, just the kind of shepherd that was called for:
At the same time that the LORD was speaking of coming himself to deal with the problems troubling his people, he also declared that he would accomplish all of this through a descendant of King David. How can this be? How can we understand God at one and the same time coming himself and sending another to secure the salvation and well-
We are facing the great doctrine of the Trinity. There are hints of this doctrine to be found in the OT: Isaiah’s prophecies for example:
Is.7:14 "the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
Is.9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
But it took the coming of Jesus Christ into the world for a clearer revelation of this great truth to be given. And it begins to be made clear in the birth narratives.
In the months immediately preceding the birth of Jesus the special and unique identity of the boy to be born at Bethlehem is revealed to both Mary his mother and to Joseph his legal guardian:
Gabriel gave Mary this message:
The message that Joseph heard was perhaps even more direct. It included that first quotation from Isaiah but add drove home its significance by adding an explanation of its meaning:
Let’s think just for a few moments about that explanation of the name Immanuel – God with us. Let us for just a moment emphasise each of those three words in turn.
GOD. This is the most truth that lies at the heart of the Christmas story. It is not the Virgin Mary, it is not the angels, the stable, the shepherds or the wise men. It is the Incarnation the Holy Son of God, the Blest Second Person of the Divine Trinity, becomes man in order to save unholy men and women.
This is miraculous and we are unashamed to declare it to be so!
How wonderful that our God has been so willing to stoop so low in order to deal with the problem of our sin and our being separated from him because of it.
WITH. God draws near to be with us. He doesn’t merely send messengers preferring to keep himself hidden away at a safe distance, no he comes himself in the person of his Son.
God is with us -
He comes that:
he might save us,
that he might shine his light into our world and into our lives,
that he might show us what God is like by doing those things which only God can do:
he gives eyesight to the blind
he gives agility to the crippled and maimed
he gives hearing to the deaf
he gives cleansing to the lepers
he gives life to the dead
he gives forgiveness of sins to the guilty and
he gives new transformed lives to all who would and will receive him.
US. Not with great and worthy people who might somehow be able to claim some sort of right to his presence but to people like us! Sinful, self-
Mk.2:17 "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."